Many Types of Cocktail Glasses
While you can put a mixed drink into any glass you wish, classic cocktails call for specific types of cocktail glasses for each drink. The various cocktail glasses types may seem to exist only for presentation purposes, but that's only part of the formula. A glass's capacity is important to ensure it's big enough to hold the drink but not so big to overwhelm it, and it needs to be of the right size and shape for garnishes and ice. The glasses may also affect where the cocktail is delivered on your tongue, which influences how you perceive the taste. Likewise, the shape of the glass may also direct the drink's aromas in a specific way to enhance your enjoyment.
The collins glass is one of the most versatile and commonly used cocktail glasses. It's a tall, cylindrical glass tumbler with no taper; the glass is straight up and down along the sides, although some versions have a slight curved bulge in the middle of the glass as a decorative element. A typical collins glass will hold between 10 and 14 ounces of liquid and ice, and it's almost always used for serving drinks on the rocks. Some cocktails that are traditionally served in a collins glass include:
- Tom Collins
- John Collins
- Harvey Wallbanger
- El Diablo
- 7 and 7
- Ramos gin fizz
While the highball glass and collins glass are often used interchangeably, there's actually a difference between these two glasses. The highball is a slightly shorter, slightly squatter version of a collins glass. A highball glass is still tall, cylindrical, and narrow similar to a collins glass, but it's slightly shorter and holds a slightly lower volume of liquid - between 8 and 12 ounces. It may also have a slight taper to the sides. Drinks commonly served in a highball glass include:
- Gin and tonic
- Dark n' stormy
- Tequila sunrise
- Long Island iced tea
- Cuba libre
- Cape Codder
Generally, for a home bar, you can use a highball glass or a collins glass interchangeably so you don't have to keep your cupboards stocked with glassware.
Rounding out the tall, straight glasses is the pint glass. As the name suggests, the pint glass holds about a pint of liquid; typically beer. Pint glasses are tapered outwards to the rim, so they are wider at the rim than the bottom and thus vary in appearance from the straighter form found in a collins or highball glass. Pint glasses hold 16 fluid ounces of liquid, and you will find variations on the shape for different types of beers. Pint glasses are also often included as part of a Boston shaker set, which is the type of cocktail shaker that bartenders use. Drinks you'll find served in a pint glass include:
- Bloody Mary
- Bloody Maria
The hurricane glass is a hybrid between a stemmed glass and a tall glass. Some have longer stems, and some have short stems. The hurricane glass is curvy and fluted, and it's the traditional glass you'll find with a tiki drink in it and an umbrella poking out of the top. A hurricane glass holds about 20 ounces of liquid, and it's used for drinks that are served on the rocks, frozen or blended drinks, or even drinks served up (chilled without ice). If you don't have a hurricane glass, you can substitute either a large capacity wine glass, or any of the other tall glasses such as a pint glass or a collins glass.
Hurricane glasses are commonly used interchangeably with a poco grande glass, which has a similar fluted shape but has a longer stem and a smaller capacity (about 12 ounces). Drinks commonly served in hurricane and/or poco grande glasses include:
A rocks glass is a shorter, squatter version of a collins or highball glass. Generally, rocks glasses are squatty and cylindrical, although you can find tapered version as well. The rocks glass is commonly used for single our double pours of whiskey either neat or on the rock, but it is also used for a number of cocktails served both up and on the rocks. You may also find the rocks glass called an old fashioned glass because it's the glass used to serve the classic whiskey drink, the old fashioned. Alternatively, you may find it called a lowball glass. You'll find two sizes of rocks glasses - a single rocks glass and a double rocks glass. A single rocks glass typically holds between 6 and 10 ounces of liquid, while a double rocks glass will be wider and hold about twice that amount. Drinks commonly served in a rocks our double rocks glass:
A martini glass is a stemmed, tapered glass with a conical shape and a wide rim. A martini glass is designed to serve drinks that are up - chilled by shaking or stirring with ice and then strained into the glass. The glass keeps drinks cold best when you chill it before adding the cocktail, either by sticking it in the freezer or putting ice and water in the bowl as you mix the drink, and then dumping it just before you strain the drink into it. A standard martini glass has a capacity of 3 to 10 ounces. Drinks commonly served in martini glasses include:
Appearance-wise, there's little difference in appearance between a martini and a cocktail glass. They both have a conical shape and wide rim, and they have either a short or a long stem. The primary difference is in capacity: a cocktail glass holds between 6 and 12 ounces of liquid, and it's often used to hold double martinis as well as these other cocktails:
It's not hard to suss out the purpose of a margarita glass: it holds frozen or on the rocks margaritas. Margarita glasses are stemmed and feature a curvy bowl with a wide rim, but rather than a tapered conical shape, they have a stacked rounded shape or a bowl shape. Margarita glasses hold between 6 and 20 ounces (with some mondo glasses holding even more), and they have a thick rim that's sturdy enough for dipping in salt. If you don't have margarita glasses, you can substitute a rocks glass, hurricane glass, poco grande glass, or cocktail glass to serve your margarita.
