How to Chill a Glass or Warm a Mug for the Perfect Cocktail

If you've ever taken a sip of a warm Coke, then you know that temperature matters for drinks. Here's how to keep your cocktails the perfect temperature.

Published September 19, 2023
scooping ice into a cocktail glass

There's so much more to cocktails than the ingredients, just like there's more to an outfit than the clothes you're wearing. What perfume is to an outfit, a chilled or warmed glass is to a cocktail. Is it just as great without it, of course. But with it? It's complete and perfect.

It's time to chill out and warm up those cocktail glasses. 

Why You Should Chill a Cocktail Glass

Chilling a martini, coupe, or Champagne flute is an important step in keeping your cocktails cold. After all, there’s no ice to keep the drinks you serve in stemmed glasses cold. So chilling your glass any of the following ways will help to keep your drink colder for longer. This doesn't apply as much to highball glasses, but it is a good idea to chill your shot glasses, too. 

Think of it this way. If you put an ice cube on a room-temperature plate, it's going to melt more quickly than if you put an ice cube on a plate that's been in the refrigerator or freezer. And you can say the same for drinks. You’ve spent the time shaking or stirring them to make them nice and cold, so it makes sense that you’d want your drink to stay chilled for as long as possible. 

How to Chill Your Cocktail Glass With Ice

martini glass with ice

Regardless of the spirit, anything served in stemmed glassware deserves a good chilling.

  1. Using a clean martini glass or coupe, fill it to the brim with crushed or cracked ice.
  2. While the glass is chilling, prepare your drink.
  3. Once you're done stirring or shaking your martini-style cocktail, dump out the ice and strain your chilled ingredients into your chilled glass. 
Helpful Hack

Chill the glass even more by placing the ice-filled glass into the freezer or refrigerator while you're making the drink. Another bartender hack is to add a splash of soda water after you fill the glass with ice to speed things up. 

If you do want to chill your highball glass or other similar styles, fill those to the brim with ice and follow the same guidelines. And prepare for a chilly, chilly Collins glass. 

How to Chill Your Cocktail Glass in the Freezer

You'll need to plan ahead or keep your stock of glassware in the freezer so you don't need to watch the clock, waiting for your 'tini time. Like so many pilsner glasses in garage freezers, you can keep your coupe, martini, and Champagne flutes in the freezer too. That way, they’re always cold and always ready to go. 

No space in your freezer? Place the glasses into the coldest spot in your refrigerator instead. You’ll need at least an hour to chill them, but you can store those glasses in there too. 

Quick Tip

Don't freeze your grandma's crystal. It's oh-so delicate and can easily shatter if the temperature changes too quickly. Opt to cool them in the refrigerator instead, and make sure your ingredients are nice and cold before straining into the glass. 

Why You Should Warm Your Cocktail Mug

You know when you're absolutely freezing from shoveling your driveway and then sitting in a cold car while it warms up and you warm up by half a degree every five minutes? Your car is the mug and you are the cocktail. You'd be much happier hopping into a warm car, and your hot cocktail will be all the better served in a warm mug. 

How to Warm Your Mug

No, you're not going to keep heat-safe glassware at the ready in the oven or even microwave empty mugs. Boil water in a teakettle or heat water in a microwave-safe dish. Then carefully pour the steaming water into the mug and allow it to warm up while you make the hot cocktail, such as a hot toddy or an Irish coffee

pouring hot water into a mug

Take care not to pour the hot water into a cold glass, and be sure you're using a heat-resistant mug.

Remember grandma's crystal glassware? If she has crystal mugs, don't use those. But that office mug you stole six years ago that's indestructible? Go right ahead. You can even purchase cocktail mugs that can withstand the heat. 

Frosty, Toasty, Perfect

Some say cocktails should be hot like fire, and some say cold like ice. I’ve sipped heartily of both, and I say, chill your glassware and warm up your mugs. In the words of Robert Frost, “that’d be great and only a prepared cocktail glass would suffice.” Or maybe that’s another poem.  

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How to Chill a Glass or Warm a Mug for the Perfect Cocktail