What Does 2 Fingers of Whiskey Mean?

Two fingers of whiskey is a term that is often used in bars and restaurants. It is a simple way of ordering a serving of whiskey without having to specify an exact amount.


But what does it actually mean? The term refers to the width of two fingers when you hold them next to the glass, which is roughly equivalent to 1.5 to 2 ounces of whiskey.

This measurement is not exact, as finger widths can vary from person to person. However, it is a quick and easy way to ensure that you are not over-pouring your drink. The term is believed to have originated in Scotland, where it was used to describe the amount of whiskey that a person could safely consume without becoming too intoxicated.

If you are a whiskey drinker, it is important to understand what two fingers of whiskey means. This knowledge can help you order the right amount of whiskey and avoid overindulging. In the following sections, we will explore the history of the term and how it is used today.

Understanding the Term ‘Two Fingers of Whiskey’

Two fingers of whiskey is a common expression used in bars and restaurants to order a specific amount of whiskey. It is a unit of measurement that refers to the width of two fingers when held against the side of a glass. This measurement is also known as a two-finger pour.


The origin of this term is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have originated in American saloons in the Old West (1830s to 1920s), where bartenders would pour whiskey into a glass until it reached the width of two fingers. The term has since become a standard measurement in the whiskey industry.

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A two-finger pour typically refers to a serving of whiskey that is approximately two ounces or 60 milliliters. However, the exact amount may vary depending on the size of the glass and the bartender’s pour.

It is important to note that a two-finger pour is not an exact measurement, but rather a rough estimate. Bartenders may use other methods, such as jiggers or measuring cups, to ensure accuracy in their pours.

Historical Context of the Measurement

The “two fingers of whiskey” measurement is an antiquated method of measuring whiskey that has been around for centuries.


It is believed to have originated in Scotland in the 1700s, where it was used to measure out drams of whiskey. The measurement refers to the width of two fingers when held next to a glass, which is roughly equivalent to the volume of whiskey that should be poured into the glass.

The measurement was typically used when ordering a dram of whiskey in an old fashioned glass or tumbler. The old-fashioned glass, also known as a lowball or rocks glass, is a short tumbler with a wide brim that is often used for serving whiskey. The glass is designed to hold ice and a small amount of whiskey, making it perfect for sipping on a cold evening.

The two fingers of whiskey measurement was a popular way of ordering whiskey in the past, but it has largely fallen out of use in modern times. However, many bartenders and whiskey enthusiasts still use the measurement as a way of indicating how much whiskey they would like in their glass.

How to Measure ‘Two Fingers’ of Whiskey

Measuring two fingers of whiskey is a popular way of serving whiskey, especially in bars and pubs.

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glass with scotch whiskey and ice on a glass table

The term ‘two fingers of whiskey’ means that the width of two fingers held next to the glass is the volume of the whiskey. It is a rough way of measuring how much whiskey goes in your glass.

To measure two fingers of whiskey accurately, you need to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Choose the right glass: A standard old-fashioned glass is the best choice for measuring two fingers of whiskey. It has a wide mouth and a thick base, which makes it easy to hold and pour. A rocks glass or a handle glass can also be used, but they may not be as accurate.
  2. Place the glass on a flat surface: To measure two fingers of whiskey, you need to hold the glass steady on a flat surface. This will help you pour the right amount of whiskey without spilling or over-pouring.
  3. Use a consistent measuring tool: It is important to use a consistent measuring tool to measure two fingers of whiskey. A jigger or a shot glass can be used to measure the exact amount of whiskey. However, if you don’t have a measuring tool, you can use your fingers.
  4. Measure two fingers of whiskey: To measure two fingers of whiskey, hold your index and middle fingers next to the glass. The width of two fingers is approximately 1.5 ounces or 45 milliliters of whiskey.
  5. Pour the whiskey: Once you have measured two fingers of whiskey, pour it into the glass slowly. Make sure you pour it directly into the center of the glass to avoid spilling or splashing.

By following these steps, you can measure two fingers of whiskey accurately and enjoy your drink without over-pouring. It is important to note that measuring two fingers of whiskey is a rough way of measuring the amount of whiskey in your glass. If you want to measure the exact amount of whiskey, you should use a consistent measuring tool like a jigger or a shot glass.

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Popular Whiskeys for a ‘Two Finger’ Pour

When it comes to enjoying a whiskey, some people prefer to measure their drink using the “two fingers” method. This is a rough way of measuring the volume of the whiskey, where the width of two fingers held next to the glass represents the amount of whiskey poured.

Two cocktails Mint Julep on a bar counter.

There are many popular whiskeys that are perfect for a “two finger” pour. One of the most well-known is Bulleit Bourbon. This Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey has a high rye content, giving it a spicy and bold flavor that is perfect for sipping. It also has a smooth finish that makes it a favorite among whiskey enthusiasts.

Another popular whiskey for a “two finger” pour is Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7. This Tennessee whiskey has a smooth and sweet flavor, with notes of caramel and vanilla. It is a great choice for those who prefer a milder whiskey.

For those who prefer a more robust flavor, a single malt Scotch whiskey like Lagavulin 16 Year Old is a great choice. This Islay whisky has a smoky and peaty flavor that is sure to satisfy even the most discerning whiskey drinkers.

If you’re looking for a distilled spirit that is perfect for a “two finger” pour, then vodka is a great choice. Brands like Grey Goose and Belvedere are known for their smooth and clean taste, making them perfect for sipping or mixing in cocktails.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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