whats the difference between a shot and a jigger 1
whats the difference between a shot and a jigger 1

How often have we found ourselves in a lively bar, mesmerized by the array of bottles and curious about the lingo thrown around by the bartender? In the midst of this excitement, we may have encountered two terms that seem deceptively similar: the shot and the jigger. Yet, while these words may be used interchangeably by some, discerning bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts understand that there is indeed a difference between the two. Let us embark on a delightful exploration where we uncover the nuances that distinguish a shot from a jigger, expanding our knowledge and appreciation for the art of mixology.

Whats The Difference Between A Shot And A Jigger?

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What is a shot?

A shot is a small serving of an alcoholic beverage that is typically consumed quickly in one gulp. It is commonly poured into a shot glass or a small glass designed specifically for this purpose. Shots often contain strong spirits or liqueurs and are consumed as a standalone drink or as part of a cocktail. The term “shot” refers to the act of quickly consuming the beverage, much like taking a shot in sports or aiming with a gun.

What is a jigger?

A jigger is a measuring tool used by bartenders to accurately measure and pour specific amounts of liquid for cocktails. It is a double-sided metal tool with two different-sized cups on each end, typically a larger cup (usually 1.5 ounces) and a smaller cup (usually 1 ounce). The larger cup is referred to as the “jigger” and the smaller cup is called the “pony.” Jiggers ensure consistency in drink recipes by providing precise measurements and are essential for maintaining balance and flavor in cocktails.


Shot measurement

While there is no strict definition of exactly how much liquid constitutes a shot, it is commonly understood to be around 1.5 ounces or 44 milliliters. However, this can vary depending on the country or establishment. Some places may serve larger shots, such as 2 ounces or more, while others may offer smaller ones, around 1 ounce. Ultimately, the measurement of a shot is subjective and can be influenced by cultural, regional, or personal preferences.

Jigger measurement

Jiggers have a standardized measurement, with the larger cup typically holding 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) and the smaller cup holding 1 ounce (30 milliliters). This consistency allows bartenders to accurately measure and pour specific amounts of liquid for cocktails. Jiggers provide a reliable and reproducible way of measuring ingredients, ensuring the consistency and balance of flavors in drinks.


Types of shots

There is a wide variety of shots to cater to different tastes and preferences. Some popular types include:

  1. Straight Shots: The most basic type of shot, consisting of a single spirit or liqueur consumed on its own. Examples include whiskey shots, tequila shots, and vodka shots.

  2. Shooter Shots: These shots are usually made by layering different ingredients to create visually appealing and flavorful drinks. Examples include the B-52 shot, Kamikaze shot, and Jägerbomb.

  3. Mocktail Shots: Non-alcoholic shots that offer the same enjoyable experience without the presence of alcohol. They are often crafted using fruit juices, soda, and flavored syrups.

Types of jiggers

Jiggers come in various shapes and sizes, but the most common types include:

  1. Double-Sided Jigger: This is the traditional jigger, featuring different-sized cups on each end—the larger cup representing 1.5 ounces and the smaller 1 ounce. It offers versatility for measuring different quantities of liquid.

  2. Japanese Jigger: This type of jigger has a taller and slender design, commonly measuring the same 1.5-ounce and 1-ounce capacities but with a sleek aesthetic.

  3. Adjustable Jigger: Unlike the double-sided jigger, the adjustable jigger allows the bartender to measure various quantities by sliding a movable piece along its length. This type is ideal for recipes that call for non-standard measurements.


Shot usage

Shots have a wide range of uses, both in bars and at home. Here are a few common ways shots are used:

  1. Standalone Drinks: Shots are often consumed on their own as quick and concentrated servings of alcohol. They are popular in social settings or as a way to kick-start a night out.

  2. Ingredients in Cocktails: Many cocktails require small amounts of spirits or liqueurs to provide flavor or a specific alcohol kick. Shots can be a convenient way for bartenders to measure and pour these ingredients into their cocktails.

