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A jigger, also called a bar measure, is essential for the preparation of delicious cocktail recipes. Without a jigger, the preparation of these cocktails is almost impossible. But what is a jigger, how do you use it and why is it so important in the preparation of cocktail recipes? We would like to answer all these questions on this page. Have fun reading and discovering!

What makes a jigger special

Simply put, a jigger is a measuring cup for measuring cocktail ingredients. This bar measure usually has two different sides, with different filling volumes. The larger side is usually called a “jigger” and in most cases has a filling volume of exactly four centilitres (4 cl). The other, smaller side is called a pony and usually has a filling volume of two centilitres (2 cl).

How to use a bar measure

This bar measure is especially important if you want to prepare cocktails of any kind. It ensures that you use the right amount of ingredients, so that a cocktail contains neither too much nor too little of a particular ingredient. You can measure out spirits such as gin, whisky, tequila, rum or vodka, but also fruit juices such as lime juice or lemon juice with the help of a jigger.

If a drink is simply prepared “by eye”, it can quickly happen that a cocktail tastes too strong, too sour, too tart or too sweet. Especially when preparing cocktails such as the Whisky Sour or the Tom Collins, where the balance of sweet and sour is particularly important, it is essential to use a bar measure. This is exactly what a jigger can help you with.


Different shapes

A jigger can simply be seen as a measuring cup, with two different filling volumes on each side. They are usually cone-shaped or rounded, but square versions also exist. In most cases, the larger side has a filling volume of 4 cl, the small side a filling volume of 2 cl. However, there are also variants where the larger side has a filling volume of 6 cl and the smaller 3 cl.

The main difference between different jigger variants is the so-called Japanese and American style. The American style is defined by a rather flat, cylindrical shape and is the most commonly used variant of a bar measure. In contrast, the Japanese style is defined by an elongated, conical shape. The filling quantities of the American and Japanese styles are exactly the same.

Perfect for measuring

For the optimal preparation of almost every cocktail and mocktail, you need a jigger. This ensures that you do not put too much or too little of a spirit into the glass. Thus, even the simplest drinks can be rendered undrinkable by an incorrect dosage. Every passionate bartender even has several bar measures at home (or in his bar) to always measure out the right amount. Besides the classic 4 cl and 2 cl jigger, there are also variants with 1 cl and 3 cl. This means you can always measure out the right amount even with odd quantities of ingredients.

Various cocktail variations

You need a jigger for every cocktail. It doesn’t matter whether you are making a Dry Martini, a Gin Fizz, Mimosa, Bellini, Cuba Libre or a Planter’s Punch. The high-class taste of all these cocktails comes from the interaction of the right ingredients in the right quantity.

Have you ever tried to prepare a Margarita, a Tequila Sunrise or a Long Island Iced Tea without a jigger? It’s almost impossible! Even super simple cocktails like the Cosmopolitan or the Moscow Mule should be prepared with the help of a measuring cup or bar measure.

cuba libre

The history of jiggers

The term is said to have been first mentioned in the 19th century in the increasingly popular bar culture. In the United States of America at that time, a bar measure of 44 ml (i.e. approx. 2 ounces) was called a jigger. The Americans were the first to realise that cocktails made with the wrong or badly measured ingredients could be undrinkable. For this reason, the bar measure was introduced. Unfortunately, it is not known exactly who invented this measure.

In the book “The Bartender’s Manual” by Harry Johnson from 1882, there are the first attempts to explain how to use a jigger. Some of the small metal or copper-like measuring devices were not calibrated, so that measuring errors could occur. Over time, however, jiggers became more precise and accurate, so that today, even if you buy a cheap bar measure, you can be sure that you are not pouring too much gin into your Negroni.

Jigging vs. free pouring

In some German bars, the term “jiggern” is even used, meaning something like “to measure out with a bar measure”. In contrast to this is the so-called “freepouring”. Here, the liquid is not measured with a bar measure. Rather, when pouring, it is counted how long the liquid runs into the glass. On this basis, it is determined how much liquid is actually already in the glass.

The correct use

Take the measuring cup in your left hand and hold it between your middle and index fingers. The palm of your hand points upwards. Take a bottle (e.g. a bottle of gin if you want to prepare a gin cocktail) in your right hand and slowly and carefully pour the liquid into the jigger. Now you can pour the contents of the jigger into a cocktail shaker or a mixing glass. After a few times, you will get the hang of it and will be able to fill the jigger much faster. Now nothing stands in the way of your hobby bartending career.

Jigger FAQ

What is a jigger?

Simply put, a jigger is a measuring cup that can be used to measure out the ingredients for a cocktail or mocktail. A jigger ensures that you always use the right amount of ingredients.

Which cocktails can be prepared with a jigger?

All of them! Quite simply. All cocktails can, or should, be prepared with the help of a jigger. This always ensures that you use the right amount and that the drink tastes good as a result. Sometimes the smallest differences in quantity ruin the pleasantly harmonious flavour profile of a cocktail and make it taste unnatural.

What do you need it for?

The jigger is used to measure out the ingredients before mixing them with other ingredients. This ensures that you always use the right amount, allowing the cocktail to score in all its flavour.

Where do you buy the bar measure?

Jiggers are most commonly bought online and delivered to your door. Online you have a wide choice and can compare prices. Also, you can usually return products easily if you don’t like them.