Any bar glassware guide will tell you that the one thing that matters most is consistency. Of all the bar glassware types and tools a home bartender should have, your jigger will be the one tool that improves your bartending skills like nothing else can.
You’ll notice an immediate difference when you stop measuring your pours by count (or worse—eyeballing it!) and start measuring with precision like a true mixologist. Learning how to use a jigger will take your bartending skills to a whole new level.
What is a Jigger?
The name of this nifty little tool comes from the unit of measurement it’s typically used to measure. You know this particular liquid unit as a shot, which is exactly 1.5 fluid ounces.
Bar jiggers have more to offer than that one measurement, though. Instead of simply measuring a fluid jigger (or 1.5oz shot) they allow you to precisely pour varying measurements for that perfect cocktail every time.
Most jiggers are made of stainless steel. Two opposing cones of unequal sizes come together and meet in the middle, forming an hourglass shape. Think of a jigger as two differently-sized shot glasses attached to each other by their bottoms.
The Standard Jigger Vs. The Double Jigger
The most common size for a bar jigger measures 1.5oz on one side and .75oz on the other. That gives you the ability to measure a precise half shot in addition to a full one.
While a standard jigger will help you make awesome cocktails with consistency, you can improve your mixology skills even more by choosing a Japanese style jigger set or the OXO Steel Double Jigger. Think of the double jigger as an advanced tool that you’d find in a more extensive bar glassware guide.
The OXO double jigger includes the standard jigger measurements. In addition, it has etched lines marking other increments so that you can measure every single cocktail component with absolute precision and consistency.
A really nice feature of the Japanese style jigger is a steeper, taller angle of the side walls. The design is more aesthetically pleasing overall and makes it much easier to avoid spilling. Classic jiggers have a shape that makes it easy for less experienced bartender to have problems with spilling, which is a total faux pas when it comes to alcohol!
Using Your Jigger Properly
It’s not enough to simply have a jigger; you’ve got to know how to use it properly. We’ve put together a few tips to help you master your jigger technique.
- …get accustomed to resting your jigger easily between your fingers for fast, steady pouring.
- …know how to measure properly and accurately with each jigger style.
- …pour your thinnest ingredients first. Thick liquids leave residue inside the jigger, throwing off measurements of the next ingredients added. Always save your thick ingredients for the very last measure.
- …follow the proper method: hold the jigger between your fingers, pour to the appropriate level and pour your perfectly-measured contents into the glass.
- …pour too fast, as this causes over-pouring.
- …get careless. Remember: sloppy measuring is worse than not measuring at all!
- …hold your jigger over the mixing glass while you pour. If you spill, you want to avoid that excess liquor going into your cocktail!
With a little bit of practice you’ll be effortlessly wielding your jigger like a master and making perfect, consistent cocktails every time. A jigger feels awkward at first, but don’t let that discourage you. Practice your pours and before you know it you’ll have the technique of a master mixologist!