Weights & Measures - Guide for Pubs, Bars & Restaurants

Weights & Measures

The Weights and Measures Act 1985 outlines a range of regulations surrounding the sale of alcoholic beverages. When selling alcohol in pubs, bars and restaurants many drinks are subject to being sold by set volumes. The law protects businesses and their customers by setting out standards that clearly state these measures, improving transparency so customers know what they are being charged for.

Draught Products

Draught Products

Drinks sold via draught taps including beers, lagers, & cider can only be sold by 1/3 pint, 1/2 pint & full pints (or multiples of). Glasses can be filled to the brim in government stamped glasses, these glasses will be marked with their legal measurement and full capacity will match the measure on the stamp. Lined and government stamped glasses however can be filled to lines indicating the measure poured. Only unstamped glasses can be used in cases where "metered dispense" is in use where a bartender may press a button to dispense a legal measure into a glass.

The size of the head can be counted towards meeting the volume however should not exceed 5% of the total volume. However should a customer ask to be "topped up" this request should be granted. With topped draught products e.g. a Larger Top, where a customer has requested a dash of lemonade, the customer should only be charged for the price of the requested measure of the draught product. The same rules apply to selling a Shandy, businesses may charge the full amount for the draught product, this however is up to the business and discounted rates for a Shandy will be preferable to consumers. Mixes however of 2 draught products e.g. Snakebits where there is a larger cider mix should be charged for each half of the draught products price.


There are for main controlled spirits these include Gin, Vodka, Whisky and Rum. These must be sold in measures of either 25ml or 35ml or multiples thereof. Measuring can be achieved either by using bar optics or with thimbles or jiggers, that carry a government stamp to prove they serve the legal volume. Cocktails however with 3 or more spirits are not subject to these legal measurements.

There are some traditional exceptions including Bailey's Irish Cream & Advocaat that should be sold by their "single measure" volume of 50ml.

When using optics for the measurement of spirits make sure the optic fully refills and ensure there is enough sprit in the bottle to fill the optic before dispensing.

Sprit Optics
Wine Measurements

Wines & Fortified Wines

Wine is also regulated and must be served in either a smaller 125ml measure or 175ml, 250ml or by the 750ml bottle. Wine can similarly be measured out with jiggers and thimbles or with lined and government stamped glassware where the server should fill the glass to the line to meet the requested measure. Fortified wines including Port, Sherry, ginger wine, and Vermouth however are traditional exceptions and should be served in a "single measure" of 50ml.

It is always best to recommend smaller measures when suggesting a size to customers leaving it up to their discretion if wanting a larger measure.

Soft Drinks & Pre Packaged Products

Soft drinks including lemonades and colas etc. are not subject to specific measurements however the measure being sold must be outlined to customers in a price list clearly stating the volume and pricing of the product. These may be served in lined glasses to ensure this measure is met or filled to the brim in glasses that match the specified measure.

When selling pre packaged products e.g. alcopops and bottled beers etc these must be clearly labelled with their volumes in drinks menus. The whole product should be sold to the consumer and are not required to be served in Government Stamped glassware.

Soft Drinks & Bottled Drinks

Penalties for failing to comply with the stated weights & measures

Penalties can vary based on a number of factors including number of offences or severity of the non compliance. The maximum penalty for not notifying customers of the size of measures used however is £2,000. Failing to use the correct measure can lead to higher fines with penalties reaching as high as £5,000. Fines can also be given for quality of any products, checks should be in place to ensure the quality of products being sold making sure they are what they are being advertised as. Some products may become compromised in other ways including being watered down or open topped dispensers causing alcohol evaporation so it is recommended to have checks in place to ensure compliance.