Shot glasses and jiggers with lime wedges

Jigger Vs. Shot Glass: Which Bar Tool To Use & When?

Shot glasses and jiggers with lime wedges

When you order a drink at the bar, you might notice the bartender directly pouring the liquor into a glass or using a small tool to measure the liquors. Perhaps you observed a tiny glass used to serve strong drinks. Do you know which one is the jigger and which one is the shot glass? 

The jigger and shot glass are sometimes used interchangeably, but the jigger is well-known in the bartending world as the measuring tool, while the shot glass is recognized 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.

Continue reading to learn more about the differences between a jigger vs. shot glass and what separates them from a shooter.

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Jigger Vs. Shot Glass Vs. Shooter


  • One or two sides
  • Can measure 1 oz. on one side and 2 oz. on the other
  • May have measurement labels
  • Most used liquor measuring tool

Shot glass

  • Usually measures 1 - 1.5 oz.
  • May have measurement labels
  • Used in taking “shots”



  • Slender and tall
  • Measures 2 - 3 oz.
  • Used in serving layered shots and straight alcohol, such as B-52 and Kamikaze


The Jigger

The jigger with liquor being poured in the glass

By definition, a jigger is a small tool shaped like an hourglass with two ends acting as a vessel and a measuring device. One side measures 1.5 ounces and is known as the “jigger shot.” The other side measures 1 ounce, known as the “pony shot,” given its smaller capacity.  

It has an exciting and rich history that dates back to the 19th century when used in the United States to measure spirits or wine. There are many types and shapes of jiggers, which include metal, glass, or plastic. Some may only have one side, unlike the typical two-sided jigger.

The jigger is one of the most used bar tool in mixology. While other bartenders like to pour drinks here and there freely, some want to have more precision in measuring, so they utilize the jigger to perfect their cocktails.

Using a jigger also marks the fact that you’re a bartender. Aside from that, when you cannot man the bar, all the other bartenders should 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.

Types of Jiggers

There are two main types of jiggers - the double jigger and the single jigger. However, we have two main types under double jiggers.

  • Single Jiggers

Single jigger with a glass of ice and bottles of liquors

Contrary to the double-sided jiggers, these only have one side, so they look like tiny cups. Single jiggers are great for people who prefer their measurements on one side only to avoid confusion. 

  • Classic Double Jiggers

There are two kinds of jiggers mostly seen at bars as affordable and most common - the Japanese jigger and bell jigger. 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.  

Japanese jigger being poured with liquor

The Japanese jigger is a type of double device but appears more sophisticated with its slim design and smaller diameter rims making drinks easy to pour and less likely to spill. 

  • Bell Jigger

Bell jigger with liquor being poured into a glass

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 more comfortable and less prone to mess.

The Shot Glass

On the other hand, a shot glass is a tiny glass that serves as a vessel for spirits meant to be consumed in a single gulp or shot. While it is mainly a serving glass, some bartenders also use shot glass as a measuring tool. Its name was derived from the term “shot,” meaning a drink of alcohol 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 varying measures of its own.


No matter which bar tool you choose, it boils down to how well you execute your measuring procedures. Some use jiggers but not correctly, so one must utilize each tool the way they were designed to bring out their real purpose. The key to great drinks is following the recipe and getting the right measurements consequently.

Do you need specifics for jiggers and shot glasses reviewed by our team of experts? Check out our buying guide for the best jiggers and best shot glasses. You might also want to read the essential bar tools for your home bar.

Did this article give you clarity on the differences between a jigger and a shot glass? Which of the two is your favorite for measuring liquor? Let us know in the comment section below.

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