Shot glasses probably date back more than 200 years, and nobody seems to agree on just when, where and how they came about.
One origin story I like suggests “shot” refers to a small amount of whiskey. The imbiber downs the contents of the small glass, and then he slams the glass down on the bar with a resounding “shot.”
Another claim: the name comes from Old West saloon patrons bellying up to the bar and trading a cartridge for a glass of whiskey. A shot for a shot, as it were.
Another version suggests the small glass is named after Friedrich Otto Schott and sold by a German glass factory around 1884.
In the 1940s, the shot glass was first documented in reference to regulating the amount of liquor in a drink. By that time, owners probably put it in place to prevent bartenders from overpouring.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org