Using the right glass for each cocktail is very important. Different glass shapes can help bring out and accentuate certain qualities of a cocktail including the aroma and flavour and having the right size will also ensure that the drinks you’re preparing will fit correctly and not leave you with too much/little liquid.
Bars generally have the luxury of larger budgets than us at home and can afford to buy many different types of glasses (including some pretty exotic ones). These fancy shapes and styles look great but are luckily are not necessary for your home bar.
If you want to make cocktails on a realistic budget you’ll be able to make a huge variety with just the following –
Buy Collins Glasses
A Collins is a tall glass tumbler that usually holds around 300-400ml (10-14oz)– a highball is similar in size but is usually a little taller and more narrow and for home use you can usually interchange the two. An ice filled Collins is the perfect size for the Tom Collins or any of the Collins family of drinks (hence the name) but will also hold the majority of our long cocktails, so named due to the long glass, and also spirit-and-mixer style combinations such as your gin ‘n’ tonics, rum and cokes or whatever your particular drink of choice happens to be.
Example: Tom Collins, Mojito, Cuba Libra
Buy Rocks Glasses
Another glass named after a drink (in the case the amazing Old Fashioned, a definite bartender favourite).
Shorter and wider than a highball or Collins, the shape allows the aroma of the drink to display more than it would in something more narrow.
An Old Fashioned glass is commonly used to serve short drinks ‘on the rocks’, which means alcohol with ice (and gives us the other common name for the glass – Rocks), or neat, where the alcohol is served in the glass without ice, often seen in the case of spirits likewhiskey.
A standard Old Fashioned glass holds between 180-300ml (6-10oz) but it’s also easy to find glasses that are bigger, often between 300-400ml in which case they could actually hold the same amount of liquid as a Collins or Highball glass.
Example: Old Fashioned, Bramble, Whiskey Sour
Buy Shot Glasses
A shot glass is a small glass, usually holding somewhere between 25ml-100ml, that is most commonly used for a single or double measure of alcohol, or shot, often intended to be consumed in one go (like the Tequila/Lime/Salt deal commonly served as a bit of liquid energy in bars around the world.
Example: B52, Tequila Slammer
Buy Martini Glasses
Commonly, and incorrectly (if we are to be technical about it) referred to as a Martini glass after the famous cocktail that is commonly served in it.
The cocktail glass, with its thin stem and delicate bowl, is a great mix of form and function. The stem gives us the ability to hold the glass without transferring our body heat and inadvertently warming the chilled drink inside; the bowl shape allows us to take in the aromatic scents of the spirit, liqueurs and garnishes as we raise it to our mouth.
Early cocktails glasses held around 100ml (3 or 4oz) as drinks served in cocktail glasses are usually served without ice – this small size allowed you to finish your drink while it was still cold. Modern cocktail glasses tend to be larger at around 200ml and most of our recipes reflect this larger sizing – you can use smaller glasses if you have them, but if you follow modern recipes then expect some leftovers.
Example: Dry Martini, Manhattan, Cosmopolitan
Buy Brandy Glasses
The Brandy Balloon, or snifter, is used to serve neat spirits such as brandy or whiskey, and usually holds somewhere between 180-300ml of liquid. We tend not to fill the glass and only put a small amount of liquor in, usually a single or double measure (so around 25-75ml).
The shape, wide at the bottom and more narrow at the top, gives the liquid a larger surface area which allows it to evaporate slightly faster, while the narrow part at the top of the glass works to catch the aroma it gives off. The glass has a stem but this tends to be used for the opposite reason we have a stem in cocktail or wine glasses – with a balloon we actually hold the bottom of the glass, using the heat of our hands to warm the liquor inside the glass which is thought to improve the flavours in some spirits.
Sparkling Wine/Champagne Flute
Buy Champagne Flute Glasses
The sparkling wine glass, or Champagne flute as it tends to be known (remembering that Champagne is a particular type of sparkling wine from France) is used for sparkling wine, sparkling wine cocktails or other drinks that we want to remain nice and fizzy.
The tall, narrow shape of the glass reduces the surface area of the wine and helps it keep its carbonation (the ‘fizzyness’ if you will), and the stem allows the wine to remain nice and cold. A standard flute tends to hold around about 180ml (6oz).
Example: Bellini, French 75, Classic Champagne Cocktail
Buy Wine Glasses
One that you’re likely to have at home already, we also use standard wine glasses for cocktails. As with the cocktail glass and Champagne flute, the stem on the wine glass stops our heat of our hand warming the liquid. Standard wine glasses hold anywhere from around 175-250ml.
Example: Cobbler, Spritzer
That’s it for glassware basics. Let me know if you have any questions or queries and once you’re ready be sure to check out Mixing Cocktails 101 – the guide that explains the methods and reasons behind cocktail mixing methods including shaking, building, stirring and layering.