Going out for a cocktail is one of life's greatest little pleasures. You have someone making you a drink, and it comes in one of those fancy-looking glasses. Sure, you can make a cocktail yourself at home, but it just doesn't hit the same — especially when you don't have the right glassware. I mean, martini in a rocks glass? How profane!
Shopping for cocktail glasses can be overwhelming considering just how many styles there are — not to mention how expensive they can get. But the type of glassware you drink out of can truly tie the whole experience together, and it's an important aspect that mixologists consider when constructing a drink.
"Cocktail making, for me, is an art," Chetan Gangan, mixologist at the Indian gastrobar Baar Baar in New York City, says. "Much [research and development] goes into designing a cocktail menu, as each cocktail has different textures, flavors and aromas. It starts with the glass and ends with the garnish — nothing in between should be overlooked."
Of course not every home has enough space for a bunch of cocktail glasses, so whittling down your selection is a must. Think about what cocktails you drink most often, and which glasses have as many uses as possible.
"I think the number one most important thing when choosing glassware for your home is your affinity towards it," Linds Moore, a master mixologist and co-author of Viva Mezcal, says. "You should only own and drink from things you love and find beautiful — or at least love and find hilarious or tolerable, honestly."
Moore further explains that there are a lot of rules out there about what drinks to serve in what cocktail glass. But the most important thing to remember, they say is: "If you enjoy what you're drinking, you'll enjoy it from any glass. If you love the glass, you'll love it even more."
We asked Gangan and Moore to break down seven types of cocktail glasses and what each is good for — plus, we found a few pieces to get your collection started.
The 7 Types of Cocktail Glasses You Should Know
As Moore says, rocks, or old fashioned glasses, "are usually used for spirits on the rocks or neat pours." These are the types of drinking glasses you'll see some snooty old dude drinking from while slinking into a chair, wearing a robe and velvet slippers. They come in a number of shapes and sizes, with a capacity anywhere between six to 10 ounces. As its name suggests, you can drink an old fashioned from this style of glass. Gangan says any "spirits-forward drinks" will work well in a single rocks glass — such as a sazerac or a Negroni — as well as other small-volume cocktails.
Made in collaboration with spirits specialist Zane Harris, these rocks glasses from the luxury glassware brand Riedel are the glasses you'll reach for whether it's time for a dram or an old fashioned. The glass is even ingeniously designed to designate a two-ounce pour.
At about $2.50 a pop, these rocks glasses are affordable and surprisingly nice. They have a nice weight in the hand, plus, they're dishwasher safe and durable for drink after drink.
While on the pricier side, these hand-blown glasses are some of the nicest pieces of drinkware we could find. The subtle hue differentiates these glasses from your typical bargain fare, and they make drinking anything much more enjoyable.
While "double" is in its name, double rocks glasses aren't double the size of single rocks glasses. Instead, double rocks glasses are a couple ounces bigger in capacity, so expect something between 12 to 14 ounces. The extra space means it can fit more, so it may be overkill for a shot or two, but you can get more drink with fewer refills.
If you're tired of the straight-walled rocks glasses, the Wyles adds a bit of flair with its angular shape. There's plenty of space to top off with a 16-ounce capacity, and for those into being matchy-matchy, you can also get this glass in the highball shape.
Always Pan maker Our Place makes some top-notch glasses. These 12-ounce hand-blown glasses are made of recycled glass and sand. They're stackable, so you can save a little bit of cabinet space, and they're available in five beautifully understated colors.
Schott Zwiesel is known for making high-quality glasses, so it's no surprise its whiskey glasses are on this list. As part of the Distil collection, these double rocks glasses have a cut design that's influenced by Scottish history. The crystal is strengthened with titanium so they're extra resistant, and despite their luxury style, they're also dishwasher safe.
"Coupes can be used for all your sour drinks," Gangan says. Coupes are kind of like tiny bowls on a stem. The coupe was originally used as a Champagne glass, except its wide opening didn't lend itself well to the bubbly booze because it allowed the carbonation to fizzle out faster. Moore recommends the coupe for any chilled cocktail that's "not meant to be diluted," as in it's not sitting on ice. Plus, the stem prevents your hand from warming up the drink the same way a wine glass works.
These oversized coupe glasses from Schott Zwiesel have a thin, slender stem, plus a more angular take on the typical bowl-shaped coupe. The glasses are resistant to breaks, scratches and chips, while also being dishwasher safe.
