Are You Giving Away The Bar by Using Jiggers?

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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.


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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.



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Have you tested out your jiggers? Do you have a favorite that you use behind your bar? Leave us a comment with your results.

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Filed Under: Bar Basics, Better Bartending, Product Reviews, Video Blog

About the Author:

Chris Tunstall

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

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  • Bruce Harlick

    Chris, was the Cocktail Kingdom jigger you tested one of their Japanese Style jiggers?

    • Chris at A Bar Above

      Yeah it was the 2 oz jigger they sell. It’s a beautiful piece of equipment

  • Ducktails Bartending

    I used to check for consistency between my jigger, if two half ounces would measure a whole once and things like that. Thats an easy way to check for proportions consistency only, though. The scale method is very good! Great video, it really can be a leak of money on those jiggers.

    • chris

      Yeah, for the most part the jiggers were only off by about 10%, but there were a few that were considerably off their mark.

    • Chris at A Bar Above

      Thanks Thiago,

      I was very shocked to see that the promotional jigger was off by 50%. That will cut into your margins real quick

  • Frederic Yarm

    Can you rope in some self-professed free pouring gurus to see how well they can do against a jigger?

    • Chris at A Bar Above

      I like this idea Frederic. Going to give you credit on this one if it works out 🙂

      • Justin Jones

        I’d love to see this kind of test repeated for different brands of pour spouts. The high volume bar I used to work at pour tested the bartenders weekly on their free pours. We had to nail 40 out of 45 pours; 20 right hand 20 left hand and 5 margarita pours. The test bottles had SS 285-50 but the rest of the bar was a total grab bag of pour spouts. The lack of consistency drove me up the wall. Anyway I really enjoy your blog and have listened to every podcast Keep up the good work.

  • Josh Miller

    I for one am happy to see the OXO jigger is under on the 1/4 oz mark because I always seem to go over on that puny pour 🙂

    • Chris at A Bar Above

      Agreed Josh, it’s almost impossible to make an accurate 1/4 oz pour on those jiggers, especially in a dark bar

      • I have had the most success in pouring an accurate 1/4 oz. for years by free pouring it. If you are using a spill stopper 285-50 and are aggressively getting your bottles to 1 o’clock (right hand) or 11 o’clock (left hand) you will get a bubble, the pour spout is designed to put out an exact quarter ounce when you get that “bubble” . After you get that first quarter ounce the flow stops and starts again.

        • Ryan Castleberry

          Lol and I’m assuming you measured this?

  • Terry Via

    Chris, awesome video. Honestly never even came to mind that there could be a chance a “measuring device” could be inaccurate. Consistency is key. I love the Japanese style 2oz/1oz jiggers also the .75/.5 from cocktail kingdom. Just love the whole look and style of them and it’s a bonus to know they were the most accurate. Trying to convince the wife to get me the gold plated ones for Christmas :-p Beautiful but unnecessary lol. Also what your doing for the beverage community is amazing. Can’t thank you anymore for all your knowledge and inspiration. I’ve become a more confident bartender/liquor enthusiast since I’ve came across your website. Also I’m gonna be signing up for your cocktail design course shortly here. Wifey have me green light but only after finish my master brewing course I found on groupon lol

    • Chris at A Bar Above

      Great to hear Terry, and I hope you get those gold plated jiggers for Christmas 🙂 I’d love to hear about how your beer class goes when you’re done with it.

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