Once upon a time (actually, even now in some bars), you would be ridiculed for using cocktail jiggers behind a bar. There was a stigma that you were either being cheap with your booze or you were just learning how to tend bar.
The idea of creating a consistent drink was never even a consideration for why you would be using a jigger. Either way, using a jigger behind bars was never a good sign for a customer. There is a whole debate about whether to free pour or use a jigger behind the bar, but we will have to save that debate for a later post.
The perception of using jiggers has changed considerably over the last few years, and I would argue they are the most used bartending tools behind craft bars these days.
Weighing in on a Few of the Leading Jiggers on the Market
The Funny Thing About Ounces (oz. vs fl. oz.)
Today, we’re going to check jigger measurements to see how accurate the average jigger actually is. The think about free-pouring or using inaccurate cup markings is that it really throws off your drink recipes!
Note: We did this experiment way back in 2014, and at the time of publish, we weren’t making our own barware yet. Instead of taking down this article, we wanted to update it with our own, actual product.
Seriously, this experiment really affected the way we approached the style of jiggers, measurement markings, and capacity levels. Seeing countless jiggers fail the accuracy test just increased our desire to make the best double jigger ever!
OK, back to the experiment.
Ounces are a funny form of measurement and can be difficult to explain. First, ounces can be a measurement of mass– or how much something weighs. Remember that 28 oz. Porterhouse you tried to eat at that steak house?
The other use of ounces is as a measurement of volume, as in the 16 oz. beer that you drink right when you get off of work, or the 2 oz. shot of Fernet you had with it.
What’s even more confusing is that one ounce of liquid (fluid ounce or fl. oz.) is not equal to one ounce (dry ounce or av. oz., meaning avoirdupois oz) on a scale, and different liquids will weigh different amounts given the same volume.
I know, I know. I feel like I’m back in high school chemistry right now. The only conversion that we need to keep in mind when testing out the accuracy of common jiggers is that 1 fl. oz. of water weighs 1.043 oz. on a scale.
FYI, since my scale only goes down to the nearest 0.05 oz, I will be rounding to the nearest 0.05 oz.
Testing our Jiggers
We tested out 4 different jiggers for this post back in 2014, and now we’ve add our A Bar Above jiggers as well; even more importantly, we’ll show you how to test the accuracy of your own jiggers. Even if we tell you which of these jiggers is the most accurate for us, your jigger set can be made with a varying level of accuracy.
I am going to be testing them out under “working conditions,” which means that I won’t be measuring to form a meniscus; I will only fill to the pre-marked line to try to recreate “real life” conditions.
Jigger #1 – Cocktail Kingdom Jigger
This is one of the most popular jiggers in craft bars and, frankly, our biggest competitor, being one of the best-known names on the market.
The tall, slender shape of this conical, two-sided jigger makes it easy to make accurate measures and not have to worry about losing any of the contents over the edge of the jigger.
Sure it’s probably the most visually appealing jigger in our line up, but how does it “measure up?” Sorry for the bad joke, but you should be used to them by now.
- .50 fl. oz.: The line that is etched in the jigger is a perfect measure of the liquid.
- .75 fl. oz.: Once again, a perfect measurement.
- 1.00 fl. oz.: If you pour right to the edge, you have roughly .90 fl. oz. resulting in an under pour or around 10 %.
- 1.50 fl oz – With this jigger, the correct measure is actually well below the marked line. The reading at the pre-marked line equals 1.70 dry weight ounces, or roughly an over-pour of 10% (actual dry ounce weight should be 1.56 fl. oz.).
- 2.00 fl. oz.: Filling up the liquid right to the top, without a meniscus, is a perfect pour for this jigger.
Jigger #2 – OXO
- .25 fl. oz.: This is the lowest measure on this jigger, and filling it right to the line will result in a measure of .20 oz– or an under-pour of 20%.
- .50 fl. oz.: The reading at the line was .40 oz.– once again, a 20% under pour.
- 1.00 fl. oz.: The reading at the 1.00 mark is fairly accurate. It weighs in at 1.00 oz instead of the 1.05 ounce that should be expected. So that’s only a 5% under-pour, which is the closest measure so far with this jigger.
- 1.50 fl. oz.: The reading at this mark is very accurate. It measures in at 1.55 dry weight ounces, which is perfect for this mark.
- 2.00 fl. oz.: The reading at this mark is perfect. It measures 2.10 dry weight oz, which is as close to the “perfect measure” that I can test with my small scale.
Overall, this is a pretty darn accurate mini measuring cup for the larger capacity measurements. The lower capacity markings aren’t super accurate, although having markings from 0.25 ounces to 2 ounces is a cool idea and makes this one the most versatile of the non-A Bar Above jiggers. If only it was accurate all the way throughout!
Jigger #3 – “Conical Jiggers”
- .50 fl. oz.: Filling right up to the edge of the jigger results in a dry weight of .55 dry weight oz., which is a 10% over-pour.
