How to make cocktails

How to measure cocktail ingredients

Words by Simon Difford

Balancing each ingredient within a cocktail is key to making a great drink. Therefore, the accuracy with which ingredients are measured is critical to the finished cocktail.

On this website, we express the measures of each ingredient in a cocktail in ounces, millilitres, centilitres and shots - simply select your preference below each recipe.

The most accurate way of measuring liquids is by weight rather than volume but weighing each ingredient is impractical for cocktail making so this is best achieved by using a specially designed measure called a jigger.

Many bartender jiggers are double-sided so that turning such measures over reveals a second size of measuring cylinder or cone. The disadvantage of this design is that after one side has been used and then upended it faces down so is likely to drip. Note such a problem with spirits but surfaces and hands can get sticky when measuring liqueurs or syrups.

Jiggers with graduated measures allow different volumes to be accurately measured using the same device without the need to upend. That's why we designed our Easy Jigger, which, as the name suggests, is easy to use, measures in millilitres and ounces, and we believe is the most accurate graduated bar jigger available.

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When using a jigger, be aware of the dome-shaped meniscus created by surface tension. To measure a full measure many jiggers require filling to the brim with the liquid's meniscus (the curve on the surface) appearing as a continuation of the jigger's rim. When pouring to a line on a graduated measure the meniscus should be a continuation of that line. Misjudging the effect of the meniscus could result in an over pour.

Tall skinny measures and jiggers are more accurate than the short squat measures as differences in measures are more exaggerated. Hence, the cone shape of our Easy Jigger which elongates small measures to such an extent that its graduations start at 1.25 ml / 1/24th oz.

Whatever jigger or measuring vessel you use, the key thing is to end up with the ratio of one ingredient to another as stipulated in the recipe so be consistent in the measure used and technique so the proportions of each ingredient are correct to each other.

The following rough conversion table (1 US fluid ounce is actually 29.5735296ml) shows the common measures used in cocktails - measure in green being the most used to those in red being least called for in recipes.

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Some bartenders measure shots by counting time while the liquid pours to estimating the amount of liquid flowing through a bottle's pour spout. This is known as "free-pouring" and useless much practised and perfected is very inaccurate. We strongly recommend the use of a physical measure and a great deal of care.

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