Mixology 101: Understanding Jigger Measurements for Exceptional Cocktails

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: January 20, 2024
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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Welcome to the world of mixology, where precision is key and where every drop counts. Whether you’re a seasoned bartender or a home enthusiast, understanding jigger measurements is essential to crafting balanced and delicious cocktails.

Key Takeaways:

  • A jigger is a critical tool for any bartender, allowing for precisely measuring alcoholic ingredients.
  • Various types of jiggers, like the double jigger, single jigger, or Japanese jigger, offer versatility in measurement and style.
  • Proper use and maintenance of jiggers ensure longevity and continued precision.
  • Alternatives such as the Oxo measuring cup offer different measurement approaches, each with unique advantages.

Understanding the Jigger

So What is a Bar Jigger, Anyway?

A bar jigger is a fundamental tool in the arsenal of any bartender. This hourglass-shaped measuring device consistently measures alcoholic ingredients, ensuring every cocktail’s balance and taste remain consistent.

Why is it called a Jigger, Anyway?

The word ‘jigger’ has a muddled history. Some believe it’s modelled after sherry glasses, while others attribute the term to mining jargon.

The Types and Styles of Jiggers

What are the Different Jigger Styles?

Jiggers come in various styles, each with its unique properties and uses. The basic bar jigger, often made of stainless steel, usually has a larger cup or ‘jigger shot’ that measures 1.5 ounces and a smaller ‘pony shot’ that measures 1 ounce. But you may also find multi-level jiggers with additional measurement markings for smaller amounts or bell jiggers with a more rounded shape.

Japanese Jiggers

Briout Jigger for Bartending, Double Cocktail Jigger Japanese Premium 304 Stainless Steel Jigger 2 OZ 1 OZ with Measurements Inside

Japanese jiggers, or the Japanese precision jigger, are admired for their sleek design and accuracy. Their thin diameter and tall, narrow shape make them ideal for making drinks with many ingredients. We’ve covered Japanese Jiggers and Bell Jiggers too.

The Single Basin Advantage

Barfly M37108 Drink Jigger, 2 oz, Stainless w/Handle

With their one-sided design, single jiggers offer the single basin advantage many bartenders find handy. Their simplicity and ease of use make them the tool for quick service bars.

Double Jiggers

OXO SteeL Double Jigger

Double jiggers, with their dual-measurement capabilities, are a versatile tool offering measurements for both single and double shots.

Impact of Proper Measurement on Cocktail Taste

Understanding the balance between ingredients in a cocktail is much like composing a symphony, where a slight change in composition can significantly alter the final result.

Jigger vs Free Pouring: A Comparative Analysis

Mixology is as much an art as a science, and bartenders employ various methods to measure liquid ingredients to achieve the perfect drink balance. Two such methods of measuring ingredients are using a jigger and free pouring.

Understanding Free Pouring

Free pouring, often seen in fast-paced bar environments, relies on the bartender’s experience to measure liquor without a jigger. It is associated with a signature bartending style and flair but can lead to inconsistency in taste.

The Pros and Cons of Jigger and Free Pouring

The choice between the two often depends on the bartender’s comfort, the bar’s pace, and the type of drinks being served.

Jiggers require more time but offer precision, while free pouring can quickly mix drinks but may sacrifice consistency.

Unpacking Jigger Measurements

A well-crafted cocktail recipe isn’t just about the quality of the ingredients; it’s also about the exact proportions.

Jigger Measurements

Jigger measurements are crucial in mixology. They allow the bartender to accurately measure liquor and other liquid ingredients, resulting in a perfectly balanced cocktail.

How Many Ounces Are in a Jigger?

While jigger sizes can vary, the standard jigger size in the U.S. holds 1.5 ounces on its larger side and 0.75 ounces on its smaller side. This is often called a “jigger shot.”

How Many Ounces is Half a Shot?

Half a shot, also called a pony shot, typically holds 0.75 ounces of liquid. This measurement is essential for creating lighter cocktails or adjusting the strength of a drink.

The Skill and Technique Behind Jigger Usage

How to Use a Cocktail Jigger

Using a cocktail jigger effectively requires more than just a steady hand. It demands an understanding of the measurement markings, a feel for the weight and balance of the jigger, and a practised finesse to pour smoothly.

Next, fill the jigger to the appropriate measurement line with your chosen liquid ingredient. Be sure not to overfill or underfill it, as this can throw off the balance of your cocktail. Once filled, carefully pour the measured liquid into your mixing glass or shaker. It is important to pour slowly to avoid spilling and to ensure that all the measured liquid makes it into your cocktail.

Finally, after using the jigger, it’s important to rinse or clean it to ensure it’s ready for the next ingredient. This helps to avoid cross-contamination between different ingredients.

Why Do Bartenders Hold Jigger Between Finger

This technique provides better control and precision. Holding a jigger between the index and middle finger allows the thumb to support the base, enabling a firmer grip and preventing spillage during the pouring process.

Alternatives to Jiggers

While jiggers are a staple in many bars, bartenders sometimes use alternative measuring devices to suit specific needs or preferences.

Shot Glasses

A common alternative to the jigger is the shot glass. While most shot glasses don’t offer the variety of measurements that a jigger does, they can be handy in a pinch for measuring out a standard pour.

The Non-Jigger: Precision Liquor Bottle Pourers

Precision liquor bottle pourers are another popular alternative. These devices fit into the top of a liquor bottle and pour a predetermined amount of liquid, speeding up service in a busy bar. However, they lack the versatility of a jigger and can be less accurate if not used correctly.

Measuring Cups: The Oxo Measuring Cup

Some bartenders prefer to use a small measuring cup, like the Oxo measuring cup, for their cocktail crafting. These cups usually have several measurement markings, which can be handy for crafting cocktails with numerous ingredients. They are also typically larger than a jigger, making them better suited for cocktails that call for larger amounts of an ingredient.

OXO Good Grips 2-Cup Angled Measuring Cup

Caring for Your Jigger: Maintenance and Cleaning

Proper cleaning and storage not only ensure accurate measurements but also extend the lifespan of your jigger.

Daily Cleaning

Regular cleaning is crucial to maintain the accuracy of a jigger. Residue from sticky liqueurs or syrups can affect subsequent measurements and change the taste of your cocktails. Most jiggers, particularly stainless steel ones, can be easily cleaned with warm water and mild dish soap.

Deep Cleaning

Over time, your jigger may need a deep clean to remove any persistent residues or stains. This is particularly true for copper or silver jiggers that can tarnish over time. A solution of vinegar and baking soda can help restore the shine of your jigger.

Proper Storage

Proper storage of your jigger is equally as important as cleaning. Jiggers should be stored in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight. This prevents any damage from heat or moisture and keeps your jigger ready for use at any time.

Regular Check-ups

Regularly inspect your jigger for any damage, such as cracks or chips, which can affect its accuracy. Damaged jiggers should be replaced to ensure the quality of your cocktails.

Where to Buy: Popular Jigger Brands and Sources

Top Jigger Brands

As the demand for high-quality bartending tools grows, look for brands like
A Bar Above, OXO, Homestia and Barfly have received good reviews for their bar equipment.

Trusted Sources for Buying Jiggers

Whether you’re purchasing online or in-store, knowing where to buy your jigger can ensure you’re getting a quality product at a fair price. Shops like WebstaurantStore.com, Barsupplies.com, BarProducts.com, and Amazon are good places to check.

Crafting the Perfect Cocktail: A Conclusion

Whether you’re a professional bartender or an enthusiastic home mixologist, understanding the art and science behind jigger usage can enhance your cocktail creations, making them more balanced, tasteful, and enjoyable.