We’ve been sharing our recipes, reviews, and bar and party tips for a month now and haven’t yet mentioned an essential cocktail tool: the jigger, a tiny measuring cup for bar use. We hope our posts are inspiring you to do some cocktail mixing, and mixing means measuring. In measuring all of these fairly small, fairly precise amounts, the jigger is your friend; and as in all areas of your life, it’s important to choose your friends well.
The traditional jigger, the one you’ll get in most every starter kit of bar accessories, is a two-sided, stainless steel one with a handle. I’m usually a big fan of tradition. Cocktail mixing isn’t just about the drinks, but about participating in the rituals and the conventions. And in that regard, the traditional jigger seems right; you just feel like an honest-to-goodness bartender when you have one in your hands. It’s too bad, then, that the traditional jigger is just so bad at its job.
First of all, it’s horribly imbalanced. There may come a time when you want to set your jigger down on the bar, maybe even with liquid in it. I’m sorry, but that’s just not possible with the traditional jigger; the thing doesn’t really stand, particularly when there’s liquid in it. Even when you don’t set it down, it’s trickier to pour from it than you’d hope. With no lip, and with that other side still making it a bit unsteady, I found myself always afraid of dribbling or spilling. Most often, I’d quickly dump my liquid into the mixer in something of a panic. That’s no way to start a cocktail. A relaxing drink should start with a calm mix.
Not being terribly good at holding or pouring liquid is a pretty big mark against a tool that is in large part supposed to do just those things. On top of that, the traditional jigger isn’t entirely convenient for measuring either. Typically, one side of the jigger is 1 1/2 oz, and the other is 1 oz. Unfortunately, I just as often want to measure 2 oz, requiring two panicked dumps, or 1/2 oz, for which the traditional jigger is not much help at all.
When I finally asdmitted to myself that the traditional jigger was actually getting in the way of my enjoyment of my cocktails, I first moved to a smaller, handle-less two-sided jigger–not quite as traditional, but perhaps a bit easier to use. At least I could set it on the bar without fear of spilling, and the 1 oz and 1/2 oz sides gave me the measurements I needed for most of my cocktails. But still, what about 1/4 oz? And I was still doing more measuring and pouring than really seemed necessary. And furthermore, still without the lip, I was still doing more sloshing of my precious liquids than I’d really want.
At Roberts and June, we’re in it for the enjoyment and for the long haul. We think the easier a cocktail is to make, the more we’re likely to keep doing it, and keep enjoying it. And for that, let me introduce you to the thoroughly non-traditional but eminently user-friendly OXO Steel Angled Measuring Jigger. With it’s easy-pour lip, it’s 2 oz volume, and it’s easy to read markings from 1/4 oz to 2 oz, it’s the perfect tool for measuring and pouring a single cocktail. With it, you may not feel as genuine, but I guarantee you’ll make more cocktails.
Speaking of making more cocktails, if you find yourself making more than one at a time, may I suggest a 5 oz beaker style glass measuring cup? There’s no lip, but it’s still pretty easy to pour, and it has the volume and the markings you need to fairly effortlessly put together anything from a couple to a handful of drinks at a time. If you are making a handful, you’ll need a large volume mixing glass too; but we’ll talk about those some other time.
Now that I’ve found the OXO slant jigger and the beaker style measuring cup, my traditional jigger stays way in back in my cocktail tools drawer, only to be brought out when my other jiggers are dirty and I’m too lazy to wash them (immediately making me regret that laziness).
Cheers to cocktail traditions, and to unsentimentally abandoning them when they get in the way of a good cocktail!