We know the jigger is a very important measuring tool behind the bar. To make consistently delicious cocktails, the keyword is consistency. You achieve this by keeping a time-tested and approved recipe and using the measurements every time.
However, using the jigger can be a bit messy and hard for first-time users. This article outlines some musts and must-not when using a jigger. Practice until you perfect it. You might want to add flair to your jigger skills but don’t go there yet until you’re adept with the basic jigger skills.
Precision jiggers like a Japanese jigger or the classic double jigger are the trickiest to use since you need to fill it up to the meniscus. If you are not too careful here, chances are you’ll tip off the jigger too early, losing some precious milliliters of your ingredients.
Increment markers on the jigger do not make it any better, either, especially if you are using a metal jigger that you cannot see from outside. Reading from the top can be tricky too. So, practice is everything in measuring using a jigger.
Measure your ingredients in the correct order
If you are using a single jigger for all your ingredients, measuring honey first before your liquors can mean less liquor than you think you had since some of the honey may be left on the jigger. Your best choice is to measure the thinnest ingredients first - liquors, light syrup, puree, honey or heavy syrup - in that order.
If the heavier ingredients need to be poured first, like the puree or heavy syrup before the liquors, rinsing it out can prepare the jigger for the next ingredient.
Hold your jigger properly?
Holding the jigger between your index finger and the thumb may be the easiest but certainly is not the most efficient. You will either flip the jigger over or hold your jigger in an awkward position. This is especially difficult if you are using a bell jigger.
The best trick is to hold the jigger between the index and the middle fingers or between the middle and the ring fingers. This way, you can measure and pour better with just a flip of the hand. Practice using the different kinds of double jiggers, except for the handled one.
Things you MUST do when using your jigger1. Your best bet to perfecting your jigger measuring skills is practice, practice, practice. Also, be sure to perfect your measuring before you practice your speed.
2. Practice measuring using different jigger styles. Each has its own nuances that you have to get used to. The most used jiggers are the classic double jigger, Japanese jigger and the measuring cup with the angled measuring line.
3. Practice at the perfect level. Hold your jigger at eye level so you can see the meniscus. Others might measure by sitting the jigger of the counter and then bending down to read the measurement. This can be tedious and back-breaking if you have to do this a hundred times a night.
1. You must not pour too quickly since you may pour more than you need, resulting in spills. Spilled liquors can be very expensive so you don’t want to spill those.
Things you MUST NOT do when using your jigger
2. You must not get careless with measuring. Again, this may result in expensive and pointless waste.
3. You must not hold your jigger over your shaker or serving glass. In case of accidental spills, you inadvertently add more of your ingredient than is necessary into your cocktail.
Adding flair to your jigger skills
If you’re new at bartending, you might have the tendency to showcase your flair skills when mixing a drink. While it may be entertaining, it’s not always appreciated especially if your customer just wants to sit back and enjoy his drink alone. Pro tip: Throw in a flair once in a while but limit it to a single one in a drink. Experts would rather have a bartender who engages them than a show-off.
When you decide to add flair, use the jigger and other tools you practice with so you get a good feel of it all the time. Usually, it is not just the jigger you use in a particular flair skill. It also involves other tools the most popular of which are the cocktail tin and a bottle with pourer.
Practice during your free time, never when you’re on the clock unless you want to get fired.
Here are a few jigger flairs you can try:
1. The Jigger Toss
Toss your jigger in your dominant hand, catch it with the same hand then stick it between your fingers in the measuring hand.
2. The Jigger Tap
3. Reverse Thumb Roll
The trick is to hold the jigger between the thumb and the four fingers then using the last three fingers to push the jigger forward, roll it over the thumb and catch it with the thumb and other fingers.
4. Regular Thumb Roll
The regular method is to roll the jigger on your thumb towards you then catch the jigger to get ready for measuring. You can add more
5. Scissor Grip
Hold the jigger between the index and middle finger. Using the index finger, pull the jigger towards you so you can catch it with your index finger and thumb.
Having the right tools is a must but being able to use them properly is even better. Get the most out of your tools by serving the best cocktails and keeping unnecessary waste to a minimum. Should you need to explore jigger types, feel free to check out this article.