How to use Jiggers for Cocktails (& 14 Other Creative Uses)

Jiggers are hourglass shaped steel measuring devices that are super common in professional bars but also for regular folks who like to make their own cocktails at home.

While straightforward, there are a few subtleties to using jiggers that can really help when it comes to making the perfect cocktail, or correctly making an at-home version of a cocktail you had at a bar:

  1. Understand the Measurements: Most jiggers are double-sided, with each end providing a different measurement. Commonly, one side measures 1.5 ounces (a standard shot in the U.S.) and the smaller side measures ¾ of an ounce. For some jiggers however, the small side is 1 ounce, instead of 3/4. An easy way to measure this is to use standard plastic bottle caps. Thus, the 1.5 ounce jigger should fill 5 bottle caps, the ¾ jigger should fill 2.5, while a 1 ounce jigger should fill a bit over 3 bottle caps.
  2. Fill to the Brim for Full Measures: In most cases, to get the full measure that your jigger is intended for, fill it right up to the brim. Make sure you’re holding it level to get an accurate pour.
  3. Heaping vs shy measurements: Some recipes might ask for a “heaping” measurement, meaning the liquid should be slightly over the brim. Conversely, a “shy” measurement means slightly less than full.
  4. Use a Steady Hand: Pour your ingredients steadily and slowly into the jigger to prevent spillage, especially when you’re aiming for a full measure.
  5. Avoiding Spills: When your jigger is full, take care when transferring the liquid to your cocktail shaker or glass. It can be easy to spill if you’re not careful. Some people prefer to hold the jigger over their shaker or glass when filling it, so any spills go into the mix.
  6. Use for All Liquids: For consistency, measure all your liquid ingredients with the jigger, not just the alcohol. This includes juices, syrups, cream, etc.
  7. Practice Fractional Measurements: If your cocktail calls for a half measure, it’s often easiest to fill your jigger to the halfway point. This might take some practice to get right, but it’s a useful skill. Again, using bottle caps to figure out the measures of your jigger can help.
  8. Cleaning: Always rinse your jigger between ingredients to avoid mixing flavors unintentionally, and give it a thorough clean after each cocktail-making session.

14 other useful ways to use jiggers

So jiggers are primarily used for cocktails, but as it so happens they can be used in lots of other interesting and useful ways you’ve probably never thought about:

  1. Condiment Server: Use a jigger to serve small amounts of condiments or sauces at a dinner party or BBQ.
  2. Egg Separator: When making dishes that require only egg yolks or whites, you can crack the egg into the larger side of the jigger and let the egg white drip out, keeping the yolk contained.
  3. Spice Holder: If you’re cooking a recipe that requires a variety of spices, you can pre-measure them into the jigger for quick addition when needed.
  4. Crafting Tools Holder: When doing small crafts, you could use a jigger to hold things like needles, hooks, or tiny knitting tools.
  5. Egg Cup: In a pinch, a cocktail jigger could serve as an egg cup for a soft or hard boiled egg.
  6. Ice Cream Scoop: If you want a small amount of ice cream, a jigger could be a fun way to serve it.
  7. Tea Blending: For tea enthusiasts, a jigger could be useful to measure out liquid flavorings when creating your own tea blends.
  8. Miniature Potted Plant Display: You could use it to hold small succulents or air plants for a unique display.
  9. Crafting Tools Holder: When doing small crafts, you could use a jigger to hold things like needles, hooks, or tiny knitting tools.
  10. Jewelry Holder: Use a jigger to hold small pieces of jewelry like rings or earrings.
  11. Tealight Candle Holder: A jigger could hold a tealight candle for a unique table centerpiece or a small decorative light source.
  12. Desk Organizer: A jigger could hold small desk items like paperclips, thumbtacks, or small stationery.
  13. Toothpick Holder: A jigger is just the right size for holding a number of toothpicks.
  14. Bird Feeder: Fill a jigger with birdseed and hang it outside as a mini bird feeder. You would however have to modify the jigger so it would remain fixed to a surface.