A coupe is a stemmed cocktail glass with a shallow but wide rounded bowl. You'll sometimes see coupes referred to as a Champagne coupe or a Champagne saucer. And while a coupe is traditionally associated with Champagne, it's fallen out of favor for serving sparkling wine, but it's still popular for other cocktails. A coupe will hold between 5 and 7 ounces of liquid, and it's most commonly used in drinks that are served up. If you don't have a coupe, you can replace it with a cocktail glass. Drinks commonly served in a coupe include:
Shot glasses can do double duty in your drink making and serving. You can use them to create alcohol shots, and, in the absence of a jigger, you can use them for measuring as you mix cocktails, although the measurements will be less precise. Shot glasses come in varying shapes and sizes, and they're also a popular collectible as a souvenir of places you've visited. Shot glasses come in single, double, and even larger, with size capacity ranging from 1½ ounces to about 3 ounces. Drinks in shot glasses are always served up or neat, often without garnish, and are meant to be drunk in a single gulp (although there's nothing wrong with sipping a particularly tasty shot). Some drinks you'll find served in a shot glass:
- Snake bite
- Jager bomb
- Irish car bomb
Wine glasses are stemmed glasses with a slightly tapered and rounded bowl or a tulip shaped bowl. There are various shapes depending on the type of wine you serve in them, but they are designed to deliver the wine to the right spot on your palate and direct the wine's aromas for maximum enjoyment. Wine glasses have a capacity of between 4 and 14 ounces. And while stemmed wine glasses are the most popular, stemless wine glasses are also rising in prevalence. Along with wine, you may find other drinks served in wine glasses, such as:
- Aperol spritz (Spritz Veneziano)
- Wine spritzer
- Amalfi spriz
The Champagne flute is the most common vessel for serving Champagne. Traditionally, it is a stemmed glass with a tall, thin, slightly tapered flute shape. This shape allows the bubbles to rise to the top and tickle your nose. Flutes typically hold about six to seven ounces. Besides Champagne, other drinks served in Champagne flutes include:
Cordial glasses are small capacity, stemmed glasses with a fluted shape. They are designed to hold cordials or liqueurs, and they have a very small capacity of about an ounce and a half. They may look like a mini Champagne flute or wine glass, a stemmed shot glass, or a mini hurricane glass. Drinks served in cordial glasses include:
A Glencairn glass is a whisky glass designed especially for serving Scotch whisky, although it works for other types of whiskey as well. It's a tulip-shaped glass that looks somewhat like a very small, squat hurricane glass, and it's ideal for Scotch because of where it delivers the Scotch on your palate and how it directs the aromas of the Scotch to your nose as you drink it. The capacity of a Glencairn glass is approximately six ounces. It's a must-have for whiskey afficionados, but it also works well for other brown spirits such as añejo tequila or dark rum.
Irish Coffee Mug
Irish coffee mugs are a clear glass mug that's tall and relatively narrow. The clear glass of the mug allows you to see any layers in your beverage, and it's perfect for creating a pretty presentation for all kinds of warm cocktails. The mug's capacity is about 8 ounces. If you don't have an Irish coffee mug, you can serve hot cocktails in any coffee mug. Drinks you'll find served in an Irish coffee mug include:
Mule mugs are copper mugs designed for serving Moscow mules. You'll find them with either rounded sides or straight edges. The copper mugs have a capacity of about between 16 and 20 ounces. The copper mug has been the classic vessel for a mule since the 1940s. When the drink is served in it, the exterior gets frosty, and you hold the mug by its handle. If you don't have a mule mug, you can serve a mule in a traditional highball or collins glass instead. Along with a classic mule, some bartenders like to serve any ginger beer drink in a mule mug, and in a pinch it serves as a great alternative for a mint julep.
Julep cups are traditionally sterling silver or pewter cups. They are designed specifically as the traditional vessel in which to serve a mint julep. Juleps have lots of crushed ice, which frosts the outside of the mug beautifully, making the mint julep an elegant and refreshing drink. Julep cups have a 7 to 10 ounce capacity. If you don't have a julep cup, you can serve your julep in a rocks glass.
A snifter--also called a brandy snifter, brandy glass, or Cognac glass--is a stemmed glass with a balloon-shaped bowl that has a narrower opening at the top than it does at the bottom. The stem is short and squat, and it holds about six to eight ounces. The design is shaped to deliver the aromas of brandy to the nose and the flavors to the right spot on the palate. Drinks served in a snifter include:
While cocktails aren't served in a mixing glass, many of them are mixed and chilled in one. It's the preferred vessel for stirring a and chilling a martini, for instance, and it's also used to mix other drinks that don't require shaking in a shaker. Mixing glasses are tall and broad with a wide opening so you can easily pour drinks and stir them, and when you then strain the drink into a glass, you use a traditional strainer such as a julep strainer or a Hawthorne strainer to hold back the ice and any other solids. Mixing glasses have a capacity of 18 to 20 ounces, enough to mix two cocktails with plenty of ice to chill them.
Specialty Cocktail Glasses
Along with standard cocktail glasses, you'll find a ton of speciality glasses made by different manufacturers such as pilsner glasses, absinthe glasses, grappa glasses, beer mugs, steins, and goblets. For a well-stocked home bar, at minimum you'll want:
- Cocktail glasses
- Red and white wine glasses
- Champange flutes
- Collins glasses
- Rocks glasses
- Mixing glass
- Shot glasses
With a few of each type of the above glasses, you'll be able to make attractive classic and modern cocktails in an appropriate vessel, regardless of what drink you're serving.