What is a Handle of Alcohol?
A handle is a bottle that contains 1.75 liters of alcohol of a particular spirit. The most commonly discussed handle of liquor is the handle of vodka. Consumers prefer a handle because it typically represents a savings over other liquor bottle sizes.
Written by CraftJack | Updated | 4 min read
The major spirits all feature the handle bottle size, as well as some liqueurs. Why bring a little Holiday Cheer at the next family party when you can bring a Handle of Holiday Cheer?
- Rum Handles: Bacardi. Goslings. Kraken.
- Vodka Handles: Absolut. Ketel One Vodka. New Amsterdam. Smirnoff.
- Whiskey Handles: Jack Daniel’s. Jim Beam. Old Forester.
The manufacturer decides the shape of the handle in the build process. Some handles leave holes for your fingers to go through, while other bottles are crafted in such a way as to allow you to grip them without.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka is a good example of a Vodka brand that builds their handles with a hole to improve your grip. We prefer that style of alcohol bottle as liquid spillage can sometimes make things slippery. A handle with a traditional grip is easier to maintain control of, because no one likes to drop a bottle of booze, that would be considered a major party foul.
Unlike Tito’s is Sweden-produced, French-owned (Pernod Ricard) Absolut. Absolut Vodka, as well as a brand such as Svedka and Skyy Vodka, builds their “grip” or “handle” into the bottle. A bottle of liquor tends to look classier this way, with brands preferring form over function, in our opinion.
Then there are brands like Grey Goose, New Amsterdam and Smirnoff Vodka who refuse to take either approach - at least at the time we researched this.
As you may or may not know, every brand of spirit markets and sells their product at different price points. There is a large gap between the worst, college grade vodka and the best vodka in terms of price.
But the difference also extends across the type of spirit and it’s manufacturing process. For instance, the Best Vodka might be twice the price of the Worst Vodka, but it’s still relatively cheap compared to Specialty Kentucky Bourbons and Single Malt Whiskeys, as well as High Profile Tequila and Rare Vintages of Cognac.
Given that, we will try and give you some insight into the cost of handle by both brand, spirit, and alcohol content. Because yes, sometimes price is affected by something as simple as the alcohol content in a particular type of liquor.
For the most part, no, Handles of Flavored Vodka tend to retain the same shape and size as their non-flavored counterparts. Consider that a change in size or shape would alter the manufacturing process. Same goes for how that alcohol brand ships their product. It’s safe to say that if you’re in the market for flavored vodka, the bottle will be identically built.
Vodka, as a spirit, tends to be the most mixable of them all when it comes to cocktail recipes. The Handle represents a “bulk” format when it comes to bottle sizes that everyday consumers can purchase. Thus the cost savings of a Handle of Vodka over a smaller pint or other size makes sense for people using mixers at their parties.
Let’s put it another way, producers of Single Malt Scotch aren’t chasing the party life. No one is putting Johnny Walker Blue into their cocktail recipes at a common frat party. One because they can’t afford to, and two because that’s not the purpose of the spirit.
There are approximately 38-39 shots in a handle. Why do we give a variation unlike other sources? It’s because there are two ways to interpret the amount of shots in a handle.
- 39.44 is the absolute number of shots in a handle
- 38+ is the relative number of shots in a handle, once you account for the inevitable spillage that occurs when pour into a shot glass.
How did we arrive at that number? A handle, as we’ve discussed, is a 1.75-liter bottle. That translates to 59.17 ounces per bottle.
A standard shot is 1.5 oz. 59.17 divided by 1.5oz (shot) results in the answer, 39.44 (shots per bottle).
Note: How many ounces per shot
There is enough liquor in a handle to provide for 38-39 standard drinks. Yes, the math works the same as a shot. That’s because a standard drink is defined as 1.5oz of alcohol.
There are more than enough shots in a handle to get you drunk. So don't even try to consume a Handle by yourself. In fact, don't try to finish a handle with less than 7-8 people. And even then, we don't recommend heavy intoxication.
Unlike a standard drink, the number of cocktails that a Handle can pour depend upon the measurements involved with the cocktail recipes you are using. Bloody Marys, Long Island Ice Teas, and Margaritas all have different requirements when it comes to the total alcohol needed to produce the drink.
The same goes for the preferences of the consumer. Some people might prefer their Paloma with a little more Grapefruit and a little less booze. Some people might prefer their Jack & Ginger to be a little heavy on the Jack Daniel’s. Preference leaves the total amount of cocktails in a Handle as an arbitrary number
Yes, Fireball Cinnamon Whisky is available in all sizes, including a Handle. While the most common - or at least seemingly most common - format of Fireball is the single serving 1.5oz shot-sized plastic bottle, the Sazerac Company does in fact produce a Handle so that you and your friends can pour each other whatever amount you’d like.
Unfortunately, a Handle is 5.5 oz shy of being a Half Gallon. You could arguably call a Handle a Half Gallon when you are casually referring to how much alcohol you have in one particular bottle, but it would be inaccurate to those who prefer precision.
A standard bottle of liquor is 750ml. That makes a Handle one whole liter larger than a standard bottle.
That is also true for wine, where a standard bottle is also 750ml. A magnum of wine is 1.5l.
Beer is also served in mass quantities, it's just not available in the Handle size per se. A growler of beer is 64oz, and, a smaller version, the crowler, is 32oz. Some breweries also produce 750ml specialty bottles of their craft brews.