What Constitutes a "Shot Glass" 

Normal:  The most common form of pre-pro glass stands around 2-1/4" tall, is just under 2" across the rim, and is around 1-1/2" in diameter at the base.  A few are noticeably larger (around 2-1/2" x 2-1/4" x 1-3/4") and a few “baby” shots are noticeably smaller (1-3/4" x  1-1/2" x 1-1/8") but the proportions are similar to the prevalent 2-1/4” x 2” x 1-1/2” glasses.  As in all pre-pro glasses, the glass is extremely thin compared with modern glasses.

A A standard, gold-rimmed shot glass

Paneled:  These glasses also follow the basic 2-1/4” x 2” x 1-1/2” design but the glass is slightly thicker and somewhere between 8 to 20 panels have been molded into the interior surface.  This makes them slightly more interesting than the usual form.  Paneled glasses are easy to find: many of the Sunny Brooks come in a paneled version.

A shot glass with 12 inside panels and a beaded glass label

Fluted:  Fluted glasses are another variation on the basic design.  In these examples, between 8 and 12 flutes have been molded or more typically ground into the exterior of the glass at its base.  The common 'Yellowstone' shot glass exemplifies one of these.  Some of the finest quality glasses come with a fluted design and they emit a crystal-clear ring when placed on a hard surface.
'Yellowstone' whiskey glasses usually have 12+ flutes around the base 

Molded:  Yet another variation on the  2-1/4” x 2” x 1-1/2” form, these glasses have patterns molded into the base.  They often come with an embossed label: the 'Harvest King' glasses are a good example. 

A molded shot glass advertising 'Harvest King'
Barrels: These are very distinctive glasses.  Though their height: mouth: base dimensions are similar to the glasses listed above, they have a wide girth that makes them barrel-shaped.  They also tend to be made of heavier glass.  For unknown reasons, they tend to be considered less attractive than other glasses.  
A barrel shot glass with a beaded label.
Cylinders:  The classic Hayner Distilling Co. shot glasses typify the cylinder.  As the description suggests, the glass is near cylindrical with proportions of 2-1/2 x 1-7/8" x 1-3/4".  They typically stand a little taller than the rest in a display.  
'Lock Box 290', a cylinder from the Hayner Distilling Co.

Flared:  The next two classes of glass cause all the problems in the display case because they require that the shelves be re-spaced to accommodate their elevated height.  They typically stand 3" tall and have a narrowed body that flares to a 2” mouth an inch or so  shy of the rim.  Flared shots come in the same thin glass used on more usual glasses and some have panels molded into the interior.  



A typical flared glass, this one from NYC
Tonics: These glasses have aptly been described as "megaphone shaped". They have a 1/8" solid glass base and then the vessel rises from a narrow 7/8" waist toward a 1-1/2" mouth.  They typically stand 3-1/4" to 3-1/2" tall.  They're called 'tonics' because they are pygmy versions of the larger tonic glasses.
A tonic glass from a liquor dealer in VT.

Bar glasses:  All the previous categories of shot glass are relatively fragile and not meant to withstand the rigors of saloon use.  They were simply advertising throwaways.  Some branded pre-pro shot glasses are of much sturdier construction, however, and it's possible that they were indeed intended for bar use.  They have much thicker walls than the run-of-the mill pre-pro and often come with thick cheater bases that were intended to fool the patron into thinking that they were paying for more whiskey than they actually received.


A heavy cheater glass from The West Penn Distilling Co. of PA

last updated: October 16, 2009                  

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