I've bought and tried various types of glassware for cocktails. Glasses for typical shaken drinks include a cheap martini glass (165 ml), a nick and nora style glass and a coupe (125 ml), among others. This matches with sizes found in shops around the web, where they might even go higher in volume.

However, the basic recipes for cocktails tend to end up a lot smaller, to the point where it looks silly in a glass. For example the "IBA Official" Aviation Cocktail calls for 75 ml of spirits and juices, and shaking over ice (using 30mm square solid cubes, about 5 to 6) will not dilute it to 125 let alone 165 ml of fluids.

Obviously I can just scale up ingredients proportionally. But given that "typical" cocktail glasses don't match up with "typical" cocktail recipes, I feel like I'm making a mistake.

So my question is: how do you go from a typical cocktail recipe (with around 75 ml of ingredients) to a typical 125-165 ml final product?

In my examples above the sizes are for the liquids, assuming around 10% of leeway. So for example the martini glass is 165 ml, but around 180 ml when filled up completely.

  • 1
    This might be a better fit on alcohol.stackexchange.com
    – paparazzo
    Mar 4, 2018 at 12:19
  • 4
    Yes, this would of course be on topic on Alcohol, but it it's perfectly on topic here and already well-answered, so no need to worry about going elsewhere.
    – Cascabel
    Mar 4, 2018 at 16:00

3 Answers 3


Despite what many bars, convenience stores, and fast food restaurants would have you believe, drink glasses are not intended to be "filled to the brim" (or even close). This is particularly true of cocktails and other spirits. The 'head space' allows the drinker to swirl (or, if they have had a few, 'slosh') the drink around to remix the cocktail ingredients as they seek the bottom of the glass. Any water that has melted into the drink will be diluted into the mix, and the drink may be more directly exposed to any remaining ice in order to chill the liquid just as it is consumed. Thus, the 'standard glass' has been designed to exceed the standard drink. Of course, always wanting 'as much as we can get' people tend to expect their neat scotch to be filled to the brim...just like the self-serve uber-drink from the local gas station.

In the absence of an official rule book for pouring drinks into glasses I can offer some references you might look to, including the fact that a Google Image search of "Full Cocktail Glass" almost universally shows images of drinks with significant air on top. Commentaries from self-appointed experts at the bar as well as amateurs chiming in with their thoughts tend to corroborate this view. For my part, if more than two members of the family say the word "reunion", Jack Daniels stock jumps five points...so I can at least pretend expertise...

some images of various types of glasses containing presumably-alcoholic beverages
Even a beer glass (a pilsner) is designed to make room for a head on the 'proper' serving.

  • Thx for your insights. I shouldv'e mentioned my glassware volumes already excluded 'head space' (e.g. my Nick and Nora Glass is 125 ml but 160ml filled to the brim). So the Aviation only fills it for 50%, leaving a lot more 'head space' than probably intended?
    – Jeroen
    Mar 3, 2018 at 23:35
  • 1
    Minor additional point on "sloshing": the waiter or bartender also needs to be able to carry the drink to the customer without spilling a third of it. Not a great experience to watch several sips' worth of your drink end up on the floor or table as it's delivered.
    – jscs
    Mar 4, 2018 at 15:23
  • 1
    @Jeroen: you might want to edit your question to clarify that the sizes you gave already account for head space.
    – Marti
    Mar 4, 2018 at 17:46
  • 1
    @Marti Aye, was trying to think of a way to add it, good point. I've added it merely as a footnote, because this answer has attracted many upvotes and is thus considered useful by the community (and I didn't want to 'invalidate' it by changing my question at this stage too much). - This also means that I won't be accepting this as my specific answer, though it is still certainly helpful and possibly a solution for others interested in this particular issue.
    – Jeroen
    Mar 4, 2018 at 21:30

People's understanding of what "one" cocktail is have varied over the years. See for example this article, which, fittingly enough, discusses nick and nora glasses.

glasses were a lot smaller back then (2 ounces or thereabouts)

The trend towards larger drink sizes has been consistent over the 20th century for both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. I won't go into idle speculation why it happened, but it shows that sizes are not really fixed. I wouldn't be surprised if the standards body of a professional society tries to deviate less from tradition and prescribes smaller sizes than the ones which are commonly used nowadays, while glassware manufacturers' marketing departments go with the trends or even lead/create them.

This is just one factor leading to the discrepancy, there probably are more like Cos Callis' answer shows.


Glasses come in all sizes. Desired drink size come in all sizes. I would not worry about that.

Obviously the answer is to scale up. You are not going to go from 75 ml to 125 ml without scaling.

It is easier to scale up than down.

On that recipe:
4.5 cl Gin
1.5 cl Maraschino
1.5 cl Fresh lemon juice

Just think of it as
3 parts Gin
1 part Maraschino
1 part Fresh lemon juice

That is 5 parts. Chose the part size to get what you want. If you use a 1 oz jigger you get 5 oz which is about 150 ml.

In the US common jigger sizes are 1/2 oz, 1 oz, and 1.5 oz.

2 oz Tequila
1 oz Lime juice
1 oz Cointreau

4 oz is kind of small. Does not mean that is the intended size. It is just the ratio. If you want a bigger glass use a 1.5 oz jigger. Even bigger use 1 oz and just double everything. I you want a pitcher use 1 cup as a jigger.

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