Jigger vs. Free-Pour

When I was in college, I joined this yearly skills competition of sorts for colleges and universities.

I participated in the cocktail mixing category.  During those times, we used the jigger: a double-headed stainless bar tool used to measure accurately the liquid poured out from the bottle to the glass.

Then there was Tom Cruise’s movie. In all of the bar scenes, I cannot recall ever seeing this bar tool used whenever he made a drink. And then there was a time that I had a short stint at TGIFriday’s. I wanted to learn how to flip a bottle like the bartenders did. That was the first time I was introduced to flair. At this bar, they don’t use the jigger but instead used “free pouring.”

Free-pouring is pouring the liquid from the bottle directly into a glass without the use of a jigger but by mental counting. If mastered, this is a very accurate and fast method. At the tip of their bottles were chrome plated spouts called pourspouts/speed pourers, specifically Spill Stop # 285-50.

And so, as I became a bartender myself, I was again oriented by my Bar Supervisor on how to use the jigger and how to pour properly. At that time, I would still practice free-pour knowing that it will be an advantage someday.

In some bar operations, the use of the jigger and the pour spout were combined. The bottles had pour spouts and all the bartender has to do is pour it to the jigger and transfer it to the glass.

I then became a supervisor myself, and I taught my staff how to free-pour once in a while but I followed the strict use of the jigger to monitor my costs.

Time has passed and I entered the academe. I did some readings, interviews, net surfing and observations. I found out that technically, “free-pouring” which TGI bartenders practice religiously is a lot faster if mastered and done correctly.

Although I get to see some bartenders from other bars attempt to do free-pour, they actually “over pour” in the process because they seem to have not been taught how to do a proper free-pour.

When I did this article, it was 2002 and there are still bars which use the jigger. With this observation, I began to wonder … which one is really better? The jigger or the pourspout? I asked even the bartenders abroad and they don’t use the jigger anymore because it just delays service.

Another thing they say is that it doesn’t look professional especially when you are facing your guests, they would think that you are limiting them to shots. But when looking at the point of view of the managers, they would say that the jigger makes them control there cost accurately because they know exactly how many shots were used from the bottle. Will it?

On the other hand, with free pouring, there is a bigger probability of over pouring and /or under pouring simply because it is just an estimate. Is it? Doesn’t the use of a jigger have its own probability of over and/or under-pouring especially when they bartender has shaky hands?

Having worked on ships, there would be managers who require to use the jigger and there would be some who would let us free-pour as long as we knew how to do it.

So which is better? Jigger or Free-pour?

Probability of over pour and under pour can occur in both methods. Although if you “practice” probability of accuracy in both methods are great as well. With all being equal, who has the edge?

In terms of service, I think “free-pour” has an edge. One would be one to two steps ahead if he does free-pour.

Cost is not the issue. I think what we should really look at is the essence of the operation and the F&B industry which is SERVICE. Service which is fast, accurate and of the highest quality. Service that will allow the bartender make a lot of drinks in the shortest period of time. Regardless of what tool we use, this should always be the primary concern.

As a manager, between the two equipment, which one will make your guests come back? Which do you think will make your bartenders look professional?

It is your choice.

37 Comments on “Jigger vs. Free-Pour”

  1. Good cocktails take time just like good food. If speed was the only concern for restaurants their kitchen would be using microwaves. Free pouring is lazy and shows that a bartender doesn't really care about the quality of there product. What happens when you have to make 3 old fashions at once? or any stirred drink for that matter?

  2. I asked my father, who work on a cruise ship, about what he can say on this article. He said that it depends on the manager if he required using a jigger or not. And it also depends on the guest. Because some guest wants to double his/her drink. In my own opinion, if I were the bartender I would prefer free pouring, if I already mastered it because it will not consume time and I can make the drink faster. And if I were the manager and I manage an open bar I would prefer the free pouring because like I said it can speed up the bartender in making a cocktail or any drink the guest will order, And if the guest or guests satisfied on the service he would come back.

