MASTER YOUR JIGGER
Four tips to remember when you next practice with your bar jigger
Using a jigger or measure is one of the fundamentals of making mixed drinks. Knowing what you are putting in the glass is basic but vitally important.
I worked for a long time in a bar where we did not use jiggers. We always free-poured all of our spirits, and this helped us work a little bit faster once we were accustomed to the drinks and to the space.
However, it has been proven that the difference is absolutely minimal in terms of speed between using a jigger and free-pouring, and so for the sake of the craft of making cocktails I am saying now that we must always use jiggers whilst working.
So how do we jigger? Every bar is different, we all use different jiggers, and people measure differently with the same jiggers. I will give you some pointers on how to make sure you and your colleagues are saving time and money and creating a consistent experience for your guests.
- Know your jigger. No matter what kind of jigger, make sure that you and every one of your colleagues know the measurements on the jiggers. I worked in a bar with incremental jiggers where every bartender measured the same amounts differently. You need to ensure that you all agree on what 30ml looks like, and pour exactly to that line every single time.
- Be comfortable using it. Practice pouring into your jigger and find the 'sweet spot'. Is the jigger shallow and wide? Unless you pour directly into the centre, it will splash over the sides. Figure out where you should aim and practice hitting the 'soft' part of the bottom of the jigger every time.
- Be comfortable holding it. Your grip must be firm, but your hand must be loose, so you can pour the jigger into the glass or beaker. Practice different grips. It doesn't matter if you use your thumb and two fingers, one finger, or just two fingers, as long as you are comfortable.
- Find a new, more efficient grip. Bartending is about precision, speed, and confidence. If there's a faster jiggering grip, practice and make it look good.
Developing and improving your jiggering method(s) is just one of the challenges for you to accept and use as a tool to take your bartending to the next level. Through practice and commitment to this often under-appreciated aspect of mixing, we eliminate wastage, save time by never over-pouring, and ensure that we are making beautiful drinks every single time.
Our guests love fluid movement and confidence, so be sure you focus on every detail of your movement behind the bar, and jigger well.
Angus Burton is the Australian runner-up in Diageo World Class 2012 and has won numerous bartending competitions. His passion started with his first bartending gig: blending Ramos Gin Fizzes for friends and family 10 years ago. To Angus, cocktails are the ultimate enjoyment of purity through the realisation of experiential theatre. Angus writes from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.