What do all the best bars and bartenders have in common? They insist on measuring all of their ingredients.
Behind the bar we rely on a few different measuring tools, and your first step to great drinks is measuring your ingredients just like the professionals. This is single-handedly the easiest and cheapest thing you can do to elevate your home bartending game.
We call the various cups, cones, and containers used to measure alcohol “jiggers.” Honestly, anything can be a jigger. Commercial products range from expensive Japanese double-sided jiggers to the lowly shot glass.
I can’t count how many times I’ve been at friend’s house and been asked to make drinks. Sometimes, I’ve brought my own jiggers. In a pinch, I’ve used ball jars, plastic bathroom cups, table spoons, cup measures, caps to liquor bottles and just about any other small container lying around the house to batch single drinks or pitchers. Because the most important thing in cocktails is the ratio of ingredients to each other. Oh, and ice, but that’s a topic for another day.
Why? Because that’s how you make the same drink every time.
Cocktails are all about balance—and the best drinks, the canonical ones, the “classics” or “new classics,” have achieved that balance. But you can’t expect the get the same results each time and make truly great drinks if you don’t accurately measure. Just like baking, cocktail making requires more precision than cooking or playing horseshoes.
So…we could say go out and stock your bar with expensive Japanese jiggers and then we could spend a week practicing our pours both into the jigger and from jigger to shaker. And we could look super cool like this guy:
But honestly, I prefer a more humble apparatus: the lowly measuring cup. OXO makes a fantastic 2 oz measuring cup that will allow you to measure all your drinks in the same vessel. They come in plastic or metal, but plastic is a little easier to read because you can use the side view. Also, this style is quick to wash and stacks for easy storage.
A simple shrub sour, made at home using your brand new jigger: 2 parts shrub + 4 parts spirit into a pint glass or shaker. Add ice to fill. Stir, roll, or shake to combine. Pour into two glasses with the ice. If you have extra, leave it in the glass and top up when ready.