Which Glass For Which Cocktail?

Chris Horton
August 13, 2021 0 Comment

Have you ever taken a look at the variety of glassware at your local Crate & Barrel store? Even for a seasoned boozer, the variety of glasses on display is overwhelming.

There’s no need to be stressed. A few pieces will suffice to make almost any cocktail that you may want.

This entry will focus on three types of glassware.

  • Glasses for Stemmed or Up
  • Glasses made of rocks or old-fashioned glasses
  • Chimney-style glasses, also known as Collins or highball glasses

These and set champagne flutes (which most likely you already own), should suffice for almost any cocktail. These, along with a set of champagne flutes (which you already have, right?), should be sufficient for almost any cocktail. I will return to this topic in a future entry and offer suggestions for other pieces to complement the basic ingredients.

Martini Glasses and Coupes

The martini glass, or as it’s better known the cocktail stirrers. It’s the bar symbol most people associate with the best. You can see it on many neon signs in older bars.

This is a quick rule of thumb to help you choose glassware for your drink. Stemmed glass is also known as an up glass. If you are serving a shaken drink or stirred drink without ice, The stem raises the bowl of your glass out of your hands. Warm the glass. Take the stem of the glass and hold it by your lips.

Drinks that are best served in stem glasses include:

  • Martini
  • Manhattan
  • Brooklyn
  • Daiquiri
  • Sidecar
  • Aviation

The elegant, iconic V-glass does have a downside. It is easy to tip your head. The coupe glass is its less-known cousin.

Although the coupe was originally intended to be a champagne glass it is now not suitable for champagne. Because of its shape, most of the sparkling water evaporates before it reaches the mouth. ButThe coupe can be used to hold cocktails very well!

Both are my favorites. The V-shaped cocktail glasses are reserved for the drink it is most well-known for, the martini. Sidecars, Manhattans and daiquiris can all go in a coupe.

Rocks Glass – An Old Fashioned Way to Get It Done

The old-fashioned, or rocks, glass is named for the most renowned drink served therein: the old-fashioned cocktail. It is simple. There are two types of old fashioned glasses. A triple-old-fashioned glass is also available and is mostly used in tiki bars.

The glass’s size does not indicate its capacity. Traditional old-fashioned glasses can hold 6-8 ounces while doubles can hold 12-14 ounces.

For drinks that are built-in glasses, you can use an old-fashioned glass. This means that you don’t need a cocktail shaker to “build” a cocktail. You mix it in the same glass you are serving it in, usually on ice.

You can “build” an old-fashioned by adding sugar, bitters, still water and a little bit of citrus peel. Mix it until all the sugar is dissolved and the citrus oils are incorporated into the sugary mixture. Mix in whiskey and ice. Stir until chilled.

Old-fashioned glasses are great for cocktails

  • Old Fashioned
  • Negroni (when served on ice instead of straight up)
  • Mint Julep (unless you’re fancy and have a metal julep cup)
  • Sazerac (traditionally served sans ice. Why are they not served in glasses? You have a great question.

The traditional old fashioned called for a two-ounce whiskey pour. This is why the smaller glass. The old fashioned, like many other American cultural items, is now three ounces or, if you’re like me, four ounces. But I’m a lush.

It is harder to find original-sized glasses that are smaller than double old-fashioned. It is worth buying a reasonable-sized double old fashioned. Later, if you are looking for more variety or want to make smaller cocktails, you will be able to hunt down the smaller glasses.

The Highball Glass

There are many names for the chimney-style glass: The highball, the Collins, and the Delmonico. Each glass type has a different shape and canister but retains the basic chimney shape. At 5-8 ounces, the Delmonico chimney style is the smallest. The highball rings weigh in at around 8-12 ounces and the Collins weighs in at 12-16. Each style was used to make a different type of cocktail. Bartenders still insist on serving Tom Collins in Collins glasses, but a gin fizz and highball in Collins glasses. These distinctions are not necessary for home use.

When you want to sip something cold and refreshing, a highball glass is the best choice. Highballs are great for cocktails (and other drinks):

  • Gin Fizz
  • Gin Rickey
  • Gimlet
  • Gin and Tonic (and, indeed, any x-and-y: scotch and soda, bourbon and ginger, etc.)
  • Highball glasses can be found easily. You should look for something that is small and comfortable to hold in your hand.

Although smaller is better (though it’s harder to find),

You might be struck by one thing when you shop for cocktail glasses. They are all too big. Williams-Sonoma and C&B are the main retailers of stemmed glasses. Their double old-fashioned glasses can hold 14 ounces, and highballs can hold up to 20.

But if you look at the recipes here on Serious Eats–the Revolver, for example–you’ll see they call for 2 to 3 ounces of liquid.

Serious Eats’ cocktail team follows a well-known motto. It was attributed to Harry Craddock of the American Bar in London, author of the Savoy Cocktail Book: “The best way to drink a cocktail is to do it quickly while it’s still laughing.” It’s easy to see the disadvantages of large cocktails:

A large cocktail can get warm in the glass before you finish it unless the drink is gulped down.
It is easier to indulge in a large cocktail, especially if it’s alcoholic.

The following capacities are recommended for most of the cocktails we feature on Serious Eats:

  • V or coupe glass: 5-7 ounces
  • Old-fashioned: 6-8 ounces; double: 12-14 ounces
  • Highball: 10-16 ounces