  3. i think that the article is somewhat helpful and might serve as an eye opener for those who doesn't even know the difference between a jigger and a free-Pour. this can actually make them think which is better because there is a possibility that some may be used to in using jigger and some in using the free-pour depending on the user's capability and personal preference so they will be bias and will not be able to try both and just stick on what they are used to use. so with this, it can make them think of using and testing both to explore and discover which is more effective. but then, since this article doesn't have any biases, this may also imply that there is no big problem on what instrument to use as long as the user knew and masters how to use it effectively and accurately.

    JOHN RALPH A. SUCGANG H08214

  4. i think that this article is interesting in a way because not all people know the difference between the two, and with this article i bet they now know the difference. i guess its up to the user if she/he would use the jigger or not,, but it would be cool if you'll be able to do free-pouring right? if only, and only if you know the right way to do it..:)

    MANUEL, KAYLEEN H08214

  5. PAGARIGAN JR. ROMULO R. (PAUL) H08214

    i think this kind of article is very well interesting because being a bartender is a kind of professional job which is giving your own sense of style and delivery to people.. jigger or a free pour? its up to them what is their choice..but importantly is to make their customer's satisfied..

  6. I prefer free-pour technique than using the jigger. If given the chance to practice, I'm sure I can perfect it. Using said technique will make me look like a real professional and an expert on that area. And it is faster in terms of service to the customers. Free pour is quite an informal way of preparing drinks which I think I can compare to my own naturalness and spontaneity!

    LOPEZ, TRISHA D. H08214

  7. It depends, obviously if your a beginer better start with the "jigger". me as a learner i rather choose jigger than free pour. so whats with the Noob "jigger" thing? i dont give a damn about what ppl say, atleast im learning ey?.Me as a manager of the bar? i'll consider the ambiance of the bar, if there are less costumer, go with the jigger, cause there is nothing to worry to speed up. but if the bar is crowded and full of costumers, thats the time to use free pouring to fasten the work.

    But the most important is to satisfy the costumer and get them drunk! especially if the costumer is hot! hell yeahh! kidding. 😛

    Schofield 214

  8. This article is very interesting and full of fun, jigger or a free pour? I would prefer free pour because if given the chance to do free pour it will not consume time and there is a possibility to drink faster. But what is really important? Show and do what they want that can show your profession and to satisfied the customers for them to be more interesting 🙂

  9. This article is very interesting and full of fun, jigger or a free pour? I would prefer free pour because if given the chance to do free pour it will not consume time and there is a possibility to drink faster. But what is really important? Show and do what they want that can show your profession and to satisfied the customers for them to be more interesting 🙂

    HERNANDEZ, JENICA PATRIZ J.
    HO8214

  10. jigger can use for a beginner one, it is not because it doesn’t look professional especially when you are facing your guests it is because you monitored the capacity of equal pouring alcohol on to their guests glass and also for the quality of the cocktail. speed is not an issue. giving quality and right quality will lead to a customer satisfaction. on the latter part, you can practice and and do free-pouring if and only if you mastered the equal quantity for making a cocktail. if you combined the two aspect which is speed and giving quality, it is not only satisfying your customer, but also you're exceeding on their satisfaction that will lead to a great success.

    Baldos, Michael
    h08214

  11. Anonymous said…

    it so "ASTIG" "cool" if you know how to free pour, because it looks like your a professional and all the guest will like it. but if your not good in that kind of style you must use the jigger. for me i want of course how to do free pour. :)))

    CAÑAL,Sarrah Mae C.

    H08214

  12. for me, free-pour is far better from jigger.
    it may seem that using it only shows that you are lazy… but when you are in the situation of dealing with many guest, TIMING is your best enemy.
    and in fact, you are not dealing with one type of personality… what if you are serving the guest who is not patient to wait for his drink?
    what would you do?
    so i prefer the free-pour than the jigger.

