There are many styles of glassware available at the bar, and each one is suitable for specific drinks. There’s a glass for every taste, whether you need a tall, short or casual cocktail.
Hot cocktails, martinis, and margaritas all have their own glasses. Beer, wine, and certain liquors also have their own glasses. A few glasses are essential for a bar that is well-stocked. Others are nice to have.
You don’t have to use every kind of glassware in order to make great cocktails at your home. Most cocktail recipes suggest a glass but it’s not a requirement. An old-fashioned, or wine glass, can be used as a substitute for martinis if you don’t drink them often. You will probably only need one type of tall glass. Choose from a highball or collins, or use a pint or Mason jar.
The familiar conical shape of the cocktail glass makes most people think of a martini. It is the most widely consumed drink in this glass, which is why it is often called a “martini”.
Cocktail glasses are used for drinks between 3 and 6 ounces that are most often served “up” without ice. You can enjoy a wide range of martini-style cocktails like the Cosmopolitan, as well as many classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and the sidecar. Cocktail glasses can also be used as an alternative to margarita glasses.
There are many styles of cocktail glasses, including frosted, painted, and fun stems. Although stemless cocktails glasses are quite common, they serve a purpose. The stem allows the drinker to hold the glass without heating it with their body heat. This is important to keep non-iced drinks chilled for longer periods.
Vintage cocktail glasses are smaller than modern alternatives, with a few reaching 10 ounces. These extra-large glasses not only take up more shelf space but are also less useful. Drinks served in cocktail glasses are mainly liquor. These strong drinks often weigh 3 to 5 ounces.
Keep your cocktail glasses under 6 ounces. Any extra space gives you some splash protection while carrying them around.
Colins and highball glasses (or highball) are very similar. These glasses can be interchanged for tall drinks. They also hold the same volume but can hold anywhere from 8 to 16 ounces.
It can be hard to tell the difference between identical shapes.
- The collins glasses tend to be taller than the others, and more like a chimney shape.
- The highball is usually more robust and weighs in at around 10 ounces.
- Tall glasses are very useful and essential for any bar. They’re used for tall mixed drinks (also called highballs) that can be as simple as a shot of liquor topped with juice or soda.
- Quite often, the drinks are built directly in the glass by pouring the ingredients over ice and stirring to mix. Highballs are also great for everyday drinks like soda, juice, or iced tea.
These glasses are large enough to hold 10 ounces of liquid, despite the volume. The glass is meant to be filled almost to the top with ice. This allows tall drinks such as the Tom Collins or bloody Mary to remain cold while you are drinking. The slower the ice melts, the more time you can enjoy semi-undiluted cocktails.
An old-fashioned glass is a small tumbler with a thick bottom. You can also call it a “rocks” or “lowball” glass. It is used to make short mixed drinks, including the old-fashioned. However, not all lowball cocktails require ice.
Old-fashioned glasses can hold 6-8 ounces. You can also get them as double old-fashioned or double rocks, which hold up to 10 or 12-ounces.
The smaller glasses are used for drinks such as the rusty nails. However, they can also be used to pour liquor dispenser straight or in a neat manner. Typically, whiskey is the preferred spirit. A larger glass can be used to serve a mixed drink such as the white Russian, or just one large ice cube. These glasses can be used to make martini-style cocktails with or without ice.
You can easily handle most cocktails with a pair of highball and old-fashioned glasses. This duo is ideal for minimalist bars with limited storage.
The shot glass is an iconic glass in bars. You can find them in many sizes, shapes, and styles. They are also fun to collect. A shot glass can be used to hold straight shots or mixed shots. It can also serve as a measuring cup for the preparation of drinks. Always keep a few spares in case something happens.
A typical shot weighs 1 1/2 ounces, while a “short”, or “pony” shot weighs just 1 ounce. Some shot glasses can hold up to 2 ounces.
A typical shot glass is made from thicker glass, especially on the base. This is to ensure that the glass does not shatter when the drinker smashes it onto the bar after finishing their drink.
The most popular shot glasses are short, stout ones. These glasses are great for straight shots of liquor, or shots that have been shaken and strained. Tall, thinner shot glasses are perfect for showing off the colors of layered shots like the B-52. The Caballito, which is the tallest and thinnest of the shot glasses, was made for tequila. These glasses are perfect for a line-up of glasses, which is a way to compare liquors in a tequila tasting or whiskey tasting.
Even shot glasses with thick bottoms can look large, but they can also be misleading. A shot glass can look larger but hold the same amount of liquid as a smaller one. Also common among beer mugs, it’s a trick some bars use to reduce pour cost and serve less alcohol to unsuspecting drinkers.
The margarita glass is used primarily for serving margaritas. The double-bowl is a fun and distinctive shape that works particularly well for frozen margaritas. The wide rim makes it easy to add a salt or sugar rim. It’s festive but not essential stemware. Margaritas can be served in any glass, including a highball, cocktail, or old-fashioned.
Margarita glasses are available in many sizes, from 6 to 20 ounces.
- For drinks that don’t require ice, the smaller glasses are ideal.
- Medium glasses are great for frozen drinks.
- Large bowls can be used to make large frozen drinks, or for those that have a lot of ice.
- Some margarita bowls reach ridiculous sizes, reaching 60 ounces. These are only good for sharing with friends, and each with their own straw.
If you enjoy a Champagne cocktail every once in a while, then a set of Champagne glasses would be a nice investment. There are many options. It is often best to purchase a set of 4 or 8 glasses, depending on the size of your average Champagne-worthy celebrations.