Designed for the bowl to fit perfectly in the palm of your hand, Crate and Barrel's rendition of the coupe is about as classic as it gets. It has a thicker, shorter stem, and it's a bit less prone to toppling over.
Luigi Bormioli is the oldest family-run glass manufacturer from Italy, and these coupe glasses are vintage-inspired as if they came from the same year the company was born. There's something that makes these glasses just look luxurious, and we'll chalk it up to the laser-cut silhouettes.
Collins glasses and highball glasses are technically two different styles of drinkware, but many will use the two interchangeably. The highball is a tall, thin glass, usually between eight to 10 ounces, whereas a Collins glass is slightly taller, with more capacity, say between 12 to 16 ounces. If you have a drink with a large volume that goes over ice, opt for the Collins glass or highball. Moore says it's good for drinks like the Tom Collins (as the name suggests), highballs (another obvious one) and one-on-ones like vodka sodas or gin and tonics.
Each glass from this West Elm collection is unique because they're made by hand by artisans in Mexico. They come in luster, non-luster and amber colorways, with a 13-ounce capacity.
Nude Glass is a drinkware brand to know. The Savage collection, made in collaboration with mixologist Rémy Savage, is all about simplicity. The glasses are made from fine lead-free crystal glass, and its highball glass is as nice to look at as it is to drink from.
Ferm Living's Ripple Long Drink glasses come in at 10 ounces, and they're not your boring old highball glass. The geometric shape of them makes them statement pieces, so much so that you might feel weird drinking out of art. Don't worry about being too delicate around them though as they are durable and dishwasher safe.
Nick and Nora glasses are sort of like a hybrid of coupe glasses and martini glasses, utilizing a stemmed construction with a vessel that looks like a port wine glass. The name comes from the main characters of a 1934 comedy film called The Thin Man, about a heavy-drinking couple who try to find a missing person. The glass itself is good for anything you'd put in a coupe, except they're daintier and slightly more niche. Use these glasses for any spirits-forward drink that you want to serve chilled without ice.
These Nick and Nora glasses are, as Crate and Barrel calls it, "slosh-proof." A common issue with this style of drinking glass is how easy it is to lose some drink going from bar to table, so if you're looking to not make a mess — and look sophisticated while you drink — these glasses are for you.
Made in France, these economical Nick and Nora glasses bring a slight twist to the conventional bowl-shaped design. They're slightly bigger than other Nick and Nora glasses, and they also happen to be dishwasher safe.
Stlzle Lausitz is one of the biggest stemware brands in Germany, and its leading authority in making wine glasses also means they make a mean Nick and Nora glass. What does that even mean? Just drink from one and you'll get it.
The Martini glass, as Gangan says is "the most important since you drink martinis from it!" Joking aside, martinis are hugely popular, and the martini glass is one of the most easy-to-recognize pieces of drinkware. With its V-shaped bowl and thin stem, martini glasses make the perfect vessel for a Cosmopolitan, a Sidecar and, of course, any variety of martini.
Williams Sonoma designed a range of in-house drinkware to meet the demands of a master mixologist or an at-hone martini lover. The Reserve Martini Glass is hand blown from lead-free glass with a seven-ounce capacity for a perfectly filled single serving of martini.
This is just the perfect everyday martini glass. It has a fire-polished rim that lets your drink waterfall into your mouth, and the overall glass is exceptionally clear.
At $2 a glass, the Storsint is a no-brainer if you're looking for good-looking and affordable martini glasses. All you have to think about is whether you want to go dirty or espresso tonight.
Don't just use Champagne glasses for Champage. Gangan recommends the style of drinkware for anything that has you using Champagne in the drink, or some other type of sparkling wine. Need some inspiration? Think the classic mimosa or French 75.
These elegant Champagne glasses are the type of high-end glassware you pull out the same night you pop the cork on a $200 bottle of Champagne. Just drinking some brunch mimosas? These will work just the same.
The Horizon Champagne glass has a nice angular design for a more modern appeal. If you get all the wine glasses from the Horizon collection, you'll have yourself an enviable collection.
Your Champagne glass doesn't need to be pricey. Not only are these glasses from Fortessa extremely nice, but because they're made of break-resistant Tritan crystal, they should also last you quite some time.