When mixing cocktails, it's essential to measure your ingredients accurately to get the best results. For that, you need the right measuring tool. And this is when your cocktail jigger comes to action. Besides a cocktail shaker it's another must-have at any bar, and it should be in your home bar as well. Because measuring your ingredients will enable you to nail your cocktails every time.
What is a jigger?
A jigger, also called bar or cocktail jigger, is a small, often hourglass-shaped tool that makes it easy to measure ingredients to create cocktails quickly and consistently. Jiggers can come in different styles and sizes. Sometimes the word "jigger" is also used as a measuring unit itself. So whenever someone asks for a jigger shot: this refers to 1.5oz of whatever liquor you're currently serving.
In the following, I'll give an overview of the different types and styles of cocktail jiggers. I will also show you the key features you should look out for when purchasing one.
Why is it called "jigger"?
First things first: Let's see how the tool got its name as the word "Jigger" sounds pretty unusual. You will probably have a hard time guessing where it's coming from. But I did a bit of research and found some quite interesting stories. I hope you'll like them as much as I do.
There are actually several theories on how the jigger got its name. In one of them, the British navy is involved. -Again, after having invented Gin Tonic and sour cocktails like the Rum Sour. 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.
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 jiggar boss was supposed to deliver "half a gill of Whiskey to every man, sixteen times a day". To give you a reference: half a gill is 2.5oz of Whiskey. So every man drank 40oz of Whiskey a day. That certainly makes one wonder how they felt by the end of the working day.
The last theory says that the word "jigger" is related to the word "thingamajig". And both these words basically mean 'object that has no other name'. I guess it would have been too obvious to call it a measuring cup or something similar. But to be honest, I like the word jigger, and after finding those stories, I like it even more.
Cocktail Jigger measurements
A jigger can have different sizes and measure units. There are jiggers measuring in oz and others measuring in cl. To keep things simple, I'll focus on oz in the following.
Generally, the most common sizes for jiggers are 1oz, 1.5oz, and 2oz. Smaller measurements like 0.25oz, 0.5oz, and 0.75oz usually are indicated within the cup. For example, in a 1oz jigger, there's usually a line indicating either the 0.5oz mark or 0.75oz.
How many ounces are a shot?
A 'shot' usually refers to 1.5oz of spirit. As mentioned above, this can also be called a jigger or jigger shot. There's also a smaller version called the 'pony shot'. This shot indicates 1oz of spirit. However, sizes vary from country to country. In this article, you can read more about how many ounces are a shot.
Measure in cl or oz?
There are jiggers for both formats. As mentioned, I'll stick to oz in this article, but because many recipes are working with cl, I'll quickly explain how you can convert both measures.
1oz is slightly less than 3cl. To be precise, it's 2.957cl. And here's an overview of the most common measurements:
- 0.5oz = 1.5cl
- 1oz = 3cl
- 1.5oz = 4.5cl
- 2oz = 6cl
Types of Cocktail jiggers
There are only two different types of jiggers:
A single or one-sided jigger has a single bowl to contain and measure spirits. Such a jigger can look like a simple shot glass or a more advanced measuring cup with different levels.
A double jigger, or two-sided jigger, has two bowls to measure spirit. It is shaped like an hourglass and usually made of stainless steel. That is the kind of jigger you see in most bars around the world. It's also the type I prefer.
Styles of Jiggers
Cocktail jiggers come in various styles, some being single jiggers, some double jiggers. Here are the most common ones:
A Measuring Cup is a perfect tool for beginners. It's a single jigger that offers a large number of the most common measurements. And they are visible from the outside as well.
A Multi-level or stepped jigger is quite similar to a measuring cup. It's also a single jigger, but it is made of metal. That means it's a bit harder to see the measurement marks.
The classic jigger looks quite bland, but it is functional: A double jigger with two measuring cups in different sizes. The standard size is 1.5oz for the large part and 1oz for the smaller one.
Another double jigger is the Bell jigger. The design is more ergonomic with its rounded curves and slim mid-section. This way, the jigger is easier to hold, and it's even easier to pour spirit.
The slim design and smaller diameter of a Japanese jigger result make measurements more precise. Additionally, the long and narrow design also makes it easier to pour the spirits into your shaker. You have to be a little more careful not to spill the liquid, but overall, in my opinion, they're the perfect cocktail measurement tool.
You might have guessed already this is my personal favorite. Not only because of the refined design but also because it (usually) comes in the 2oz - 1oz combination. For me, these are the perfect measurements when mixing cocktails.