This tall, thin glass features a tapered rim to preserve Champagne’s bubbles longer. Flutes usually hold 7 to 11 ounces.
Champagne flutes can be used to showcase a garnish. The glass looks amazing when it is surrounded by a long lemon twist. This makes the simple additions of one berry garnish look elegant. The fizzy fountain of the traditional Champagne cocktail is spectacular in a flute.
Champagne tulip is a stylish glass. The flute has a longer stem and bowl, but the rim flares out rather than in. Although it won’t trap bubbles, this design is great for mixing Champagne with other sparkling wines.
Champagne saucers are also known as coupe glasses. With a flatter, rounder bowl, it is a more traditional glass design for serving sparkling wines. It can hold 6-8 ounces.
Saucers can be used to serve champagne to several guests. They also add a vintage twist to drinks that you would serve in a cocktail glass and are a perfect choice when you want to float a larger slice of fruit on top of the drink.
Wine glasses are complicated because there are a variety of shapes and many styles have been developed to showcase a particular style of wine. There are two types of wine glasses.
White wine glasses have a narrower, taller, and wider bowl which is more open at its rim.
Red wine glasses have a smaller, rounder bowl and a broader rim.
Wine glasses were traditionally steamed. However, stemless glasses are becoming more popular. Just like cocktail glasses, the stem is designed to keep the wine at proper serving temperature without influence from the drinker’s body heat.
Over the years, wine glasses have grown in size. They can hold between 8 and 22 ounces. However, 5 ounces is the standard serving size so they don’t fill to the rim.
A wine glass of any style is perfect for serving wine cocktails. White wine glasses are best for those with ice. Stemless glasses are perfect for punch and heavily garnished drinks like sangria.
Just like wine, beer has its own set of glassware and certain styles of beer are preferred in particular glasses. There are three glasses that almost any beer can be served in; they’re used interchangeably and are good for mixing beer drinks.
A basic pint cup is a tall, straight-sided, tapered glass. Basic pint glass holds 16 ounces of beer. Pint glasses can be chilled in the freezer and instantly bring warm beer down to a cold temperature suitable for drinking. A workhorse in the bar, this glass also doubles as a mixing glass for cocktails and can be used in a Boston shaker set.
Pilsner glasses usually hold between 10 to 14 ounces. The fluted shape (which can be more or less exaggerated) is used most often for lagers, and almost exclusively when pouring a pilsner, and the wider rim allows for a good head.
Mugs are great because they allow you to keep your beer cold without heating it. They can also take a heavy hit from the top of a bar. Perfect for the average lager, frosted beer mugs are commonly used in bars.
There will be a wide range of beer mug volumes. Most mugs will hold between 10-14 ounces. Mugs with thicker bases can only hold 10 ounces. These smaller bottles may be found at bars as they allow for a shorter pour. You can get more beer if you don’t care whether it’s a draught or not by ordering a bottle.
If you enjoy ales, there are two glasses worth considering. The styles show the beer’s head, color, and shape while the bulbous shape captures the complex aroma. These beers are best enjoyed at cellar temperatures (around 50° Fahrenheit).
- Nonic pint glasses are similar to standard pints but have an aroma bulb at the top. It can also be used with lagers.
- Traditional among tulip glasses is the stemmed one. Belgian ales have a large bowl with a tapering edge towards the rim.
There are a few tall, specialty styles of bar glassware that you’ll find in cocktails recipes. Each glass is designed to be used with a particular style of drink. They aren’t used as often as other glasses but they can be useful if you like any of these cocktails.
A footed Irish coffee glass is one with a handle. It’s used for hot drinks, and traditionally, Irish coffee. It is made from thick, heat-resistant glass that holds between 8-10 ounces.
This glass’ distinctive pear-shaped curve is reminiscent of vintage hurricane lamps. It holds between 10-12 ounces and is often used to make the hurricane cocktail, pina Coladas, and other frozen drinks.
As the name implies, this glass is used for brandy, particularly when sipping it straight. It is quite large, but only about 2 ounces of standard brandy go inside. The idea behind the snifter is to allow the drinker to enjoy all of the aspects of brandy: Watch it swirl inside, notice its legs and color, take in the aromas trapped in the bowl, and slowly take a sip. The snifter is also used for a few simple drinks, most notably the aromatic B&B.
Small brandy glasses are a great way to save space and still enjoy brandy. These glasses have a similar bowl shape to a snifter and a taller stem. They hold approximately 6 ounces.
Although they are rare, there are many specialty pieces of stemware that can be used to make certain cocktails or liqueurs.
A sour glass can be described as a miniature version of a white wine glasses. Used for the whiskey sour and other simple but flavorful cocktails, this glass is made to enjoy small drinks. It can hold between 3 and 6 ounces.
These tiny glasses are a traditional way to sip cordials (or liqueurs) straight and are not very common today. These glasses are small and hold only 2 to 3 ounces. They’re fun to collect if your passion is vintage glassware.
There are many styles of cordial glasses. Some are tulip-shaped, while others are more like sour glasses. Some spirits also have their own stemware.
- Genever is typically served in a small tulip glass. This is the perfect glass for the Dutch custom of drinking genever. Place the glass on the bar, fill it to the rim with ice-cold genever, and then lean back and take a long, often loud, sip from the top.
- Grappa glasses have a round bowl at the bottom and a thin tapered rim.
- Schnapps may be served in a stemmed glass similar to the sour that abruptly flares out at the rim.
- Fortified wines, including sherry and port, are enjoyed straight in small stemware similar to a white wine glass.