Have you ever tried hand-pouring equal measures of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth at home, during a busy party? Not easy in the most serene of circumstances.
The jigger is the tool used for measuring the exact amounts of spirit needed in any cocktails, think the teaspoon and tablespoon of the cocktail world. Of course, who am I to tell you not to free pour, but most likely you will end up wasting a lot of the spirit you love and end up creating a, something kind of like, the cocktail you were going for.
Why is it called a jigger
I always head straight to former Lush Lifer, David Wondrich, cocktail historian extraordinaire, first when looking to answer any cocktail related query. He links it to the word “thingamajig” which refers to something you don’t know the word for.
There are others who claim it is a shorter version of the word “jiggermast,“ the smallest mast on a sail boat or what the 18th and 19th C British sailor called his daily ration of gin or rum. Yes, they were paid in spirits, which not surprisingly raised moral.
A sadly forgotten, but fabulously named, Cornelius Dungan patented the double-ended jigger we use now in 1893 in Chicago, one of my favorite drinking towns. It’s been called a jigger ever since.
How big are jiggers?
Depending on where you live in the world, jiggers vary in sizes. In the USA, they typically measure 1 ounce on one side and ½ oz on the other. Some are 1 once and then 2 ounces. You can also find ones that are larger.
In the UK, they are 50ml on one side and 25ml the other. Most cocktails call for 1 oz or 50/60 ml of base spirit, so those measurements should do you fine.
How to use a jigger
If your recipe calls for 30ml and you have a 25ml jigger, then you just have to guess or use a jigger like the OXO one that has every measurement printed on it from 10 – 60 ml, making it one of my favorites and one of the easiest to use.
Which jigger should I choose?
Now the fun part, there are lots and lots of different styles of jiggers to choose from, so I can only guide you to the ones I love.
The one I keep talking about! If you don’t want to guess any ml or teaspoon, then this is OXO Steel Angled Measuring Jigger. It looks good and does the job! Another great jigger from OXO, plus it comes with a strainer! This one has the added bonus of having a non-slip grip in the middle for tighter hold. Also it comes with marks inside for almost all the ounce measures you need!
Japanese Style Jiggers
Not sure why these are called Japanese, but they are the sleekest in my opinion and I love this style. I love all of these so much!
Piña makes really great looking jiggers and I love their Bell one the best! It’s super smooth and fun to slip between your fingers. The Gunmetal black one is pretty chic as well.
Other chic designs
Here are a few different and fun jiggers that are not standard, but are really cool.