Essential bar glassware
July 14, 2012 11:25 PM   Subscribe

What are the core essential pieces of glassware for mixing drinks?

I have a pretty well-stocked bar at home from an ingredient standpoint, but my glassware is in need of a serious overhaul. I've been known to serve a drink in anything from a pint glass to a coffee mug. I have to admit, I'm pretty ignorant as to the "proper" glasses to use for different drinks, or even what the different glass names (highball, collins, double old fashioned, rocks, etc.) truly mean.

What are the real essential bar glasses, and what actually defines that particular glass (in terms of shape and size)?

Note, I already have an array of quality wine glasses, so I'm pretty set there. I'm just looking for glasses for mixed drinks.
posted by primethyme to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Pint Glass - for ales and lagers and the like. Looks... like a pint glass?

Tulip Glass - if you're a big fan of Belgian beers. It's sort of shaped like a big goblet or brandy snifter, with a short stem, a wide base, and a narrower mouth.

Red Wine Glass - stemmed with wide base and wide mouth

White Wine Glass - typically narrower than a red wine glass

Champagne Flute - even narrower than the white wine glass

Rocks Glass - short, perfectly sized for whiskey on the rocks or other liquors served neat. I sometimes see cocktails served in these, too.

High-ball Glass, if you do a lot of "long drink" style cocktails - for example a rum & coke, screw-driver, mojito, etc.

If you're into martinis and manhattans and the like, you'll also want martini glasses. Ditto for margaritas and their special glassware if you make that stuff a lot. If there's some special cocktail you especially enjoy, look up what type of glassware it calls for and keep those around. Also, if you like brandy, get some snifters, if you like liqueurs or port, get some cordial glasses, etc. But none of this stuff is absolutely vital unless you like making the drink in question. Most things can be drunk out of a pint glass, wine glass, rocks glass, or high-ball glass if necessary.
posted by Sara C. at 12:24 AM on July 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yup. Sara C. just covered it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:14 AM on July 15, 2012

Best answer: You can cover most situations with:
  • Old fashioned glass (aka rocks glass): flat-bottomed, short and wide. Good for plain spirits neat or on the rocks, Old Fashioneds, Vieux Carrés, etc.
  • Collins glass: flat-bottomed, tall and thin; the highball glass is shorter and wider than Collins but taller and thinner than the old fashioned glass. Often used with drinks with crushed ice, the namesake Tom Collins, Bloody Marys, sours, French 75s, etc.
  • Cocktail glass: often called a Martini glass, stemmed with a wide mouth and sloped sides. This is the real workhorse, as most cocktails go into these: Manhattans and its variants, Martinis and variants, Negronis, crustas, Sidecars, and many more.
It's fashionable these days to serve Manhattan/Martini type drinks in Champagne coupes, so you can sub those for cocktail glasses if you'd like. I like the coupes, personally.

A few cocktails can be served in Champagne flutes, but they're less common (mimosa, death in the afternoon) and could probably be covered by Collins glasses.

You should look over the list here and check the cocktails in your repertoire for the proper glassware; Drinkboy is one of the be-all-end-all references for this sort of thing.

Remember, though: these are guidelines, not rules. As long as the presentation is good, with garnishes and such, glasses can be interchanged. Plenty of places get away with serving Manhattans or Negronis in old fashioned glasses and Vieux Carrés in coupes and it's just fine. I'd steer clear of the pint glasses and coffee mugs, though!
posted by The Michael The at 5:41 AM on July 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oops, forgot a link: You should look over the list here and check the cocktails in your repertoire for the proper glassware; Drinkboy is one of the be-all-end-all references for this sort of thing.
posted by The Michael The at 5:42 AM on July 15, 2012

And a 16oz mixer glass to use with your shaker.
posted by bz at 10:05 AM on July 15, 2012

One thing to keep in mind is that most of the martini-style glasses you see at big box retailers are the oversized ones.

Old-school drink recipes are written towards the traditional-sized cocktail glasses that are 5ish ounces. The martini glasses you see Super Top Shelf King El Presidente Frozen Strawberry Chocolate Blueberry Plastic Shaker OMG Martini served in at the chain restaurant is closer to 10 ounces.

This article explains in a ton of detail why bigger isn't better.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 1:53 PM on July 15, 2012

Also: shotglasses. You have to buy them in person, because they should be thick and heavy as those are much more satisfying to put down heavily immediately afterwards. There are thin ones with delicate glass but you want the kind Al Swearengen would use.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:44 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Best Practices for Ending it with Therapist   |   Help me find a really long rage comic Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.