The Three Faces of the Shot Glass

A staple in the dispensing of alcoholic beverages for hundreds of years, the shot glass has in the past couple of decades taken on a new persona and a new importance, as its popularity continues to soar.

Today made from a variety of materials, from ceramics to plastics to metals, to actual glass, and containing various amounts of liquid - demonstrating the lack of consistency to the measure known as a "shot" - the closest thing to a commonality among shot glasses is the
extra strong and extra thick base, to prevent shattering as the drinker downs his shot and slams the glass to the hard surface of the bar.

The typical shot glass holds one-and-one-half ounces, but there are variations in both directions, with the popular "pony" or "short" single-ounce shot at one extreme, and the "double" two-ounce shot at the other. Larger glasses still called "shot" glasses, but holding three or four ounces, or even more, are also not uncommon.

While most authoritative essays on the shot glass will say they have been around one or two hundred years, the fact is they have been in use, in one form or another, for several centuries. In Mexico, tequila was first served in a hollowed-out bull's horn 'shot glass" in
the 17th century, and in Scandinavia, horn and metal shot glasses date back more than a thousand years.

So, what are the three faces of the shot glass?

The first, and most obvious, is as a drinking glass, for containing and consuming that single shot of straight liquor, most commonly whiskey, tequila or vodka - liquors that are generally downed in a single, quick gulp, not sipped, and not first requiring breathing or
needing a vessel that allows the aroma to first tantalize the drinkers senses, such as Scotch or Cognac.

The second, is as a measure for the preparation of mixed drinks, in place of the more utilitarian "jigger", a tool used only to measure out liquor and other liquids, but never used as a drinking vessel.

The third face of the shot glass is one that has dramatically appeared in recent years, as a canvas upon which hotels, restaurants, national parks, comedy shows, cartoon characters, singers, actors, fictional characters, politicians, and virtually every object know to mankind has been depicted upon. Go to Yosemite, buy a Yosemite shot glass, go to Chicago, buy a
Chicago shot glass, watch the Simpsons, buy a Homer shot glass; what ever your favorite, there is not one, but a plethora of shot glass choices available. They have become not just a mode of advertisement, but a booming collectible

I have a collection of shot glasses collected through travels around the USA, and given to me by friends and relatives. I have Space-Needle glasses from Seattle, Alligator glasses from Florida, Banana Slug glasses from UC Santa Cruz, a shot glass from Tombstone, AZ that has a sewn-leather cubby it nests in, a shot glass from Yosemite that has the front of a bear attached to one side and the rear of the bear attached to the other, and several with pewter emblems attached. Some are tall, some are short, some are round, some are square.
You name it, and I've got it. A few of them are shown here, to the right.

So, when you are visiting San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, or Fenway Park, or the White House, and when you venture into that gift shop, take a second look at the shot glass display, and pick out an attractive and useful addition to your collection. But why wait until then? Pick out an interesting one now, right here.

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