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Testing Jiggers

By Miye Bromberg Published

To find the best tool for measuring spirits for cocktails, we had to rejigger our expectations.

A jigger is a handy bar tool used to measure small volumes of liquids for cocktails. Conventional jiggers are roughly hourglass-shaped, with one end designed to measure a larger volume (most commonly 1.5 or 2 ounces) and the other to measure a slightly smaller one (usually 1 ounce). But in recent years, several innovative new jiggers and small-volume measuring tools have appeared on the market. We wanted to know which jigger was best for the home bartender, so we bought eight models of different styles, priced from about $5 to about $20, and put them through their paces.

Marking Woes

First, we evaluated how easy it was to measure liquid volumes. All the jiggers were accurate at each of the volumes marked. The trouble was finding and interpreting the markings. One jigger didn’t have volume lines at all; it just indicated on the exterior that one end held 2 ounces of liquid and the other held 1 ounce. While the size and balance of your drink won’t be significantly affected if you have to estimate 1/2 ounce, most of our testers preferred models with measurement lines that let them know the correct volumes.

Another model had measurement lines but no numbers inscribed next to them. Still others had numbers that were hard to read because they’d been etched into or molded out of the material used to make the jigger. We preferred models that had plenty of bold, clearly labeled volume lines and numbers—but not so many that they became busy and distracting. The side of one small measuring glass was crowded with tablespoon, teaspoon, cup, and milliliter measurements.

We also preferred models with measurement lines on their interiors, which allowed us to see from above whether we’d filled to the right level; a few transparent models had measurement lines and numbers on their exteriors, forcing us to squat down to make sure we’d gotten the correct volume. While we don’t mind doing this for accurate measuring when cooking or baking, it was awkward to do repeatedly while making cocktails.

Wider Mouths Are Easier to Fill

Next, we considered how easy the jiggers were to fill. Openings with a diameter of 1.6 inches or less made for small targets, requiring us to aim and pour very carefully. One innovative jigger was divided into separate compartments, each holding a different volume. While this seemed like a smart concept, it was tricky to fill these subsections, some as little as 0.8 inches in diameter, even when we’d fitted a bottle with a pourer so that we could dispense its liquid more precisely. In general, jiggers with mouths at least 2 inches wide were easiest to fill.

Double-Ended Jiggers Are Messy

Finally, we looked at how neatly we could empty the jiggers. Conventional double-ended jiggers were at a disadvantage here: If you have to use both ends of a jigger to measure different volumes for a drink, the end you use and empty first will drip liquid as soon as you flip the jigger. This may seem like a minor point, but most testers preferred measuring tools that had just one opening, because these kept their hands and counters drier and less sticky.

Our Winning Jigger: The OXO Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup, Clear

Our winner isn’t a jigger at all but rather a small measuring cup. The OXO Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup, Clear, is essentially a tiny plastic beaker with a single large mouth that is easy and neat to pour into and out of. Testers loved its bold, highly legible red volume lines and numbers, which made it simple to pour correct volumes from above. If you want a more traditional-looking jigger, we think the OXO SteeL Double Jigger is your best bet. Because it’s double-ended, it’s a little messier to use than our winner, but with plenty of clearly labeled (if slightly faint) volume lines, it’s otherwise simple to use, and testers particularly appreciated the rubbery band around its middle, which made it easy to grip even when wet.

Equipment Review Jiggers

To find the best tool for measuring spirits for cocktails, we had to rejigger our expectations.