How To Use A Jigger (The Right Way)

how to use a jigger
Joe | Last Updated: November 27, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

Making cocktails can seem like hard work to those on the other side of the bar, but with proper use of bar tools, it’s actually much easier than they realize.

Consistency is key when it comes to making cocktails, and you achieve this through repetition, confidence, and using the correct measurements every single time.

This is where the jigger comes in. The jigger is a crucial measuring instrument that should be found behind every commercial and home bar all around the world.

In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to use a jigger the right way so that you can up your cocktail-making game and become more consistent with every drink made.

Let’s get into it…

What Are Jiggers Used For?

A jigger is a measuring device that is used for measuring and pouring alcohol. Most jiggers feature two conjoining cups that have different measurements on each side.

They’re small, hourglass-shaped devices that are usually made from stainless steel and are used by bartenders in almost every drink they serve.

Jiggers provide consistent, accurate measurements of liquid which is crucial when making cocktails to ensure that the drink is not too strong.

how to use a jigger
Photo by Timur Weber

Overpouring is surprisingly common in bartending, and whilst some bartenders do this from time to time to sneak an extra shot into their friend’s drinks but when it becomes a habit, it can be costly for the business and ruin cocktails.

A jigger helps combat overpouring and is a quick and easy way to ensure the correct amount of liquid is going into each and every drink.

>> Read more: 9 BEST Jiggers For Bartenders

How To Use A Jigger Correctly

You’ll be glad to know that like many other bar tools, the jigger is incredibly easy to use and doesn’t require much training to get the hang of.

However, if you are a little nervous about using the jigger for the first time in front of customers, feel free to practice using the jigger with a bottle of water first.

This way you’ll be full of confidence when the time comes to use the jigger behind the bar and you’ll remove any fear of shakey hands spilling the spirit.

Follow the below steps to learn how to use the jigger correctly.

  1. Place your middle and index fingers around the back of the jigger before gripping it with your thumb, using your non-dominant hand. This makes it easy to pour from the jigger with a simple hand flick instead of moving your arm.
  2. Steadily hold your jigger close to your mixing glass or cocktail shaker. This is more efficient and saves time, but it also prevents you from spilling expensive liquid whilst moving the jigger to the glass. It’s not advised to fill the jigger over the mixing glass as any excess will spill into the container, ruining the recipe and potentially making the drink too strong.
  3. Pick up your spirit bottle with your dominant hand. If the bottle is using a pourer (which it should), hold the bottle close to the neck to ensure you can stop pouring quickly, but if not you can hold the bottle closer to the middle.
  4. Fill the jigger right to the top to ensure you’re getting the correct measurements.
  5. Flick your wrist so that the measured liquid pours into the mixing glass or cocktail shaker.

You can also check out this helpful video from one of our brand partners that explains the way bartenders use jiggers;

What Are The Measurements On A Jigger?

The most common combinations for jiggers that you’ll find in most bars around the world will measure liquid to 1 ounce and 2 ounces or 0.75 ounces and 1.5 ounces.

A “shot” or “single” is 1.5 ounces and a double is 3 to 4 ounces of liquid depending on the jigger being used.

Depending on the type of jigger being used, measurements may be found either on the inside of the jigger or on the outside.

Why Does A Jigger Have Two Sides?

Jiggers have two sides because it allows the bartender to use one bar tool to serve two different measurements of alcohol, making it more efficient than a single jigger.

There are jiggers that are used for single measurements, but these are often slower as it means the bartender needs to fill them up twice to serve a double shot.

Speed and efficiency are very important in bartending, so you’ll find most bartenders opting for double-sided jiggers to ensure they can serve guests as quickly as possible.

Do You Fill A Jigger All The Way?

Jiggers should always be filled all the way to the top to ensure that the correct amount of liquor is being used in the recipe.

Make sure when filling your jigger that you’re holding it upright, this will ensure that measurements are accurate and reduce the risk of spillage.

Bartenders that do not fill jiggers up to the top run the risk of serving a drink that is too weak and does not meet the standard of the cocktail.

how to use a jigger correctly
Photo by Daniel Andraski

Similarly, overpouring can leave the finished drink too strong for the customer, which may result in them asking for a re-make or refund.

It’s always best practice to fill the jigger to the top which ensures the correct amount of alcohol has been used in making the drink.

Are Jiggers Necessary?

If you want to serve accurate, consistent, and professional drinks then using a jigger to measure liquids is very necessary, especially if you’re a beginner.

The main benefit of using a jigger is consistency, but with experience, some bartenders decide to ditch the jigger altogether and opt for a different method.

Free pouring is when bartenders don’t use any measuring tool and will instead count in their heads while pouring to reach the desired amount.

They do this by using a pourer that pours out the same amount of liquid from the bottle no matter the angle of the bottle, helping to regulate the flow of liquid being released.

For example, the bartender may count for around 3 seconds to reach a double shot, but while this does help with the speed of serving drinks, it is far less accurate over a prolonged period.

Over the course of the night, bartenders will use much more liquor-free pouring than they would if they were to measure every drink.

But sometimes this just isn’t practical, especially when in periods when the bar becomes incredibly busy, perhaps on a Saturday night.

The Different Types Of Jiggers

Classic double jigger

One of the most common types of jigger you’ll find in bars and some setups are the classic double jigger.

This is a jigger that has two sides that measure different amounts, usually 1 ounce and 2 ounces or 0.75 ounces and 1.5 ounces.

It’s a budget-friendly, easily accessible jigger that does exactly what it says on the tin.

OXO SteeL Double Jigger

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Stepped jigger

The stepped jigger is the perfect starting point for beginners that require one tool to measure multiple amounts of liquid.

They’re not the most aesthetically pleasing but they fit right into any home bar setup and allow you to get to grips with using a jigger.

Stepped jiggers have most of the common measurements labeled on the outside so that you can easily see how far to fill the jigger.

Barfly M37108 Drink Jigger, 2 oz, Stainless w/Handle

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Japanese jigger

The Japanese jigger is the most aesthetic in my opinion and looks amazing in all bar settings.

It’s more angular than the classic double jigger and is thinner with more height.

They’re often made from stainless steel which makes them less resistant to rust and more durable in busy bar settings.

These jiggers also offer a few different measurements on the inside of the rim, ensuring you can’t go wrong so long as you stick to those guidelines.

While this jigger requires a little more effort to avoid spillages, it makes up for this with its elegant design.

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Bell jigger

If you’re looking for a jigger that is both aesthetically pleasing and has less chance of spillage then the bell jigger will be the one for you.

Bell jiggers have rounded curves and a narrow midsection that makes them easy to pour from and hold.

The large base makes them stand up easily on bars which can look great in home bar setups.

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Final Thoughts

Jiggers are an important bar tool for those looking to accurately and consistently measure liquids to aid in the cocktail creation process.

They are very easy to use and allow the bartender to accurately but quickly serve customers without making their drinks too strong.

Whilst some bartenders avoid using jiggers for quickness, it’s recommended that new bartenders don’t and instead stick to using this tool, especially when making cocktails.

I hope this guide has given you more confidence in how to use a jigger and the next time you find yourself making cocktails you’re confident in using this bar tool.

As with all bar tools, practice makes perfect, and with each time you’ll master the jigger and be able to create the perfect cocktail each and every time!

See you in the next one.

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