Can Shots Be Sophisticated? And Is There a Difference Between a Shot and a Shooter?

published Nov 30, 2012
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

It’s likely over the holidays you’ll get together with old friends and perhaps more likely during this time of year you’ll be offered a shot or shooter of some sort. Aside from being a college co-ed you typically aren’t seeking Liquid Cocaine, a Redheaded Slut or a Prairie Fire as your drink of choice. So can shots be sophisticated? And what’s the difference between a shot and shooter anyway?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Recently, I was at a neighbor’s home for a little soiree. I say home in the most insanely gorgeous, picture-perfect sense. It was more like being on a movie set, and staying in character, the host had an array of offerings from the bar including ice cold vodka which she was serving in darling little shot glasses. She casually sipped hers throughout the evening, lending me to think about sophisticated shots.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Typically when I think of a shot, I think of something straight and strong with the sole purpose of getting your swerve on in a timely fashion or to toast a rowdy group. A shot defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary is a small measure, or serving (as one ounce) of undiluted liquor or other beverage. So if it’s the amount of the liquor that defines it as a shot is it still a shot if you sip it? I tend to think yes, though my husband with numerous years of bartending behind him says NO.

You see, if you sip a shot of rare whiskey or a freezing cold shot of vodka, to me that is still a shot and it is most definitely sophisticated.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Next issue: Is there a difference between a shot and a shooter? Most people I asked (none of whom work in the bar/ booze industry) believe shots and shooters are the same thing. In fact the perception can be regional or even vary depending on the age of the person I was asking. Technically there is a difference. Amy Zavatto, expert dram drinker and author of the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bartending, says a shooter will include a mix of liquors and a mixer; a shot is a straight-up something, or mix of a couple of straight-up-somethings. (*Disclaimer she may have been sipping something when asked this technical question.)

No matter how you pour it, shots and shooters are perfect for putting your shot glass collection to good use. For this week’s 10- Minute Happy Hour I’m pouring a chilled shot of Russian Standard Premium and pairing it with a simple cheese plate. And if you’re curious I plan on sipping my shot and toasting my neighbor Mimi, who showed me how to make a shot seem sophisticated.

Do you think shots and shooters can be sophisticated or are they all Kamikaze’s and Snakebites to you?

Maureen C. Petrosky writes what she knows, food, booze and parties. Author of The Wine Club, she appears regularly on The TODAY show to share her vices, and advice with the world. For more info check out or follow her on twitter @maureenpetrosky

Related: Help Me Find the Perfect Jell-O Shot Recipe!

(Images: Maureen Petrosky)