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By definition, a jigger is a small tool, shaped like an hourglass with two ends acting as a vessel and a measuring tool. One side measures 1.5 ounces and is known as the “jigger shot” and the other side measures 1 ounce, known as the “pony shot”, given its smaller capacity. It has an interesting and rich history that dates back to the 19th century when it was used in the United States to measure spirits or wine. There are many types of jiggers which include metal, glass, or plastic. There are also different shapes, some may only have 1 side, unlike the typical 2 sided jigger. The jigger is one of the most used materials in mixology. While other bartenders like to pour drinks here and there freely, some like to have more precision in the measurement of the drinks and they utilize the jigger to create perfect drinks. Using it also marks the fact that you’re a bartender. Aside from that, when you cannot man the bar, all the other bartenders should do is to check your recipe and whip out the order. The client will not detect anything different as the alternate bartender used the same measurements as you did, achieved because of the use of the jigger.
The Shot Glass
On the other hand, a shot glass is a tiny glass that serves as a vessel for spirits that are meant to be consumed in a single gulp or shot. While it is mainly a serving glass, some bartenders also use it as a measuring tool. Its name was derived from the term “shot”, meaning a drink of alcohol way back in the 17th century. The term shot was then used to refer to a small drink of liquor in the 1920s and eventually, the phrase “shot glass” was used 20 years later. There is no standard measurement of the typical shot glass but some may range from 1 - 1.5 ounces. There are also different types of shot glasses, each with different measurements of their own.
The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably but the jigger is more known in the bartending world as the measuring tool because the shot glass is more known as a serving glass. It is important to note that both may be used as a measuring tool but only the shot glass is used to serve drinks.
Types of Jiggers
There are two main types of jiggers - the double jigger and the single jigger. However, under double jigger, we have three main types. Each of these will be briefly discussed here.
Classic Double Jiggers
These are the kinds of jiggers mostly seen at bars as they are affordable and most common. Its recognizable shape is that of two cones joined at the tip. One side is slightly larger than the other, measuring 50 ml, and the other side measures 25ml. Others may have larger capacities, at 2 oz. on one side and 1 oz. on the other.
The Japanese jigger is a type of double jigger but appears more sophisticated with their slim design and smaller diameter rims making drinks easy to pour and less likely spill.
Another type of double jigger is the bell jigger. Easily identified by its pronounced hourglass shape, this jigger was designed for those with hand coordination problems. The slight weight of this jigger, coupled with its ergonomic design and wide rim makes pouring easier and less prone to mess.
Contrary to the double-sided jiggers, these ones only have one side so they look like tiny cups. These are great for people who prefer their measurements on one side only to avoid confusion.
Jigger vs. Shot vs. Shooter
To recap, a jigger is the two-sided measuring tool used in bartending. Some examples are listed above. The shot is already discussed as well and it has been established that aside from it being a serving glass, it can also be used as a measuring tool. In fact, there are shot glasses that have measurement labels so it can serve the purpose of measuring. However, some bartenders would often use the regular shot glass without the labels for the measure. It’s okay to do this if you’re already an expert, but if you’re still a beginner, it’s better to use measurements for precision.
On the other hand, a shooter is somewhat similar to a shot glass only that it is more slender and taller. They are used for serving drinks such as B-52, Kamikaze or straight alcohol. They also can hold 2 - 3 oz of drink or alcohol. To better visualize their differences, check these pictures out with their common features:
- 2 sides
- Measures 1 oz in one side and 2 oz on the other
- Made from stainless steel
- Most used measuring tool in bartending
- Has many types and styles
- May or may not contain measurement labels
- Usually measures 1 - 1.5 oz.
- Made from glass
- Small and wide
- Used in taking “shots”
- Slender and tall
- Measures 2 - 3 oz.
- Used in serving layered shots and straight alcohol.
Do you need specifics for jiggers, reviewed by our team of experts? Check out this page. You might also want to check the basic tools for a home bar if you haven’t but always wanted to have one. Copper mugs work best with Moscow Mule so choose your favorite Moscow Mule here.
It is safe to say that all three tools can be in measuring. The most commonly used measuring tool in mixology among the three is the jigger. Jiggers are convenient, stylish and ensure precise measurements in mixing drinks. The shot glass and the shooter are mainly used for serving tiny portions of liquor. There is much difference except for the shape and height.
If you’re new in bartending, it is important that you get used to the jigger first as they are the easiest to use. Jiggers provide comfort and ease in measuring and pouring drinks. They are one of the quintessential tools a bartender must have and master. Once you get the hang out it, you can switch to the shot or the shooter. They require more expertise and care because they might not have measurement labels and they are after all made from glass.
No matter which one you choose, it boils down in how well you execute your measuring procedures. Some use jiggers but not properly. It is crucial that you utilize the tools the way they were designed to bring out their true purpose. The key to great drinks is to make sure to follow the recipe and consequently, get the right measurements.