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What Every Bartender Should Know About Measures

Every bartender worth his or her cocktail shaker knows the difference between a dash and a splash… Between a muddler, a cobbler and a jigger. Read on and impress your friends.

Shots vs Tots

The actual millilitre quantity varies considerably for these. The most common numbers range from 25ml to 50ml. In the US, 30ml is standard for both, while here in SA, 25ml. A standard-sized liquor bottle is roughly 750ml, so, depending on pouring style, spillage and a few other variables there is 30 shots in one bottle.


This is an hourglass-shaped stainless-steel measurement tool that you’ll find in most bars and is what Salute’s bartenders use to pour with. It’s similar to a shot glass, but it is double-sided with two opposing cups. The truth is that (much like the shot measure), the actual volumes can vary hugely. Here in South Africa, the small side (one measure) is usually 25ml, while the bigger one is double that at 50ml. Americans use ounces – typically 1 ounce for the bigger side, and 2 ounces for the smaller one. The beauty of these jiggers is the accuracy they offer and the style they add to a pour. (Salute-trained bartenders hold them between your thumb forefinger).


Now, here is where training, personal preference, and conventions of particular establishments come to the fore. A ‘part’ is a rough measurement term that could mean a shot, a jigger or even a heavy pour. In a cocktail recipe such as our Afternoon Session cocktails * It’s more about the proportions and relationship between the ingredients: One part gin to three parts tonic, as very basic example. The trick is to keep the volumes of your parts consistent so that the mixing and flavour ratio stays true, all our Academy Courses cover this in some detail.

Dash vs Splash

The truth is that both of these are rough measures (relying on training or personal taste) indicating small amounts. In cocktail recipes, you’ll most often find a ‘dash’ used when calling for bitters (and it means a few shakes of the bottle that amount to less than a bottle-cap full in total). At Salute, we consider this to be around 2,5ml – an agile flick of the wrist. On the contrary, a splash is typically a bigger volume.


This is usually used to describe a measure of whiskey. In liquid terms it traditionally has meant around 3,6ml. In more slang terms is can also be used when referring to a small taste or sip of alcohol.


Not something you often hear behind South African bars, but Stateside this is a colloquial term for a measurement equaling one-fifth of a gallon. Roughly 750ml (a typical spirit or wine bottle) in metric terms.

Measuring Cups

Not reserved for baking – trust us on this one. For pure volume accuracy, it makes sense to use an angled measuring cup. Cups are super useful when creating bigger volume drinks mixes such as punches. The little markers on the cups also allow for experimentation with different liquor ratios and volumes.

Inspired? Salute offers a range of bartending courses hosted by highly experienced trainers. Our training regimes make the courses possible for anyone to do, from the complete novice to seasoned vets. More info here.

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