Glasses for Cocktails & Wine: What are you Drinking Out of?

Let’s start this by saying that any vessel that gets a drink into my mouth is good enough. However if you feel classy and that gas can or flower vase isn’t cutting it, you may want to use actual glasses. What drinks go in what glasses? What should you be drinking out of if you are drinking a Manhattan? A Margarita? A glass of Champagne? Some weird variation on a Zombie? The glassware makes all the difference, whether you are entertaining at home, serving guests at your bar or participating in that big cocktail competition. We have gone through our glassware cupboard and taken some photos to help you identify what you should be using and when.

Cocktail Glasses | Bartender Atlas

I am not going to lie, I know very little about wine. I do know that different wines from different regions express themselves differently depending on the glassware being used. Generally, keep this in mind: big reds want big glasses and light whites want little glasses… generally. As for sparkling wine, the flute (number two in this line-up) is most common, but I prefer a coupe (number one) because you will get more aroma from the wine and honestly, if the bubbles have all dissipated from the wine by the time you get to the bottom of the glass, you are taking too damn long to drink it.

Cocktail Glasses | Bartender Atlas

Here we have what I like to call (as of now because I had never really thought too much about it before) our “After Dinner Glassware”. The big one here is called a snifter. Traditionally associated with Cognac. Any aged spirit does well in this glass. Next to that is a “Liqueur Glass”. Given the popularity of bitter-but-sugar-heavy Amari amongst bartenders in the last few years, this glass has been getting some use. The third is a shot glass. If you don’t know that one, go back to watching Peppa Pig, you are too young to be here.

Cocktail Glasses | Bartender Atlas

That cute, straight sided, etched crystal glass is the sort of thing you can sip straight spirits from but often it’s called a “Rocks” or “Old Fashioned” glass. This is what any stirred, spirit-forward drink will be served in so long as it is on rocks. Next to that is a traditional Julep Cup. This should have so much crushed ice in it that it sprouts from the top with a fresh mint sprig. The angry looking red face there, that’s a Tiki Mug. What I said about the julep cup and the crushed ice? Same thing here. Besides the fun faces on Tiki Mugs, the fact that you can’t see through them helps to hide the sometimes not-so-pretty colours of tiki drinks. Usually there is a flaming lime shell or more mint and sometimes a backscratcher sticking out the top of this mug.

Cocktail Glasses | Bartender Atlas

How fancy are these? The first one you see is a punch glass. If it looks small, that’s because it is. Punch is strong and small doses are recommended (wink). The three in the middle have started being used for anything called “cocktail”. While at specific times in history, and in specific company, only specific potent potables would find their way into each of these. Right now though, if it looks good and tastes good you should drink from it. The tall straight sided glass is called a Hi-Ball Glass. If a bartender asks if you want your double gin and soda tall, it will arrive in a glass like this.

Cocktail Glasses | Bartender Atlas

Most bartender guides will have a section on glassware. The older you go, the more specific they get. This image is from Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide. See how many Punch Glasses there are? This is, if nothing else, something to remember when worrying about glassware. You can put any drink in any glass, as long as you promise to drink from it afterwards. And remember, if you are going to put a cocktail into whatever you decide is a cocktail glass, make sure your glass is cold.


Josh Lindley
Co-Creator at Bartender Atlas
Josh Lindley has been bartending in Toronto since 2007. In that time he has watched the city grow from drinking slushee Cosmopolitans into crisp creations made from locally grown ingredients. He still likes beer though. Before working for Hendrick's Gin as a Brand Ambassador he was bar manager at Campagnolo and a hired gun at Bar Isabel. He has contributed to many magazines, tv shows and newspapers with his recipes and opinions. Currently pouring at Chantecler, he enjoys being an ambassador to Toronto and talking about horror movies and music.
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