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The Shot

Shot glasses are small glasses designed to hold or measure spirits or liquor, which is either drunk straight from the glass (“a shot”) or poured into a cocktail.

The Oxford English Dictionary’s first citation for the term “shot glass” is in The New York Times during the 1940s, but several examples exist from the 1930s However, although it was used by some, the term apparently did not come into common usage until much later.

Many references from the 1800s describe giving a jigger of whiskey or rum to workers who were digging canals. Most shot glasses are found in the United States, but shot glasses from before the 1940s are very rare

Before Prohibition in the U.S. in the early to mid 1900s, thin-sided whiskey glasses were common. After Prohibition, these were replaced by shot glasses with a thick base and thick sides.

Because the word shot also means “dose” or “small amount”, it may simply be that these small glasses are called shot glasses because they hold small, powerful amounts.

However, there are a range of more-complex stories about the origin of the style of glass, and its name. Few of them stand up to much scrutiny – either they place the origin decades before the term appeared in print, or they describe an item that had nothing to do with drinking liquor:

Old West: A popular origin story is that the shot glass originated in the Western saloons of the American Old West. The story explains that the cowboys of the Old West would trade a cartridge (bullet plus powder and primer encased in brass) for a small amount of alcohol.

Bird shot or buckshot: Another origin story is that a shot glass was a glass used at the dinner table for diners to place any lead shot they found left during the meal.

Quill-pen holder: Another story ties the origin of the shot glass to the use of quill pens. According to this story, the term shot glass was coined over 100 years ago, describing a small, thick-walled glass placed on a writing desk, and filled with small lead shot. A feather writing quill would be placed in the glass when not in use, and the lead shot would hold the quill upright. An upright quill was more easily removed from the glass.

Firing glass: Certain fraternal organizations such as Freemasons have a custom of drinking toasts from specially shaped glasses known as cannons or firing glasses, which are slammed on the table making a sound like a gunshot – a firing glass then becomes a shot glass. The firing glass is much older than the shot glass, and has a very specific shape with relatively thin sides, and a very thick protruding base.

Friedrich Otto Schott: This theory argues that the word shot was originally spelled Schott, and named after Friedrich Otto Schott who co-founded the glass-works factory Jenaer Glaswerk Schott & Genossen in Jena,Germany, in 1884. This Jena glass has been theorized as the origin of the first Schott Glass and the source of the name, which was later, in the U.S., mutated to shot glass and the origin of the word forgotten.

Glass4ever have a broad range of shot glasses in different designs, colours and measures ranging from 30 ml to 60 ml.


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