    RAMONES, SALVADOR JR., C.
    H08214

  13. The article is very informative, tackles 2 ways of serving a drink free pouring and jigger, in my own opinion if I owned a bar I would prefer free pouring, because its FAST if mastered it is accurate and would be convenient in the part of the customer, rather than the jigger which takes time in preparing cocktail, because what matters most is satisfying the customer, now in fast pace of modernization and growing business all that matters is CUSTOMER SATISFACTION, business is still business , whether its cost efficient, or over pouring , or takes time to serve the drink d end of the day if customer will like what you serve they will kip on coming….

    CALDERON, GRACE ANNE MARIE R
    HO8214

  14. This Article is very helpful in way to know the difference of the two jigger and the free-pouring. If your are a beginner you will be starting at the "jigger" if doesn't look like professional but you will know the capacity of equal pouring. When you get better and better thats the time you'll be using the Free-pouring if you perfect the equal quantity for making the cocktails it will be easy and fast. It's faster than the jigger in terms of Service to the costumers.

    Whatever of those two we used the most important thing is to Satisfy our costumers. =)))

    LAXAMANA, LAMBERTH L. =) hO8214

  15. Well, figuratively speaking, free pouring method is a fast and easy way if mastered but if not it doesn't always result in an accurate measure of alcohol while using jiggers will ensures consistent amount of alcohol but it requires extra time so i must say i go to free pouring. Working in the F&B industry should satisfy every customers demand and you have to consider the time for a good service to generate profit.

    In addition with that, if you really want to look professional probably you should be well practiced free pouring for you to impress your patrons .

    Sison, Zyra Charmaine R.
    HO8218

  16. Its really funny when you find out or learn new things from unexpected moments, like from a movie and the like.

    Anyways, If I was the customer, I would prefer the Jigger method because I would be more impress with a bartender using the jigger, plus more customers would surely be attracted with that method, the delay in service really depends, I mean most of the customers there aren't in a hurry, they went there to enjoy and have a good time so surely it wouldn't bother them to see bartenders perform with jiggers, they probably wouldn't notice that there is a delay. I'm not saying that free pouring isn't a good method, I'm just stating my opinion about the topic. When it comes to which one is better, then I'd say both are because each one of the two has its own pro's and cons.

    H08214

    Marie Grace Lardizabal

  17. i think the free pour is the best for me. but you need to learn first about using jigger to make it accurate and to master how to free pour.

    the free pour might loss accurate but it is the fastest way to make cocktails.. so? what is the best way? i think you have to learn both of them and use it both into different customers. if you know the the guest well, you can choose what is the best way for him/her. thats make the bartender works professional.

    MAÑO JOHN HOLY B.
    BS HRM
    HO8214

  18. Some bartenders refuse to use jiggers because they feel that it’s just an extra, unnecessary step in building a cocktail. Using jiggers ensures a bartender’s ability to be consistent with every cocktail that they make. The use of jiggers doesn’t require any more extra time than it does to free pour as long as the bartender is prepared with their tools ahead of time. Also, customers feel assured that they are getting an accurate pour in their drinks because they can watch the bartender measure out the alcohol.

    Amoncio, Mark Anthony M.
    BS HRM
    h08214

  19. For my own opinion, you must start first with Jigger. Then later, if you already mastered it, you may use free pour because for me, basic and old tradition of professional must be known first. It is important mostly for the newbies bartenders when it comes to bartending because you can measure the exact quantity of the beverages in the right amount. Then if your professional enough and well experienced bartender, you may use free pour because thats the way bartender looks professional. Free pour has a less time consuming.. More accurate and of course more fun because you looks like more professional because it will looks like you don't measure beverage anymore.

