Accurately measuring the ingredients of a cocktail recipe is one of the crucial tasks for bartenders when making a cocktail. For that, you need the right tool. That is when a jigger comes into action. This little measuring device helps bartenders to get the exact measurements for each ingredient of a drink. The standard jigger size is 1.5 ounces (45ml) on the larger side, and 1 oz (30ml) on the smaller side.
Besides other tools like cocktail shakers, bar spoons, and strainers, it's part of the basic equipment of any bartender at any bar - including your home bar. So let's see what there's to know about this nifty bartending tool.
First, What Is a Jigger?
A jigger, often only called a bar jigger or cocktail jigger, is a small and usually dual-sided hourglass-shaped tool that makes it easy to measure ingredients to create cocktails quickly and consistently. They come in different sizes and designs.
This tool is used by bartenders for measuring and pouring liquid ingredients when mixing cocktails. It comes with various marks inside the measuring cups that indicate different amounts.
The capacity of each side varies between 0.5 and 2.5oz or the respective amount in ml. Sometimes the word "jigger" is also used as a measuring unit. So whenever someone asks for a jigger shot - this refers to 1.5oz of whatever liquor you're serving.
A jigger can have different sizes and measurement units. Typically the large bowl holds 1.5 to 2 ounces of liquid, and the smaller cup is usually 0.75 to 1 ounce.
While some measure in oz, others in cl or ml. Always check for that when using a new measuring tool for making a drink. Also, the overall capacity can vary. For instance, a standard Japanese-style Jigger holds 2 ounces on one side and 1 ounce on the other.
One jigger (shot) is exactly the amount of one standard shot glass - 1.5 ounces. Hence, if a recipe asks for one shot, it refers to 1.5 oz of spirit. A pony shot is a little less and translates to 1oz of liquid.
|1 1/2 oz
|1 1/2 oz
|1 1/4 oz
|1 1/2 oz
How to Measure in cl, ml, or oz?
There are jiggers for both - the so-called US fluid ounce (oz) and the imperial system (ml/cl). I usually refer to oz, yet as many recipes use cl or ml, I'll quickly show how you can convert both measures.
1 oz is slightly less than 3 cl, 29.57ml to be precise,. 10ml convert to 1cl. To make it easier, here's an overview of the most common measurements in oz and how they translate to cl and ml.
|Amount in cl
|Amount in ml
The Various Types of Jiggers
There are different types of cocktail jiggers, from one-sided (single) to two-sided (double) and from Classic to Bell to Japanese jiggers.
A single or one-sided jigger has a single bowl to fill in and measure spirits. It can look like a simple shot glass or a more advanced measuring cup with different levels. It's great for home bar use but not very common with professionals.
A double or two-sided jigger has two bowls to measure liquids. It is shaped like an hourglass and is usually made of stainless steel. That is the kind you see in most bars. It's also the type I prefer.
The two bowls are of different sizes, for example, 1oz and 2oz. Each bowl has marks on the inside that indicate partial amounts. For instance, the 1oz bowl could have marks for 0.5 oz and 0.75 oz, while the 2 oz bowl typically has a 1.5 oz mark.
These are the most common styles:
The classic jigger looks unspectacular but is functional: A double jigger with two measuring cups in different sizes. The standard size is 1.5 or 2 oz for the large part and 1oz for the smaller one.
Japanese Precision Jigger
The slim design and thin diameter of Japanese jiggers make measurements more precise. Additionally, the length of this tool combined with its narrow shape makes it easier to pour the spirits into your shaker without spillage.
This one is my favorite and also the most common type you'll see in bars. Not only because of the fancy design but also due to its versatility - it (usually) comes in the practical 2oz - 1oz combination.
Another double-sided is the Bell jigger. The design is more ergonomic with its rounded curves and slim mid-section. That facilitates holding it and makes it easy to pour spirits.
It comes in different sizes, but, in most cases, the small cup holds 1 ounce and the large cup 2 ounces.
A Multi-level or stepped jigger is quite similar to a measuring cup. It's a typical single-sided but made of metal.
A measuring cup is a perfect tool for beginners. It's a single jigger made of clear plastic that includes most of the standard measurements shown on the outside. It has a single-basin advantage which often leads to less spillage and faster serving times.
Once you're used to measuring small amounts of liquids, I recommend switching to a bell or Japanese-style jigger. These allow for faster measuring and pouring.
Why is it called "jigger"?
There are actually several theories on how the tool got its name. In one of them, the British Navy is involved. -Again, after having invented the Gin & Tonic and Cocktails like the Navy Grog.
History says that it goes back to the sailors who named their daily ration of booze after the lowest mast on the ship, the jiggermast - probably because they felt like they rarely got enough. 
When digging further, I also found an Oxford English Dictionary definition. According to them, in the US Northeast in the 19th century, Irish laborers were supplied with Whiskey by a boy called the jiggar boss.
The last theory says that "jigger" is related to the word "thingamajig", meaning 'object that has no other name'. I guess it would have been too straightforward to call it a measuring cup or something similar.