Alcoholic spirits measure

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Optic Pearl alcoholic spirits measure

Alcoholic spirits measures are instruments designed to measure exact amounts or shots of alcoholic spirits.

The most common products used today to measure spirits are the thimble measure and the non-drip measure, often referred to as an optic. The terms Optic, Optic Pearl, OpticJade and OpticOpal are all trademarks of Gaskell & Chambers owned by the company IMI Cornelius (UK) Ltd,[1] but the word “optic” has become synonymous with inverted or non-drip spirit measures.

The optic or non-drip measure is mounted beneath an inverted spirit bottle, whereby the alcohol dispenses into the measure and is discharged when a lever on the measure is pushed up. This mechanism ensures that a correct spirit measure can be dispensed each time, as the inverted bottle allows the measure to be replenished in the optic after each shot has been dispensed. Bottles are available to the trade with their labels upside down so that they will be the right way up when mounted on the optic.

The thimble measure is a stainless steel vessel, like a shot glass, predominantly used as a measurement with free flow pourers.

Free-flow pour spout[edit]

Common in U.S. bars, these devices consist of a simple metal or plastic tube embedded in a bottle stopper, designed to replace the cap or cork on a bottle of liquor. The tube is often calibrated to allow a flow of 1 fluid ounce per second, so that a bartender can measure shots of liquor or portions for cocktails without needing to use a jigger or other measuring device.[2]

Measured pour spout[edit]

Common in U.S. bars, these devices appear visually to be the same as a free-flow pour spout, but have an internal mechanism to block the tube after a pre-defined and calibrated volume of liquid has passed, oftentimes a set of 2 or 3 balls. Because of the geometry, the bottle with one of these spouts needs to be held at a specific angle, typically 45 degrees, otherwise the volume poured will be under or over the stated calibration.

Ball-measuring cap[edit]

Common in France, where it is called a bouchon doseur boule, this device consists of a transparent T-shaped glass tube arrangement,[3] with a ball on one end of the horizontal section, a cap or cork on the other end, and a cork or plastic bottle stopper on the bottom of the T, allowing the measure to replace the cap of a liquor bottle. In use, the bottle is inverted until the ball fills with liquor, and then tilted in the other direction to let the liquor pour out the spout in a manner that keeps additional liquor entering the measure from the bottle. A promotional video available on YouTube includes a cutaway rendered animation beginning at 2:15 that demonstrates the 3-ball mechanical arrangement.[4]

United Kingdom[edit]

The Weights and Measures Act of 1963 made it illegal in Britain for businesses to give short weights or short measures to consumers. Before this there was no legislation, only guidelines as to the correct weight of an alcoholic spirit measure, and if spirit measures or optics were used, they required a government stamp to certify that the measure was accurate.

The 1963 Act formalized the legal measures by which spirits and other alcoholic beverages should be dispensed, namely 1/4 gill (35.5 ml), 1/5 gill (28.4 ml) or 1/6 gill (23.7 ml), but this was replaced in 1985 by 25ml and 35ml for single measures, with double measures of 50ml or 70ml being permitted in 2001. Landlords have the option to decide which quantities they sell, with the difference being caused by historically larger measures being used in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Thimble measures are also used in 175ml and 250ml volumes for measuring wine. Although government stamped for the correct volume, the thimble measure does rely on the user measuring the spirit out manually into the thimble.


  1. ^ Cornelius Retrieved 25 March 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Pourers". September 4, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Doseur boule verre Ricard bleu et rouge". 
  4. ^ "Precision Pours 3 Ball Liquor Pour". Jul 15, 2009. Retrieved 2016-09-28.