Cocktails & Spirits


Free Pour Vs. Jigger Method


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Cocktails & Spirits 326

Free Pour Vs. Jigger Method

PontiusPalate | Jul 13, 2014 03:48 PM


When you go into a bar and order a cocktail, do you have a general preference as to whether the bartender uses the free pour method or the jigger method when measuring the amount of alcohol for your cocktail?

I’m a martini drinker who prefers the free pour method. I live in a neighborhood that has about 40 bars within a 2 mile radius from where I live. I have been to most of them at least once, and the vast majority of their bartenders use the free pour method.

This is the norm in my area. In addition, I always walk to these bars to get there. This is one of my rules. If I want a martini, I have to walk to get it.

Some of our local bartenders perform their free pours with a lot of artistry and flair, which can be sheer poetry in motion to watch. It is my impression that the more experienced bartenders in my neighborhood use the free pour method.

I understand the rationale about measurement consistency when bartenders use the jigger method. But it is not as fun to watch. When I order a martini and see a bartender using the jigger method, it is like the bartender is saying to me: “I want to make sure that I don’t give you too much alcohol.” It strikes me as somewhat anal and is kind of a downer. But I also realize that these bartenders may be following the instructions of their managers.

It has also been my experience that, more often than not, I usually receive a stronger martini, when a bartender uses the free pour method. This has been the case the vast majority of the time. There have been a few exceptions, such as the bartender I had a few weeks agpo who only used a two second count for my martinis. In contrast, I have seen some bartenders use at least a five second count.

I might add that the longer the pour count, and the stronger my martini, the greater is my tip. Sometimes I tip as high as 50%.

There is one bar in my neighborhood that used to employ the free pour method. Their martinis were nice and strong. But during my last two visits, their bartenders have suddenly switched to the jigger method. As a result, these martinis have not been nearly as strong.

Could this be a red flag that they may be having financial problems and that their bartenders have been instructed to cut back on the alcohol? If this is the case, I see this as counter-productive. Their volume of customers has also declined lately.

There is another bar right across the street from this one whose martinis, prepared with the free pour method, are much stronger. In fact, one of their martinis, prepared with the free pour method, gives me a greater buzz than the three martinis I had during my last visit to the bar that has just switched to the jigger method.

What’s up with that? In such a market, with so many bars packed so closely together in walking distance from each other, I would think that this bar would want their martinis to be at least somewhat competitive with the others. It is like they are self-destructing.

In case you’re curious, I live in what is known as the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia, which is also located in walking distance from downtown. I might add that Norfolk was ranked last year as the second drunkest city in America by the Daily Beast.

I welcome any and all comments in regard to the above.

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