A bartender is never complete without his tools of the craft. One of those important tools that a bartender cannot do without is the jigger. Okay, that may be a bit exaggerated. He can still make his cocktails but to be consistent in the taste of his prized cocktails, he should have a jigger.
Other smaller glasses like a 1.5 ounce shot glass can be used to measure cocktail ingredients but for smaller measurements like ¼ or ⅓ of an ounce, it may present a problem. To solve that, a jigger is a must.
The jigger is usually marked in ounces, milliliters, or both. In case it is not marked with both and your jigger is marked in ounces but your recipe comes in milliliters, it is fairly easy to convert. One ounce is shy of 30ml so if your recipe calls for 45ml, you are good to go with 1 ½ ounce of your ingredient.
Different Types of Jigger
The earlier jigger was a double jigger invented and patented by Cornelius P. Dungan in 1893. The problem with precision jigger is the meniscus and the resulting mess. Since then, a few tweaks were given to it, resulting in better measuring and pouring.
Why is it called a jigger?
There are a few stories surrounding it, depending on who tells the story. For the Brits, the term was derision of the minuscule daily ration of alcohol, using the jiggermast as a reference. The jiggermast is the smallest sail on the British ships, hence, jigger.
The third, thingamajig, seems to be a play of words in the league of words like gobbledygook, mishmash, and wishy-washy that does not have real meaning at the time but eventually found a working meaning and made its way into the dictionary. Thingamajig which literally means “something that one does not know the name of” because people do not know how to call the measuring tool back then became the root for the name the jigger. The root word remains in the dictionary as a form of slang, though.
As the name implies, the single jigger has a single cup, marked in graduations. It solved the problem of the meniscus and pouring. Technically, this is the first version of a jigger so adding measurements is just an improvement. Personally, these are more convenient to use since you don’t have to flip over the jigger to get the other measurements.
The multi-level jigger is the simplest in a lot of single jiggers. It can be stainless steel, glass, or plastic. The measurements are marked in ½ ounce graduations in a 2.5 ounces container. Another form of the stepped jigger has increment markers along the body of the jigger giving it a groove treatment for each increment mark. The flared rim also helps to lessen the incidence of spills.
Measuring cup jigger
The measuring cup jigger is another improvement from the single jigger or the shot glass used to measure cocktail ingredients. The angled marker inside the measuring cup is good for reading measurements from above, no more peeking.
The stepped jigger is a definite improvement from the precision measurement and messy pouring. It has “steps” on it that mark the different measurements. The lowest step measures ½ ounce, the second step measures ½ ounce and so on. The jigger can hold 2 ½ ounces, measuring 2 ounces is a safe option with no mess at all. The material can be glass or plastic so measuring is easy enough to see. Not only can be used in the bar, but it can also be used in the kitchen.
The double jigger is a patented design and improvements to it were also introduced to improve this bar tool. Unfortunately, it did not do much because the other versions are still precision jiggers.
Classic Double Jigger
The classic double jigger is squatter and wider making it easier to mess with. It usually has ¾ oz on one side and 1 ½ ounces on the other side but others have 1 oz on the smaller side and 2 ounces on the larger side. However, you have to fill it to the top for more accurate measurements, making it more prone to spills.
The Japanese jigger is the sleeker version of the classic double jigger. However, this design does not do much if not messier than the classic double jigger. It has the same measurements as the classic double jigger and is also a precision one, meaning the biggest measure has to be filled to the top. This is the jigger that is most appropriate to use when doing some flair moves, especially if it has a ring in the middle. Bartenders claim that this is the hardest to master among the jiggers.
The bell jigger seeks to improve the grip on the jigger, especially when the bartender has large hands. The curved design of the cups resembling the bowl of the bell, making it less strenuous to the bartender. It is also a precision jigger with 1 ounce smaller bowl with ¼ ounce increments and a 2-oz bowl with ½ oz increments on the other side.
Jigger with handle
When you are pouring 3 or more drinks at once, not all the glasses can be within reach. The jigger with handle is an innovation that adds to your reach as well as makes it easier for you to hold. However, the downside of this jigger is also found on the handle. The farther the jigger is from your hand, the harder it is to control spills.
Non-jigger measuring: the measured pourer
Unlike the free-pour liquid pourers, these are calibrated to pour 1-2 ounces of liquid into your glass. The stainless steel balls in the pourer’s neck stop the pouring when it has reached the preset amount, say 1 oz. To reset it, all you need is to set the bottle upright. Be sure to tilt your bottle at 45-60 degrees to get a good pour. No more messy pours, drips, and spills. It takes some time to get used to it. You cannot calibrate it though to give you ¼ ounces of an ingredient.
Whether you opt to use a single jiggle, double jigger or the measured pourer, understand that mastering a trick takes time. So go easy with yourself in case you make a mesh the first, second, or even third try. Choose a jigger that works best for you and not because one recommends it. We would suggest having 2-3 jiggers at hand, using one for syrups that may leave some of it on the jigger, giving you an inaccurate measure. For more jiggers to choose from, check out this review of the best jiggers of 2020.Check out our monthly free samples or sign up to our free VIP club to avail of our exclusive rebate program. No credit cards required. No need to purchase anything. We just want to say thank you.