Jiggers & Measurement Tools
A Jigger is a bartending tool that is used for measuring specific amounts of alcohol. If you read older cocktail recipe books they will indicate a “jigger” of rum, vodka, whiskey, etc. A Jigger is generally 1.5 ounces or 45ml. Today, jiggers are double sided and come in all shapes and sizes and increments. My favorite are the ones that come in 1 ounce (30ml) and .5 ounce increments. A standard cocktail should contain at least 1.5 ounces or 45ml of hard liquor. If you are in Ireland or Scotland a “dram” would be about the same. If you look at cocktail books from a century ago, they will call it a gil. You get the idea.
Today in a craft cocktail era, measurements are very important, because if you are off even by 5ml (a teaspoon), it can throw the taste of the cocktail off. Real nerds will use the Pyrex measuring glass with a spout to insure easy pouring. Some mixologists behind a busy bar prefer the Japanese style jigger which is really tall to the point where you can guess by eye each milliliter. But when it comes to measuring, I really like the standard glass model you can find in nearly any store that sells kitchen items. It has measurements in ounces, milliliters, teaspoons and tablespoons all the way around the glass, and holds up to 5 ounces and/or 150ml. The only way they can make this better is if it had a spout like on the Pyrex version.
When choosing a measuring tool you should consider how easy it is to read the increment levels, the handling and the pouring. You might need more than one, in fact I have several. But in the end, whether you are mixing at home or in a professional setting, it needs to be consistent, especially when it comes to taste. If a cocktail is too strong or too weak or even if it does not come up to the rim of a glass because you did not use the right amount of ingredients is very important.
Unless you are a professional bartender who has served hundreds or thousands of drinks to just as many people, don’t think you are skilled enough pour by eye. You will even appear to be a bit more skilled and professional if you do use a jigger. However, please do not spend more than $10-15 on a measuring tool. You can even get them as little as $3, but unless you are on TV and/or looking to impress someone, please don’t use a gold plated jigger. It makes no sense and adds nothing to the experience. Just trust a good old stainless steel or glass jigger or measuring glass. If its copper plated and you like it, sure, but again, don’t spend more than $15 for it unless its an antique, and even then, put it on a shelf, but don’t make it your everyday tool.
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