  3. Tasting and Sampling: Shots offer an excellent opportunity to taste different spirits or liqueurs without committing to a full-sized drink. This allows enthusiasts to explore various flavors and expand their palate.

Jigger usage

Jiggers are an essential tool in cocktail-making and are used in a variety of ways:

  1. Precise Measurements: Jiggers ensure that each ingredient is accurately measured, providing consistency in taste across different cocktails. This is particularly important for complex recipes that require multiple ingredients.

  2. Layering and Pouring Techniques: The two different cups in a jigger are useful for creating layered cocktails, where different liquids float on top of each other. By carefully pouring each layer into the appropriate cup of the jigger, bartenders can achieve visually appealing and distinct layers in their drinks.

  3. Inventory Control: Jiggers help control costs and maintain inventory by ensuring that the appropriate amount of alcohol is being poured into each drink. This eliminates inconsistencies and waste, allowing for better management of resources.

Whats The Difference Between A Shot And A Jigger?

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Bartender’s Tool

Shot as a tool

From the bartender’s perspective, a shot serves as a versatile tool for a variety of purposes:

  1. Quick Service: Shots are a convenient tool for rapidly serving drinks in busy establishments. Whether as standalone drinks or as part of cocktails, the small size and efficient serving method allow bartenders to cater to multiple customers simultaneously.

  2. Appearance Enhancement: Shots can be creatively presented in a visually appealing manner, attracting customers through enticing aesthetics. The way they are garnished or the glassware they are served in can elevate the overall presentation and customer experience.

Jigger as a tool

Jiggers are indispensable tools for bartenders due to their accuracy and efficiency:

  1. Consistency in Recipes: Jiggers provide bartenders with a precise measuring tool that ensures consistency in taste and quality across different batches of the same drink. This is particularly important for signature cocktails that need to maintain a specific flavor profile.

  2. Time-Saving: By using a jigger, bartenders can efficiently measure and pour ingredients without the need for additional measurement devices. This speeds up the cocktail-making process, allowing them to serve customers more quickly and efficiently.

Size and Capacity

Shot size and capacity

The size and capacity of a shot can vary depending on the individual or establishment:

  1. Standard Shot: The most common size is around 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters), which allows for a single gulp or swift consumption. This size provides a balanced serving that is not too overwhelming for most drinkers.

  2. Larger Shots: Some establishments may offer larger shots, typically around 2 ounces (59 milliliters) or more, catering to those who prefer a more generous portion of their chosen spirit.

Jigger size and capacity

Jiggers have standardized sizes and capacities, regardless of the specific type or design:

  1. Larger Cup (Jigger): The larger cup of the jigger typically holds 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters), providing the standard measure for many cocktails and drink recipes.

  2. Smaller Cup (Pony): The smaller cup, also known as the pony, typically holds 1 ounce (30 milliliters). This smaller capacity allows for precise measurements when smaller amounts of ingredients are required.

Whats The Difference Between A Shot And A Jigger?

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Historical Context

Shot in history

The origin of the term “shot” in relation to alcohol dates back to the 17th century, originating from the Old English word “sceot,” meaning a “dividing of booty.” In the context of alcohol, the term transitioned, referring to a small serving of alcohol that is quickly consumed. The practice of taking shots became increasingly popular during the Prohibition era in the United States when the consumption of alcohol was banned. Shots allowed individuals to consume alcoholic beverages discreetly and rapidly, minimizing the chances of detection.

Jigger in history

The use of jiggers in bartending can be traced back to the late 19th century, coinciding with the rise of modern cocktail culture. Prior to the invention of standardized jiggers, bartenders primarily relied on rough measurements, estimates, or the “free pour” method. The introduction of jiggers revolutionized the craft, allowing for precision and consistency in cocktail-making. Over time, different designs and materials have emerged, but the core purpose and functionality of the jigger have remained the same.


