Consistency is key to making great drinks, bartenders say. That means having a tool that measures liquids precisely and reliably. And so, like shakers and strainers, jiggers are an important piece of gear in the cocktail-making arsenal.
In addition to its utilitarian applications, “a jigger is a wonderful tool because it’s the key to unlocking creation [of drinks],” says Chockie Tom, a London-based bartender and founder of Doommersive, which runs tropical-themed cocktail pop-ups. “It’s a friend, a comfort for competitions and busy nights.” As a symbol of devotion, Tom even has a jigger tattoo.
What Is a Bar Jigger?
Basically, a jigger is a tool used to measure spirits, syrups and other liquid ingredients. A single jigger has one bowl; a double jigger has a bowl on each side, resembling an hourglass. The bowls often are sized to match the most called-for amounts in drink recipes (half an ounce, one ounce, two ounces) or may have markings to indicate those standard measurements.
While the classic jigger,with its wide V-shape, never goes out of style, many bartenders prefer the sleek, angular lines of slim Japanese-style jiggers, while others gravitate toward the retro curves of bell jiggers. Others, particularly bartenders outside of the U.S., opt for small measuring cup-like styles.
A stepped jigger, typically a single-bowl style with measurements marked on the outside or inside, is another option.
One particularly polarizing style is the long-handled jigger. A popular accessory in home bartender kits, most bartenders said the style is not useful in a professional environment. The one exception? It can be helpful for measuring hot liquids to avoid burning fingers.
Here are the eight best jiggers for your home bar, according to bartenders.
1. A Bar Above Japanese Jigger
Some bartenders prefer to keep two jiggers handy to measure various amounts. But this efficient model has extra markings every quarter of an ounce, enabling measurements as large as two ounces all the way down to a bar spoon.
It’s a boon “for anyone who doesn’t want to use two jiggers,” says Terra James-Jura server/bartender at Detroit’s Chartreuse bar, “or (more likely) keep somehow losing the danged smaller jigger.”
2. Heavyweight Koriko Jigger
This durable Japanese-style jigger is crafted from a single piece of steel and is available plated in copper or gold.
“[It] almost feels like extensions of my fingers—fluid in flow, clean in pour,” says Cindy Cafferty, bartender at Long Beach, California’s The Chestnut Club. Because the jigger is weighted, it feels stable, she says, and the narrow shape enables swift and accurate measurement.
3. Leopold Bell Jigger
For those who favor the rounded bell design, the ergonomically friendly Leopold jigger is the reigning favorite. “I find them to have just the right sturdiness and weight, so they feel good and well-balanced in your hand,” says Katie Schanz, bartender at Suenos at Soho House in Chicago. “Plus, the vintage aesthetic is a nice bonus.”
4. Mercer Bar Measuring Cup
With measurements embossed to show ounces, milliliters and tablespoons, a footed base for greater stability and a tapered shape, this single-bowl stepped jigger is Tom’s pick.
“I need multiple measurements for different markets,” she explains. While she also likes Japanese jiggers, “this style is easier for travel and more grip friendly.”
5. Mezclar Precisco Multi Measure Jigger
For those who prefer to measure in milliliters rather than ounces, this stainless-steel jigger has markings in five- and 10-milliliter increments, with 25- or 50-milliliter capacities on each side.
A contrasting copper band in the middle adds visual interest. It’s a “dream,” says Alexander Taylor, owner of Cardiff, Wales bar Pennyroyal, who swears he “will never use another jigger.”
6. OXO Steel Angled Measuring Jigger
Shawn Soole, bar manager at Clive’s Classic Lounge in Victoria, Canada, prefers this stainless-steel model with a spout. “They have all the necessary measurements,” says Soole, and the not-too-narrow build means “you can do long pours into them, so it can still look classy.”
As a bonus, “I can throw them through the high-temp dishwasher, and they are sanitized at the end of the night,” he says.
7. Piña Slim Jigger
This slender Japanese-style jigger is a clear pro-choice, for its measuring accuracy (thanks to clear markings on the interior of each bowl) and its sheer durability.
They are “my forever go-to,” says Chicago bartender Amy Probasco. “The slim design makes them really comfortable to use, and it’s one piece, making it less likely to break in two.”
Without welds and weak points, adds Somerville, Massachusetts bartender Nicholas Lappen, “it’s basically impossible to damage.” Many pros also recommended Piña’s bell jigger model.
Instead of eyeballing small amounts like one-quarter or three-quarters of an ounce, this triangular jigger divides one bowl into smaller reservoirs.
“The split nature allowing for various pours is a wonderfully useful feature,” says Andrew Guerin, bar supervisor at Bourbon O Bar in New Orleans, Louisiana. Plus, the curved design offers “a great feel for all hand sizes.”