    Rueca, John Jacob M.
    BS HRM
    H08214

  20. This is a good blog for me as a HRM student from FEU. Because i learned many things about bartending so i can apply it to my self someday when im in work. for me free-pour is more good and accurate than using jigger. because it will helps look like a professional bartender.

    h08214
    JOSEPH M. CAGARA

  21. well, for me, I would prefer the jigger method because i also want to see the bartender's performance and also, customers are there to enjoy and have fun, and it would be more enjoyable if they see the bartender perform some tricks. It doesn't mean that the free pouring isn't a good method, this is just my opinion about the topic. But I say both methods are great.

    HO8214

    Gerard E. Marcial

  22. karen mae diaz
    BS HRM
    HO8214

    the article is very interesting. bartending is a super fun and super interesting profession. for me, i think jigger is better than free pouring although free pouring is also a good one. but free pouring doesn't always result in an accurate measure of alcohol because not all bartenders count at the same speed. Some bartenders might count slower and some might have a faster count.

    But if bartenders used jigger, I think customers would feel assured that they are getting an accurate pour in their drinks because they can watch the bartenders measure out the alcohol.

  23. very well said sir!

    the article was very interesting.
    well, for me i must prefer free-pour than jigger, because since it make me look professional that's what i wanna be someday after i finished my college level. because using the free-pour method, it is the fast and easy way if mastered. so i must prefer to use free-pour method than using jigger.

    MANGAOANG, MIRA FATIMA L. -HO8214-

  24. very well said sir!

    well, i must prefer free-pour. because it makes me look professional and that's what i wanna be someday after i finished my college level. because free-pour method is the fast and easy way if mastered. so i must prefer to use free-pour method than using a jigger.

    MANGAOANG, MIRA FATIMA L. -HO8214-

  25. thats great sir!
    for me, i must use free pour method that the jigger. because someday i want to be an owner of a bar. and i want to be a professional, since using free-pour method makes me look professional i must prefer in my bar someday to use this kind of method than the jigger.

    Marvin Roy M. Lanzar
    H08214

  26. The best way and the fastest way to dispense cocktail ingredients, but not the most accurate is the free pouring technique that used mostly by the bartenders. But in some point, you should master and practice first on how to use a jigger as a beginner. After that, if you are better enough you can now use the said technique. There are many advantages of using this technique, like for instances if you are in a rush and your measure is critical use this method and in the other hand it will make you look like a professional in the eyes of your customers. And also it not the cost that count but it is the quality of your service that made your customers satisfied.

    Capuli, Francis Paolo L.
    HO8214

  27. interesting…..

    i think sir…
    for me?
    i prefer to use jigger first…
    because,
    i've read this from a site…
    if you do not have the skill to accurately free pour, use a jigger until you have been able to accurately hone your counting skills. Make sure to pour everything straight into the mixing glass without ice, as well, so that you can memorize the measures on the side of the glass. Using both of these techniques will ensure that you consistently pour accurate measures and get the same high quality cocktail every time.
    hehe…

    Rosuello, Jesse Valen A.
    hO8214

  28. for me..

    i would prefer to use a free-pour because if i will be used to it. it wont be a problem for me to over pour. if i will be a guest i would like to be served by free-pour so it wont be consuming a lot of time to keep me waiting, especially when there will be a lot of guest..

    Tuares, Reinier T.
    H08214

  29. Asuncion,Cristina G.
    h08214

    -I would rather choose using a jigger rather than free pour,I think that the taste of the cocktail would be much better.Using free pour method is only advisable for expert bartenders only.

  30. Specialty cocktails on a drink menu should always be jiggered to promote consistency of the cocktails between all bartenders behind the bar. Especially in scenarios where there are 2 to 3 bartenders behind the bar working at the same time as a team. But, if you're making single pour cocktails there's really no science behind it. It's a single shot and your mixer. That, any novice bartender can make. Any bartender can learn to free pour, all it takes is practice and pour testing. Any manager that uses the excuse of cost to force the use of jiggers on single pour cocktails is actually being counter productive. It takes longer to make cocktails, in turn taking longer to take care of guests, which means now you're making less drinks and making less profit. It's a false sense of security. If you think your bartender isn't experienced enough to free pour, you should've have hired them. And if you think a bartender is purposely over pouring, a jigger or
    even an EZ pour top isn't going to stop them. Management should worry about the who, not the how. If you don't trust your bartender, fire them. Don't sacrifice
    service and profitability because you have inadequate staff.

