bartender using a jigger to measure tequila for a drink

Jigger vs. Shot (What’s The Difference & What Are They Used For?)

Spend some time reading drink recipes and you may hear the terms jigger and shot used interchangeably…leaving you confused about the difference between the two.

A jigger is a simple hourglass shaped, usually stainless steel, device for measuring the amount of alcohol you put in a drink. They can be found in various sizes, usually ranging from 0.5 oz. to 2 oz. When “jigger” is used alone to describe a measurement, it typically means 1.5 oz.

A shot is a more informal term that that means a small serving of straight alcohol or a strong mixture. It can mean a variety of measurements but the most common are 1.5 oz. Shot glasses also can be found in a variety of materials including glass, plastic, stainless steel, and ceramic to name a few. When using “shot” as a measurement, it can mean anything from 1-2 oz. depending who you ask. A “pony shot” usually means 1 oz.

So if you are stocking your bar, you need to consider whether your guests will be drinking a lot of straight alcohol or if you’ll be making a lot of mixed drinks. For the shot taking crowd, you want to make sure you have a number of shot glasses so everyone can partake. Shots tend to be ordered and drank in groups. If you plan on making many mixed drinks, think about getting a few different sized jiggers to make your mixing easier and more precise.

Is A Jigger The Same As A Shot?

Sometimes the terms can be used interchangeably. A 1.5 oz. jigger is no different then a 1.5 oz. shot once it ends up in the drink. Neither term has an absolute standard and when it comes to mixing and pouring drinks they can be used interchangeably. Jigger is more of a measurement tool and shot (or shot glass) is more of a serving glass.

The benefits to using a jigger when you are mixing drinks is that they are easy to grab quickly because of their hourglass shape and you don’t have to worry about dropping them like you do with a shot glass made of glass or ceramic. They also frequently have different sizes on each end so you can easily switch between a 1 oz. pour and a 1.5 oz. pour if the drink recipe calls for it.

Types Of Jiggers

Classic Jigger

The classic jigger is quite simple. It is two sided and typically one side measures 1.5 oz. while the other is 1 oz. Stainless steel is the most common material that they are made from so they are durable and easy to clean. Go to any bar and you’ll probably see a bunch of stainless steel classic jiggers within arms reach of the bartender.

Generally, they are shallow and can spill easy if you are working fast but they are simple, inexpensive, and easy to use. Some have incremental measurements notched on the metal on the inside. However, the beauty of the jigger vs. the shot glass is that you just simply fill it on one of the sides and you know your measurement. Plus, who needs less than 1 oz. of alcohol in a drink anyway?!

If you want to be ready to make some mixed drinks for your next party, try this great 4 piece cocktail jigger set. It’s a great value and gives you 4 different size options.

Japanese Jigger

The Japanese jigger is pretty similar to the classic version. However, it solves the problem of easy spilling through a longer narrow design.

The measurements are also slightly different. Although you can find lots of variations, most Japanese style jiggers will hold 1 oz. on one side and 2 oz. on the other. Maybe this is an issue for you if you prefer the popular 1.5 oz. shot, but if you ‘re mixing drinks for your friends, just throw in 2 oz. and call it good.

If you’d like to get a Japanese style jigger for your bar, here is a great and inexpensive option that I recommend.

UK Jigger

This isn’t necessarily a different style of jigger so much as it just uses different measurements. The typical UK jigger will hold 25 mL on one side and 50 mL on the other. If you don’t feel like doing the math, that works out to .85 oz. and 1.7 oz. respectively. So compared to the classic jigger you’ll get a little more on the small end and a little more on the large end.

If you’re from the UK then you’ll probably appreciate the use of mL as opposed to ounces. So for my UK friends (and pretty much everywhere else in the world except the US) here’s a great UK jigger you can add to your home bar.

Multi-Level Bar Jigger

The last variation we’ll talk about is the multi-level bar jigger. This is typically a single stainless steel cup that can hold up to 2 or 2.5 oz. The unique aspect of it is that it will have measurements at 1 or .5 oz. increments that are defined by kind of a stair step design in the cup. This makes it a lot easier to see when you reach a certain measurement as you pour.

I’ll give credit to whoever designed this for thinking of a solution to the hard to see measurement etchings in most jiggers, but it’s not really convenient to be measuring ounces when you’re mixing drinks. Personally, I’d prefer the classic or the Japanese style so I can just fill it up and pour it in.

But if this all in one approach appeals to you then try this one. It’s stainless steel and inexpensive so it’s a great value and will last forever.

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