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What is a Shot Glass?
One of the things that I have noticed after years of collecting is that the term shotglass means different things to different people. (I personally do not care if you call them a "Shotglass" or "Shot Glass") I have visited numerous antique stores that were selling all kinds of things labeled as shotglasses, and I have purchased plenty of glasses that were labeled as a "toothpick holder"and even a pair labeled "candle sticks"
There are at least two ways that I can think of to define a shotglass: by "form" -- what it looks like or by "function" -- what it is used for. Most people think of a shot glass as a small glass with thick sides and a thick base that holds about 1 ounce of liquid. This would be the "definition by form," but there are other "forms" including the "double" and the newer, tall thin "shooter" which are also shots, but they do not fit this "classic" definition.
I prefer a more "functional" definition: a shotglass is a glass used to "do a shot," that is, a glass used to drink an amount of a strong alcoholic beverage, preferably straight, in one quick motion. Anybody who has ordered shots at more than one place know that they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. This is what I collect: glasses of all shapes and sizes that could be used to do a shot, as long as I like what it looks like. I will also purchase larger glasses if they claim to be a shot glass. Most of the larger ones have designs that equate various levels of liquid with different "stages" or types of people. An example of this is the 4 ounce glass from a university that has the 1 oz. line marked as "freshman", the 2 oz. line marked as "sophomore", the 3 oz. line marked as "junior" and the 4 oz. line marked as "senior." There are some very large glasses that have "stages" like this that can hold 10 to 15 ounces of liquor. I will still buy something this big if I like the glass.
I do not care if a glass is made out of metal or ceramic, but I do not like plastic ones. I will rarely purchase a shot made of plastic (I do own a few plastic glasses, but I personally dislike the trend towards plastic.) I will rarely purchase a glass that has a "stem" or a "foot" (like a wine glass). I also avoid the items that are a shotglass glued to another object (like the top of a stein).
I have talked with a number of people who grew up in places other than America, and have asked them if they have anything like a shotglass "back home." The concept of the "shotglass" seems to be a fairly American phenomenon. Many european countries have the tradition of a "cordial" or "aperatif" as an after-dinner drink, for which there are "special" glasses, but they are usually smaller and more fragile than the classic shotglass. Other countries that have a tradition of drinking alcohol "straight" do not have special glasses -- they just use normal glasses -- whatever is available. There are still many other countries that just do not have a tradition of drinking alcohol.
If anybody reading this has some information about the drinking habits around the world, please leave me a message in the feedback!
Here is a link to my "glasses or designs" page which discusses the differencees beween "collecting shotglasses," and "collecting shotglass designs."