A Jigger is a Bartender’s Tool for Perfect Cocktails

Published ~ September 23rd, 2020 | Updated ~ January 6th, 2021
Author ~ Riley Taylor

We have all been there at some point in our life. Usually when you are new to drinking and going to bars and restaurants. You watch the bartender make your cocktail and they are using some weird-looking device to measure your alcohol.

What were you thinking? “Ugh. why is she being stingy with the liquor? I am paying $4 for that Captain and Coke.” or “What an amateur! Dude doesn’t even know how to make a cocktail correctly”

The reason why is a bartender or a mixologist uses a jigger is to control how much liquor goes into your cocktail. That is the 1 sentence reason why.

Now we can stop this article right here because you have your answer but what would be the fun in that? I assume you are on Alchemix to learn and gain that beautiful knowledge to make you a better bartender.

Why do I need to use a jigger?

Controlling the amount of liquid that goes into a cocktail is essential when you are creating balanced and accurate drinks.

All mixologists will use jiggers to make sure their craft cocktail creations are the same every day. If they are off by 0.25 an ounce that can throw off the balance of the drink.

It also is important when you have other bartenders creating your cocktails. You want to make sure they are creating the same cocktails as the other bartenders.

It also helps control costs. Your common Jack & Coke use 1.5 ounces of Jack Daniels. If you free-pour most bartenders are going to over pour and it adds up.

Yes, free pouring is a fast way to move “and” drinks and of course, your customers LOVE it because it makes them feel special inside because you hooked them up. Which usually results in a bigger tip.

I am not against free pouring and sometimes pouring a little extra is ok because well the margins are usually damn good with these styles of cocktails.

The biggest takeaway from this post on why to use a jigger is for making accurate craft cocktails. Because if you are at home, then why the fuck not can you not enjoy 3 ounces of Jack in your drink?

Name Pros Cons Price
Double Cost is low and several different sizes Marking are hard to read. Usually only 2 different measurements. $2 - $5
Mulit-Level Only need one The increments do not have the ounces clearly laid out $8 - $13
Angled The increments inside are clear Not a very stylish design $12 - $20
Bell The design is elegant and works for all most all bar setups Cost ranges are higher than others $12 - $20
Japenese Great looking design, Speed of pouring Cost ranges are higher than others $12 - $20

Double Jigger

This is the standard jigger you usually receive in gift box sets or most restaurants and dive bars have laying around. They look like two cones stuck together tip to tip. They will also only measure two different amounts of liquor.

0.5 ounce & 1 ounce 0.75 ounce and 1.5 ounce 1 ounce and 2 ounce

These are usually the three most commons sizes you will see around but there are many and some will even do quarter ounces.

Double Jigger

The Pros Cost is usually between $2 to $5 Options to have several different sizes of ounces, more precise

The Cons If you have a lot of different amounts of booze in your cocktails, then you will be having at least 3 different jiggers laying around Markings for the size are usually hard to read if you are in a hurry or dimly lit place

I don’t mind this style. It works and gets the job done. It is always great to have these as backups in case you lose others.

Multi-Level Jigger

This style is going to only have one vessel. It usually has indents inside so when you are pouring you know where you are at.

On the outside is usually the indicators of the ounces.

Most of the ones I have seen go by increments of half an ounce and range from 0.5 ounces up to 2.5 ounces.

Angled Jigger

The Pros Only need one to get a wide range of increments Price range $8 to $13

The Cons The increments inside the jigger do not have the ounces clearly laid out. So if you are not used it or in a volume, high-speed environment, you might tend to pour the wrong amount

I have personally not used this style in a bar environment. I have also not seen these a lot around in businesses. I tend to see these more at-home bar setups.

Angled Jigger

This style is going to also only have one vessel to pour from. It looks like a measuring cup that you would use inside the house.

It will usually have lines with the ounces indicators in the inside of the vessel. The range is typically 0.5 ounces to 2 ounces.

Multi-Level Jigger

The Pros The markings are in the inside and make it easy to know exactly where you are at The shape is easier to hold because of the oval shape

The Cons Cost ranges from $12 to $20 Not a very stylish design The markings tend to wear off over time

I have used these in a cocktail tasting room before. They are nice because of the inside measurements and provide a decent amount of speed when pouring a lot of cocktails.

Personally, I felt I can’t pour as fast with this style over other styles that are double-sided. I have to have a bigger wrist movement than a Japanese or bell style.

They do work great, I am just knit picking right now but smaller movements do help create cocktails faster.

Bell Jigger

This style is going to have a similar style like the double. The biggest difference is instead of cone-shaped, they look like two bells stuck together or even the Stanley Cup. (My first hockey reference!)

There is a decent size contour between each side. This is where you would put two fingers while holding when you are pouring liquid into it.

They can range from 1 ounce to 2 ounces or 2 ounces to 3 ounces. Some will have indicators in the side to mark smaller measurements.

Bell Jiiger

The Pros The design is elegant and works for all most all bar setups The contour makes pouring liquids fast Some have measurements lines in the inside

The Cons Cost ranges from $12 to $20 Some do not have measurements lines in the inside

I have used these in busy scenarios and had no issues with them. They work great and get the job done. Just make sure to get the ones with measurements inside.

Japanese Jigger

This style is also going to have a very familiar style like the double jigger. The biggest difference you are going to see is that they are longer.

The longer design with contour edge where each end meets gives it a great balance. This makes it easy to pour our liquids and even a fluid motion when flipping between each end.

The standard Japanese jigger will be 1 ounce and 2 ounces. They will have the increments for smaller pours inside the vessel with the measurement.

Japanese Jigger

The Pros Great looking design Speed of pouring Almost all measurements in 1 jigger

The Cons Cost ranges from $12 to $20

I have used a Japanese jigger for almost 4 years now for almost all my bartending, home, and doing some R&D.

I just switched all the jiggers at 7 Hills Brewing to this style. This is best style for the style of bartending we do there.

Which Jigger Should I Get?

They all will get the job done for your home bar setup and will work in some sort of fashion in a professional bar.

Here are my rankings

  1. Japanese
  2. Bell
  3. Angled
  4. Mulit-Level
  5. Double

I will always prefer the style when you have increments and measurements inside the vessel. This is great for speed. As a mixologist, speed is important since creating craft cocktails is already a long process. You want to shave off as many seconds as you can when still producing high-quality drinks.

As I stated in the strainer post, don’t let cost sway you. The range of prices is $2 up to $20. That is a very small amount to get something that just feels and works better.

You could even get all 5 to have in your bar for under $100.

Stop reading and go pour accurate cocktails!