Pouring and measuring spirits is where all cocktails start so the skill is definitely one to master. Many bars will use a piece of equipment known as a speed pourer. These allow accurate and controlled streams of liquid to leave the bottle, giving the bartender the option to both measure with a jigger or free pour. Using a jigger is considered to be the most accurate, consistent way to make cocktails, meaning every time you order at the bar, with any bartender, the drink should be the same. Cocktails live and die on the balance of ingredients, a miss measurement will quickly lead to a drink that won’t taste the way it should. Jiggers come in many different styles, so it’s important to find the type you are most comfortable using.
The best way to become efficient at both pouring and jiggering is to practice by filling an empty liquor bottle with water, repeatedly pour and measure into a shaking tin or mixing glass until this becomes a fluid and easy motion. To really test yourself repeat the process by swapping hands.
- Pick up your jigger in your non dominant hand, how you hold this will depend on the style of jigger.
- Align the top of the jigger near the top of the tin or mixing glass. This speeds up measuring and will avoid spills as you all you need to do is pour the liquid, rather than move the jigger to pour.
- Pick up the bottle with your free hand. If you’re using a speed pourer hold it from the neck, this will allow you to ‘cut’ the stream of liquid quickly. If not, hold the bottle in the middle.
- Pour the liquid into the jigger. If using a speed pourer the liquid will come out faster the higher the bottom of the bottle is. Start by keeping this as high as you feel comfortable to begin with, getting the bottle higher as you get more comfortable. Lower the bottle to slow the stream, once the jigger is full, rotate your wrist towards you and lower the bottle quickly. This will stop the stream instantly. The most important part of jiggering is to fill it to the top. To ensure the measurement is correct have a look at the surface tension, if it is unfilled the liquid will be concave, if it is overfilled it’ll be convex.
- Tip the jigger over into the tin or glass, if the jigger is correctly positioned this will just be a simple movement.