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How Many Shots Of Vodka To Get Drunk?

Charl Joost
Last Updated: February 24th, 2023

How Many Shots of Vodka to Get Drunk?  Seeing as how Vodka originated in Poland some 600 years ago this vexing question has surely been around for quite a while.

In fact, the first mention of Vodka can reliably be traced to Poland, around 1405. But some scholars believe that Vodka originated as early as the 8th Century AD. Evidence to this effect however is minimal, but let us not let facts spoil a good story.

Vodka is now manufactured worldwide. It is generally bottled at a strength somewhere between 35% and 45 % Alcohol by Volume (ABV). But as usual, and unsurprisingly, it is a Polish company that breaks the mold.  Yup, there is always one shining star that climbs above the herd.

Sticking to their tradition as leaders in the Vodka production business, Polmos Białystok a Polish company produces the world’s strongest commercially available, drinkable spirit.

Ok, perhaps drinkable should really be in inverted commas! This little bit of Polish sunshine is known as Spirytus Premium Vodka. It is bottled at an awe-inspiring mind-numbing 96% ABV (192 proof). We will come back to this one shortly.

vodka shot glasses

A very important question in calculating how many shots of Vodka you may need to consume to get drunk is how much there is in a “shot”.

In the USA, in alcohol terms, a shot is equivalent to 1.5 fluid ounces of Liquor (about 50 milliliters). Worldwide, the definition of a shot differs.

For instance, In Japan, a shot is much larger, and you would be presented with a 2 fluid ounce serving. Whereas Germany will present you with a somewhat miserly 67 fluid ounces per serving.

How quickly, and how much of an effect Vodka, or any other alcohol for that matter, will have on you is dependent on several factors. Your alcohol tolerance level, age, weight, gender (women being generally smaller than men), health, etc, all relate in one way or another.

You could absorb much more or much less alcohol than the person next to you. There is no “given” in this.

The Long Arm of the Law

It would be remiss to not remind the reader that the laws of all countries take a very dim view, and rightly so, of drunk driving.

In the USA the limit to legally drive is a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08%. The limit is lower for newly qualified drivers and commercial drivers.

Drunk driving penalties vary considerably throughout the USA. In some states, first-time offenders get jail time, in others, they may only get a warning and a ticket.

However, a BAC level of .15 is considered an aggravated offense and will put you in serious trouble with the law if you are caught driving in that condition.

That one shot of 1.5 fluid ounces of Vodka (or any alcoholic spirit), at 80 proof, or 40% ABV, will put the average person over the legal limit for driving in the USA.

Drunk Under the Influence (DUI) charges are very serious and there is no way of knowing exactly how much alcohol it will take to get an individual over the limit, and there is no question about the fact that consuming alcohol impairs your driving ability.

So, if you drink, don’t drive, period.

BAC in Other Countries

The legal BAC limit in the United Kingdom is 0.08% except for Scotland which revised its limit downwards in 2014 to .05%.

For Commercial drivers in these countries e.g., airline pilots, train drivers, seamen, etc the limit is .02%, which is about as zero tolerance as you can get. Most of Europe has BAC limits of .05% for drivers but a number of countries have zero tolerance.

Legal limits change, but at the time of writing the above is what will get you into trouble. Check first!

Back to How Many Shots?

A hypothetical answer for a hypothetical question.

Whereas the drunk driving limit in the USA is .08% BAC, which the average person achieves with one shot, and an aggravated offense comes in at .15% then probably you are well on your way after two shots.

Maybe three if you are big and strong. But not if you are having a bash at the legendary Spirytus Vodka.

how many shots

Let us take a 1.5 fl oz (50ml) shot at a standard alcohol level of 43% ABV. This equates to 21.5 ml of pure alcohol. The Spirytus, at 96% ABV would be delivering 48 ml of alcohol, more than twice the standard.

No rocket science here. One of these beauties will put you on track to getting drunk. In fact, that one shot of Spirytus is the equivalent of more than half a bottle of wine.

Whatever the numbers, if you’re in party mode, a couple of shots of your favorite Vodka will get you rocking.

How to Drink Your Vodka Shots

Shaun Connery as the famous James Bond became legendary for his Vodka Martini “shaken not stirred” line in the Bond movies. It was Daniel Craig as Bond, who later switched it to a Gin-based Martini.

A good quality Vodka can be drunk neat, it is best ice-cold out of the freezer. As an aside though, it is recommended that the Spirytus not be drunk neat, better combine it with a mixer.

Below are some recipes for superb Vodka based cocktails:

The Legendary Bloody Mary

  • A good shot or two of Vodka onto Ice in a highball Glass
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Dash or two of smoked Tabasco
  • Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
  • Top up with Tomato juice and garnish with mint

Sea Breeze

  • A good shot or two of Vodka onto Ice in a highball Glass
  • 50 % grapefruit juice
  • 50 % cranberry juice
  • Garnished with a slice of lemon or lime

The Screw Driver (also legendary)

  • A good shot or two of Vodka onto Ice in a highball Glass
  • Top up with orange juice
  • Garnished with a slice of Orange

Vodka Aromatic Soda

  • 50 ml Vodka
  • 150ml Soda water
  • A couple of dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnished with an orange wedge and mint
  • Served on ice chunks in a highball glass

Vodka and Bitter Orange Soda

  • 50 ml Vodka
  • 150ml Soda water
  • A couple of dashes of Orange Bitters
  • Garnished with an orange wedge and mint
  • Served on ice in a highball glass


What does BAC mean

BAC refers to the Blood Alcohol Content in the body. 0.08% means that there are 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100ml of the blood being tested.

How long does it take for alcohol to work its way out of your system?

The Blood Alcohol Content in a human, regardless of age, size, or any other factor mentioned earlier, drops at about the rate of 0.015% per hour once you stop drinking. This is the rate at which the body metabolizes the alcohol in the system to get rid of it. Simple mathematics says that if you are at .08% it will take just over five hours to clear the alcohol out of your system.

It is no secret then why aircraft pilots are well aware of an old flight rule, vis “12 hours between the bottle and the throttle”.

How do you measure the strength of alcohol?

In the USA the term proof is used when specifying the amount of alcohol in a liquid. In the United Kingdom, the term used is Alcohol by Volume abbreviated as ABV. Proof is simply the ABV doubled. Thus 43% ABV is 86 Proof.

The instrument that measures the ABV is called an Alcohol Hydrometer and is calibrated from Zero (which is what it will read in pure water) to 100% (which would be pure Alcohol and next to impossible to produce).

This method of measuring ABV was invented by the French scientist, Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac way back in 1824.

Where did the term proof come from?

Somewhere around the 16th Century, in England, the British Government instituted additional taxes on spirits over a certain strength (Nothing has changed, alcohol is still an easy source of government revenue).

The word proof thus came about as confirming that it was a true and correct reflection of the strength of the alcohol in the drink. Surprisingly, the USA still refers to proof as their standard, but the UK employs the term ABV.

How Many Shots Of Vodka To Get Drunk? – Conclusion

Top shelf Vodkas are generally smooth, slightly spicy, and slightly sweet on the pallet. Combined into cocktails it is as tasty as their names are unique.

Let’s drink to the Cosmopolitan, the Espresso Martini, the Moscow Mule, the White Russian, and last but never least, the famous Harvey Wallbanger. Cheers!

Further Reading

About The Author

Charl Joost

Charl is a trainer, public speaker, and professional writer. While he has been coached to niche down, he has many passions. These include golf, gardening, technology, and a decent cup of coffee or two. Charl loves to learn about new products and tries everything he writes about.

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