- .75 fl. oz.: Filling right to the edge results in a reading of .65 dry weight oz., or an under-pour of roughly 20%. Big swing in accuracy between the first marking of this cone-shaped jigger and this measurement marking.
- 1.00 fl. oz.: Filling up right to the edge results in a reading of 1.15 av. oz., or an over-pour of 10%.
- 1.50 fl. oz.: Filling right to the edge resulted in a measure of 1.60 av. oz., which is very close to the 1.56 av. oz it should read.
Overall, this double-sided conical jigger is the least accurate. It also has a smaller capacity in terms of sizes of jiggers compared to the other two.
Jigger #4 – Random jigger that should be a .50 oz and a 1.5 oz measure.
This double-ended jigger only has two markings… And it failed on both counts!
- .50 fl. oz.: The actual measure turned out to be .75 av. oz.– a full 50% over!
- 1.5 fl. oz.: The actual measure came in at 1.35 av. oz, or an under-pour of roughly 10-15%.
As you can see, there is variance in each jigger, and I will say that the Cocktail Kingdom jigger did a pretty good job with the least amount of variance across all of its measures.
The biggest thing to look out for is using “promotional jiggers” in a bar program without testing them out for accuracy. With a 50% variance over what the measure should actually be, this will throw off the balance of the drink– and your profit margins.
Jigger #5: A Bar Above Bell Jigger
OK, now here is our 2023 update, starting with our very own bell jigger– It’s super pretty with its sleek design, but let’s see if it provides accurate amounts of liquid measurements. I’m using a different scale now that accurately measures liquid ounces, so the photos you see have more precise units of measurement than back in 2014.
So yes, there could be some variation in the previous scale; that’s certainly worth noting. But this scale I’m using now is extremely accurate, so you can get a true sense of exactly how precise the A Bar Above alcohol jiggers are.
- .25 fl. oz.: Right at the line, we got a reading of 0.26 ounces.
- .50 fl. oz.: And this reading was perfect at exactly 0.5 ounces right on the line.
- 0.75 fl. oz.: Right on the line, this one measures in at 0.72 ounces.
- 1.00 fl. oz., smaller side: All the way to the top without flowing over, our bell jigger is exactly 1 ounce.
- 1.00 fl. oz., larger side: This line measured as 1.08 oz.
- 1.25 fl. oz: At 1.24 oz, this line is pretty darn close to perfect.
- 1.50 fl. oz.: This measurement was right on the line and weighed in at exactly 1.5 ounces.
- 1.75 fl. oz: Measuring right at the bottom of the line, this marking measured out as 1.72 ounces.
- 2.00 fl. oz.: Filled all the way to the top, our older model bell jigger measured 2.10 ounces, about 10% over when filled all the way to the top without flowing over.
Jigger #6: A Bar Above Japanese Jigger
And to round out the experiment, I’m finishing with our stainless steel Japanese jigger.
While I’m obviously biased, the numbers speak for themselves; in terms of consistent accuracy, our A Bar Above bartender jigger is simply the most exact with liquid ingredients out of all the ones we’ve looked at. Worth noting that this one has markings from 0.25 up to 2 ounces like the OXO jigger (but with more precision), unlike most traditional jiggers.
And while I’m working with an older prototype, our current version of both styles of jiggers include a bar spoon measurement (1/8 ounce) and a 1.75 oz marking– not something you find on a standard jigger! In fact, none of the other jiggers we’ve looked at have that versatility.
- .25 fl. oz.: At 0.24 oz and just shy of the line, this pour is almost perfect.
- .50 fl. oz.: Although I went just slightly over the line, this one weighed in at exactly a 1/2 ounce. Right at the line is about 0.48 oz.
- 0.75 fl. oz: Measuring in at 0.74 oz, this one is again nearly exact.
- 1.00 fl. oz., smaller side: Measured it at 1.04 oz when filled up all the way to the brim. When I tried again and filled it up without flowing onto the brim, it was exactly. 1 ounce.
- 1.00 fl. oz, larger side: Weighing in at 1.02 oz, although it looks like I poured it just slightly above the line.
- 1.25 fl. oz: Again, looking like I went just over the line, this measurement weighed in at 1.26 oz.
- 1.50 fl. oz.: My first pour was 1.58 oz, which is over by about 8%, although I was a bit over the line yet again. When I tried again, the weight was 1.48 oz. Either way, the margins are pretty darn good.
- 2.00 fl. oz.: This one weighed in at 1.98 oz, stopping just before the top rim, a nearly perfect measurement.
So if you want the perfect balance of a touch of class and precise measuring amounts in your bartender kit, definitely grab our stainless steel Japanese style jigger. Notice that our measuring cups also have lines at every 1/4 ounce, making them the most versatile on the market and guaranteeing them to be your new favorite jigger.
Whether you’re a professional bartender or just like making perfect cocktail recipes at home, clearly the type of jigger you use matters!
So have you tested out your jiggers? Do you have a favorite that you use behind your bar? Leave us a comment with your results. And if you don’t have a jigger or just realized that your current one isn’t measuring up (quite literally), make sure to add ours to your bartending kit!