First Bar Tool Purchases – Jigger

I covered shakers in my first of this series of posts on stocking the tools for a home bar. The next tool is a jigger.

2. Jigger

You’ve probably seen bartenders work without measuring tools. They use pouring spouts to control the flow, flip the bottle over the cup and count to themselves to determine how much they’ve poured. I suppose that could be accurate with hundreds of hours of practice but it’s not a goal of mine to learn. Apparently it’s fast, but not so accurate. I don’t intend to work in a bar, so speed is not an issue that I need solved by this method. I’ve also seen some bartenders eyeball their pours like this guy:

I’m guessing he has memorized how much liquid matched the etchings on the mixing glass.

What is a jigger? Jiggers are tools meant for accurately measuring ingredients in a drink. Until I can do it by eye or counting, which will probably be never, I’ll be measuring with a jigger.

As with my shaker, I couldn’t wait so I picked up my first little jigger at BevMo. Strangely, they only had the one when I was in the store. (Again with the not-so-well-stocked tool selection at a liquor store.)

This is the jigger I bought:

Epic Double Jigger

Epic Double Jigger (BevMo link)

When I opened it, I was struck by how cheap it felt. Super light and thin metal, two cups somehow stuck together by glue or a spot weld. They were even a little off kilter. But who cares, right? It’s just a little thing to measure liquid. But when you think about it, you’ll be holding a jigger as much as anything else when making drinks, so it should feel right. This one didn’t inspire confidence.

My inexperience was the next obstacle. I didn’t know how much this jigger measured! It didn’t say on the package and there are no markings on the jigger, inside or out. So I filled it with water and poured the contents into a tiny measuring cup. It held 3/4 oz. in the small side and 1 3/4 oz. in the big side. I’m no expert, but these seem like pretty lame measurements. Most of the recipes I see call for 1oz. or 2 oz. pours, standard. How the hell am I supposed to do that with this? It makes no sense to me. It reminds me of those math puzzles from my childhood. Two pours from one side gets 1 1/2 oz., two from the other yields 3 1/2 oz., and one from each side makes 2 1/2 oz. Getting a 1/2 oz. or 1/4 oz. measurement from this is akin to untying the Gordian Knot. If someone has the logic to make this useful, I’d love to hear it.

My first martini should have been a triumph. The martini itself was fine but making it was a pain in the ass thanks to that flimsy, unmarked and unconventionally sized jigger. In truth, I resorted to measuring with that tiny measuring cup, which is apparently the go to jigger for many people. Here it is in case you’re interested. The OXO Mini Measuring Cup:

OXO Mini Measuring Cup

OXO Mini Measuring Cup (Amazon link)

I decided to immediately find a replacement for my first jigger and to limit my choices to something that looked more traditional, plus I didn’t want to appropriate my wife’s kitchen tools until I really needed to. That would put a quick damper on her support of my new potentially expensive hobby.

After watching a bunch of bartending videos on Youtube, I noticed a particular jigger kept popping up. (These guys hardly ever tell you what they are using, which is part of why I’m blogging my findings.) After a quick Google image search I saw that it is the OXO SteeL Double Jigger.

OXO Steel Double Jigger

OXO Steel Double Jigger (Amazon link)

I ordered it on Amazon. Amazon Prime is one of the best things ever. I don’t even care how much it costs per year because I can get anything I want in two days!

The OXO could hardly arrive soon enough because I wanted to make a few more drinks. No matter how many times I used that damned first jigger, I could NEVER remember what it measured. Every time I had to measure out some water only to be reminded of what an asinine size it was. I was tempted to write on it with a Sharpie but I knew its days were numbered — two to be exact.

The OXO arrived and it is a thing of beauty. Solid. Weighty. An ergonomic rubber grip befitting the Good Grips brand. And best of all for me, it has measurements printed inside the cups! Not only are the volumes convenient measurements of 1 and 1 1/2 oz. but they have sub-markings of 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, and 3/4 oz. too! All in one tool. This thing covers it all. I like it so much, I’m tempted to buy another just to have TWO. But THAT would feel redundant because one is so perfect! Besides, a man can only measure one pour at a time.

The one jigger I might be looking for in the future is a large one for doing 2 oz. pours. Not that I need one because I just measure two of the 1 oz. pours, but it looks so resolute when I see someone fill up one of those big suckers and toss it all into the mix. Just look at this bad boy:

Jigger - 2 oz.

Jigger – 2 oz. (Amazon link)

As for technique, I’m still finding my way but in the future I’ll talk about different ways to pour with a jigger. I’m still in the mode of “just get it all in the glass and not on the counter.”

What’s your go to jigger? How many jiggers do you have and why? Share your experience in the comments below!

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