Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Perfect Cocktail Jigger

As I wrote in my previous essay, Reggie is partial to the joys of a gin martini.  Reggie is not only fond of gin, Dear Reader, but of spirits in general, and he enjoys consuming such liquids regularly, if not daily.  Although he adores the imbibition of spirits, he is careful to regulate the amounts he pours down his gullet by measuring his portions in a silver jigger designed specifically for said purpose.

The perfect cocktail jigger

In his opinion, there is no more delightful jigger with which to measure (and in Reggie's case limit) the pouring of devil booze into one's glass, and ultimately down one's throat, than the vintage silver "STOPLIGHT JIGGER" once made by the Gorham Manufacturing Company, and shown in the above photograph.


Standing but two and three-eighths inches tall, the silver jigger is conveniently divided into three portions of one ounce, two and a half ounces, and three and a half ounces, and provides a most useful and clever correlation with a street stoplight.  The smallest portion, identified by an image of an enameled green stoplight, is equivalent to a single shot ("Go ahead!"); the middle portion, with a yellow stoplight, is equivalent to a double ("Careful!"); and the largest portion, with a red stoplight, is hefty enough to get one snockered when administered in a single dose ("Stop, you fool!").

Reggie has been a fan of the Gorham silver stoplight jigger for many years, having first acquired one several decades ago.  We keep (and faithfully use) one at Darlington House and another in our city apartment.  The one at Darlington can be seen sitting on a cocktail tray featured in my Lenten Ashes post last year.

Reggie likes the stoplight jigger enough that he bought two more of them this past weekend at the large antiques show he attended in New York.  Now he has on hand said jiggers to give as gifts to fortunate friends when circumstances call for doing so.

The pair of silver stoplight jiggers I picked up
at the Pier Show last weekend

The Gorham Manufacturing Company is today but an unfortunate shadow of its former self and long ago ceased making its stoplight jiggers.  However, these delightful little measuring devices can readily be found at antiques shows and online, and in Reggie's view are a worthy (and appreciated) addition to any household's cocktail tray.

Photographs by Boy Fenwick

23 comments:

  1. A beautiful and fun thing, Reggie, and rather puts our stainless steel jigger to shame. Still, onwards and upwards and looking for both a new jigger and cocktail shaker. Apropos of cocktails, I've begun to prefer Manattans stirred rather than shaken - seems a more respectful way to treat good quality strong drink.

    Again, a beautiful object!

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    1. I would apgree with you -- a Manhattan is best stirred versus a martini, which I prefer shaken.

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  2. Whimsical. Well designed. Utilitarian (of sorts).
    Just watch out for that red light camera.
    Cheers!
    Your humble reader,
    BarbaraG

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  3. Reggie I have not seen this beautiful Gorham piece! So beautiful for the bar area or drink tray. It will make a very special gift for a good friend!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  4. Dear Mr. Darling,

    Of all the jiggers in all the world, I just knew you'd be writing about this particular whimsical model. I've loved this for years! I failed to spot it in your post from last year as I did not see the red light. Perhaps, with use, you had worn off the enamel one imagines. Ironically, being as it is an American piece, I first saw the stoplight jigger at a terrific antiques stall in London that specializes in barware. At that particular time, I was purchasing a vintage Napier cocktail shaker as a gift for a friend who is mad for collecting these very useful things. Your jigger is indeed most elegant. Your friends are very lucky to be receiving such a gift from their most generous and stylish friend.

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    Replies
    1. LizaE: Your have eagle eyes, indeed. The stoplight jigger at Darlington has been polished enough over the years that its red enamel has been worn away. Must fix that!

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  5. Hello Reggie:
    We wonder if your 'traffic light' measuring cups resemble Italian drivers. At a green light, it is GO as fast as you can. At an amber light, it is GO if you must. At a red light it is GO and to hell with the consequences!!!!!

    Your 'jiggers' really are delightful and we certainly wish that we had them 'lighting' up our drinks table!

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  6. We are kindred spirits in the spirit of spirits.

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  7. a jigger is an absolute MUST- One can destroy a party in no time trying to "free pour" drinks and a jigger like yours makes it fun- my favorite is a tacky giant thimble that says"You said a thimble full" the thing that saves it is that it is a souvenir of the Air Force Academy (what?)- Probably from my grandparents frequent trips out west in the '30's and 40's

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes, a "free pour" can have disastrous consequences. And I have seen such a thimble as you describe. In fact, I was the unsuccessful under bidder on a silver one at auction last year.

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  8. Very nice indeed Reggie, however, it would be helpful to have something in the picture to give us a sense of scale.

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    Replies
    1. The first photo is pretty much to scale.

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  9. I love it! I must have one! One more thing for me to be searching for at antique shows!

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  10. I'm waiting for the opportunity to agree with our friend columnist when he says the only decent jigger is the glass itself. (But he won't, being so terribly sensible.)

    I do have some, dating again to the Prohibition years. Also silver, also from from a club, and every one with an obscure inscription. (Which means initials and dates that are meaningless to me.)

    Years ago, when I was a boy, I took them for egg cups. Then late one night, years later, I realized that one side was a shot, the other a pony.

    (By that point, of course, I felt ponies were for kids.)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Dearest Ancient: The amount of time alcohol resides in either a silver jigger or shaker in our house is so momentary that I cannot believe it could possibly compromise the taste of the measured (or shaken) spirits...

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  11. How is it that I can have never even seen one of these beauties before? And here I always thought of my grandparents as serious drinkers. Apparently not.

    I must find one of these ASAP, although I realize that, since we all now know about them, the competition for those that remain will go into overdrive. Oh, well, that will just make the chase more exciting. Wish me luck.

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    1. Simply Grand -- thank you for your comment. Good luck in your hunting!

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  12. I've run into several of these over the years at wildly varying prices, but always with nearly all of the enamel missing (as mentioned by an earlier comment regarding your red). Is this an easy thing to fix? I'd really like one, but have hesitated thinking it would be difficult to correct.

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    Replies
    1. A bit of hobby enamel applied with a brush quickly and easily solves the problem of the missing red, green, or yellow. That is, except if one is Reggie, who has been meaning to paint in the missing enamel on his jigger for several years now and has never been able to get his act together to do so...

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  13. Oh, my dad had one of those jiggers! I wonder if my mom or one of my brothers still has it.

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  14. Reggie, darling, - A treasure is found- a Tiffay silver "oil can" vermouth dopper! Leslie Hindman auction- sale 192-lot171!!!-

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  15. Reggie,
    If you need a worthy recipient for just such a jigger, you need look no further than your Sister who needs something just like it to ration her delicious home flavored gins.
    xox
    Camilla

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