  31. It is simple. The Argument between Jiggers and Free Pouring. I think jiggers are used by those conventional types of people who really want the accuracy in making drinks, free pouring on the other hand are for those unorthodox type of people who can show their skills especially when preparing drinks while flipping bottles at the same time. For me since I am still not used to mixing and flipping I'd rather use a jigger but in time as I can develop my skills around the bar I'd shift to free pouring as well one reason why? Chicks dig it. In any case there is really no real argument between free pouring and jiggers, it's as simple as "everyone can use a jigger but not everyone can free pour". For those using a jigger now we should give credit in terms of costing because I believe using such device can save more money in the bar. For those free pouring two thumbs up! For they have acquired a skill not all can master, but cost wise, I'd still go for jiggers.

  32. It is simple. The Argument between Jiggers and Free Pouring. I think jiggers are used by those conventional types of people who really want the accuracy in making drinks, free pouring on the other hand are for those unorthodox type of people who can show their skills especially when preparing drinks while flipping bottles at the same time. For me since I am still not used to mixing and flipping I'd rather use a jigger but in time as I can develop my skills around the bar I'd shift to free pouring as well one reason why? Chicks dig it. In any case there is really no real argument between free pouring and jiggers, it's as simple as "everyone can use a jigger but not everyone can free pour". For those using a jigger now we should give credit in terms of costing because I believe using such device can save more money in the bar. For those free pouring two thumbs up! For they have acquired a skill not all can master, but cost wise, I'd still go for jiggers.

    AH02 Giovanni Angelo Montenegro

  33. I think free-pour will make the bartenders look more professional. As I have learned from our past discussions in Bar Management, Bartenders are very visible; the guest can see what they do and how they do their drinks. After all, service is what this business is all about, maybe with the use of jigger they can track the cost but will it make the customers want to go back to that place again, will they become more interested in seeing how their bartenders do their drinks? People want something to watch, something that will marvel them. If the people can see how good that bartender is and showing his skills in free-pouring, more customers will come to that bar, and more customer means more profit.

    AH02
    Arciaga, Ronalyn Angelica N.

  34. Nice article  hmm in my own opinion, I prefer the “free pour” , yes there is a big possibility for over pouring but come to think of it, free pouring has this impression of a professional. Well every bartenders sometimes wants to show off their skills even a little bit to have that impression, because it only means that the bartender already knows what he is doing and doesn’t need the use of a jigger. Also free pouring helps the bartender to make more drinks in a short period of time, especially when there are a lot of costumers coming in and ordering their drinks. For some the cost doesn’t matter as long as they have satisfied the needs and wants of their customers, and that is the most important thing to them.

    ARPILLEDA, Mary Anne Rose T.
    Bar Lab – AH02

  35. This article is interesting, I learned things that is needed in my subject. I prefer the jigger because it can measure the alcohol that you are putting in your cocktail. The people or the guest will know how many Liters did you put in their order. So it is the best thing, it impresses the customer. You should practice these things while your doing it.

    Garcia, Justin Timothy G.
    Bar Lab HRM132L – AH02

  36. The article is very relevant specially in a the form of money versus the fast service that we offer to customers. In a way free pouring really makes the bartender look like a professional which can be a factor that customers will go back again and at the same time the tendency of over pouring when using a free pour is also risky in terms of costing but i really believe that a good bartender will find a way on how to innovate in using the jigger and free pour at same time while entertaining the guest so that at the same time he accurately calculates the alcohol and entertaining the guest.

    Nobleza, Nikko Martin G.
    Bar Lab HRM132L – AH02

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