Comment: I was watching the Sci-Fi channel and saw a story on the tombstone legends. Reportedly, people who went to the tavern were able to trade one of their bullets for a small drink from the ber tender. This was because a bullet in those days was worth the same amount as a drink. This, they say, is why the drinks were known as a "shot".
Posted by Jay Tea on :
Spurious at best. The use if the word 'shot' has been attested etymologically as far back as 1676, meaning "drink of straight liquor".
Going back this far, the name comes from the glass the drinks are served in as opposed to any trading of bullets - small vessels were filled with fine lead shot and used to clean and store quills - hence 'shot-glass'.
Still, this is not to suggest an alternative etymology occurred around swapping bullets for whisky, but the term had been around a lot longer than bullets themselves so it certainly isn't the original etymology, besides, as far as i'm aware, whiskey was a much more precious commodity than ammunition for the 'tombstone legends', and it would have cost you more than a few bullets to get wasted!
Posted by Sparverius, the feathered serpent on :
I second the suggestion (and with absolutely no research to back this up) that a drink of whiskey would be worth considerably more than a single bullet.
Posted by skrap on :
I just posted this same story down in urban legends! skap