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 History of Shot Glasses




March 7, 2011

The story behind shot glasses is relatively controversial. No one knows exactly who created the first shot glass and when and what their initial purpose was. One thing which is certain is that it dates to more than 200 years ago. A shot glass is a small glass that is designed to measure and hold liquor. It can either be drunk from the glass or it can be poured into a mixture of drinks. The name "shot" means "small amount" but that's not the only reason they are called "shot glasses". The idea is to down the drink in one single gulp and then the slam the glass on the table making a shot-like sound, hence the word "shot". The combination of these facts makes this word to be unanimously accepted and somewhat intuitive.

Although they weren't initially called "shot glasses" their history dates 200 years back in Italy where they were used for serving grappa. The drink was sipped from the glass and not downed in one single gulp.

Probably one of the most popular stories about their origin is referenced to Old West where a cartridge was exchanged for a small amount of alcohol. But this story does not hold true since even a small amount of whisky cost more than one cartridge.

The term "shot glass" first appears in a document in the year 1940 in The New York Times to establish a regulation for the size of liquor that was being served. Most of these shots have been found in the US and glasses made before 1940 are very rare.

Another reference to the term dates back to 1884 where three great German scientists founded a glasswork company and theorized the name of "Schott glass". In the US the name quickly changed to shot glass and the original name was lost.

It seems that the origins of "shot glasses" are not very accurate although it can be said that a few sources are responsible for the creation of this product and because its name and usage is so intuitive it will probably never lose its popularity.

For information on how to order custom shot glasses, custom pint glasses, custom brandy glasses, and more custom glassware, visit our website at


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