Shot accuracy

The accuracy of a shot primarily depends on the skill and experience of the person pouring it. However, due to the subjective nature and lack of strict measurements, there is a degree of variability in shot accuracy. Some establishments may use pour spouts or measured pourers to regulate the flow of the liquid, improving accuracy to a certain extent. Nonetheless, for strict accuracy in measuring specific quantities, jiggers are the preferred choice.

Jigger accuracy

Jiggers are highly accurate tools for measuring and pouring liquid. When used correctly, they provide consistent and precise measurements, ensuring that the proportions of each ingredient in a cocktail are correct. Bartenders rely on the accuracy of jiggers to maintain the intended flavor and balance of their drinks, resulting in a reliable and enjoyable experience for customers.

Whats The Difference Between A Shot And A Jigger?

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Popular Drinks

Popular drinks served in a shot

Shots are commonly associated with specific drinks that are traditionally consumed in a single gulp or shot glass:

  1. Tequila Shot: Tequila shots often involve licking salt from the hand, followed by shooting a portion of tequila, and finishing with biting into a slice of lime. This combination is known as the “tequila shot ritual” and is popular in many social settings.

  2. Jägerbomb: A Jägerbomb shot consists of dropping a shot glass filled with Jägermeister into a larger glass of energy drink. The combination creates an energetic and flavorful drink that is a hit at parties and bars.

  3. Kamikaze: The Kamikaze shot is made by combining vodka, triple sec, and lime juice. It is a tangy and refreshing shot that is often served at cocktail parties or as a prelude to a night of celebration.

Popular drinks served in a jigger

Jiggers are commonly used to measure specific quantities of ingredients in various cocktails. Some popular drinks that are often made using jiggers include:

  1. Margarita: The classic Margarita includes tequila, lime juice, and triple sec. Accurate measurements provided by the jigger ensure the correct balance of flavors, resulting in a perfectly balanced cocktail.

  2. Martini: A Martini typically requires precise measurements of gin (or vodka) and vermouth. A jigger ensures that the right amount of ingredients is used, resulting in a well-balanced and sophisticated cocktail.

  3. Mojito: The Mojito, a refreshing cocktail made with rum, lime juice, simple syrup, mint leaves, and soda water, relies on accurate jigger measurements to achieve the desired combination of sweet, sour, and minty flavors.

Common Misconceptions

Misconception about shots

  1. Shots are always served in shot glasses: While shot glasses are commonly used for serving shots, they are not the only vessels. Shots can be served in various small glasses or even in specially designed containers, depending on the occasion and preference.

  2. All shots are meant to be consumed quickly: While it is true that shots are typically consumed in one gulp, there is no hard and fast rule that dictates the speed at which a shot must be taken. Some individuals may prefer to savor the flavors or take smaller sips, enjoying the shot at a more leisurely pace.

Misconception about jiggers

  1. Jiggers are only used by professional bartenders: While jiggers are commonly associated with bartending professionals, they can also be used by home bartenders or cocktail enthusiasts. Jiggers are readily available and are a valuable tool for anyone looking to create cocktails with precision and accuracy.

  2. Jiggers limit creativity in cocktail-making: Jiggers provide accurate measurements, but they do not restrict creativity in cocktail-making. Professional bartenders often develop their skills to pour by instinct or “free pour,” but jiggers are still used for consistency and precise measurements in busy bar environments or when following specific recipes. Jiggers help ensure that the desired balance and flavor profile of a cocktail are maintained, even when using creative or intricate recipes.

In conclusion, shots and jiggers serve distinct purposes in the world of beverages and bartending. Shots are small servings of alcoholic beverages typically consumed quickly, whether as standalone drinks or as part of cocktails. On the other hand, jiggers are measuring tools used to accurately measure and pour specific quantities of liquid, ensuring consistency and balance in cocktails. While shots offer versatility in quick service and enhancing appearances, jiggers provide accuracy and efficiency in cocktail-making. Understanding the differences between shots and jiggers allows for a better appreciation of their roles in creating enjoyable and well-crafted drinks.

Whats The Difference Between A Shot And A Jigger?

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