Once upon a time (actually even now in some bars) you would be ridiculed for using 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 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.)

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 measure 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. for avoirdupois oz) on a scale, and different liquids will weigh different amounts given the same volume. 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 our jiggers is that 1 fl. oz. of water weighs 1.043 oz. on a scale. 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 will be testing out 4 different jiggers for this post, and 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 miniscus, 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 right now and with good reason. The tall, slender shape of the jigger makes it easy to make accurate measures and not have to worry about loosing 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 measure
  • 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 miniscus is a perfect pour for this jigger.

Jigger #2 – OXO

  •  .25 fl. oz. – this is the lowest measure on this jigger and by 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. 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.

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. Only 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%
  • 1.00 fl. oz. – filling 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.

Jigger #4 – Random jigger that should be a .50 oz and a 1.5 oz measure.

  • .50 fl. oz. – the actual measure turned out to be .75 av. oz. only 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 I the Cocktail Kingdom jigger did an amazing job with the least amount of variance across all of it’s 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.
Have you tested out your jiggers? Do you have a favorite that you use behind your bar? Leave us a comment with your results.

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.