Having a well-stocked, built-out bar is a rite of passage for adulthood. Not only does having a complete bar require possessing the right bottles of spirits, but it also means that you’re going to need the proper glasses for enjoying said spirits. While it may seem like overkill, the shape and variety of a cocktail glass greatly influence the user’s tasting experience. So, if you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on the good stuff, you best have the proper vessels in which to drink it so you can enjoy it properly. That’s why we’ve come up with this guide for the essential types of cocktail glasses for your home bar.
Cocktail glasses are primarily designed for insulation purposes and to capture the necessary aromas of a drink. Given the wide variety of cocktails out there (trust us, there are too many to count) you’re going to need a wide variety of glasses in which to serve them. While we’re not going to list every purpose-built glass in existence, we have curated a list of thirteen essential glasses that will empower you to serve and enjoy virtually any libation under the sun. It may seem like a lot, but if you follow this guide, these glasses will elevate you from budding mixologist to host with the most.
Gettin' Bubbly With It
As the name suggests, champagne flutes are primarily used for champagne, although you can also use them for mimosas and other effervescent drinks. The main reason you want to use a champagne flute over say, a wine glass, comes down to the surface area of the glass’s opening, or in this case, the lack thereof. Due to the narrow opening of the glass and the elongated bowl of the champagne flute, the bubbles in champagne have ample time to travel through the liquid and pile on each other, creating a better texture for taste. A bigger opening and a shallower glass for your bubbly would cause it to fizz out quickly and become flat, which is definitely something you want to avoid.
Elixir Champagne Flutes
Elixir offers a no-frills, handsome-looking set of handblown champagne flutes. They feature a pure crystal construction, an 8oz capacity, and an exceptionally clear design. If you’re looking for a great starter set of champagne flutes, you can’t go wrong with these.
NUDE Stem Zero Flute Champagne Glass
NUDE has a fantastic reputation for its glassware and its iconic-looking champagne flutes are proof of its excellence. Its stellar quality is on full display with the pure crystal Stem Zeroes, which sport a tapered silhouette to minimize the brim’s surface area and keep your bubbly bubbling.
Collins or Highball Glasses
Extra Height For Extra Ice
Yes, technically a Collins glass and a highball glass are two different glasses (with highballs being slightly shorter and fatter), but they’re often used interchangeably and in this case, they serve the same purpose. These tall, skinny glasses are best for serving drinks that call for a lot of ice — like highballs or a Tom Collins, naturally. Due to their tall, cylindrical shape, they’re ideal to keep drinks cold and well-carbonated, assuming you’re using an effervescent beverage in them.
Schott Zwiesel Glas Bar Glass Set
Since 1872, Schott Zwiesel has been making wonderful glassware. These clean-looking, mid-century-adjacent Collins glasses are part of Zweisel’s geometric-themed Modo Collection. Even better, they’re made of super-durable triton crystal glass, a lead-free mix of titanium and zirconium for added durability and strength.
Kimura Glass Kikatsu Tumbler
Believe it or not, Japan is famous for its glassware, particularly its highball glasses. This stunning offering features a soda glass construction and elegant yet minimalist line patterns. Its beauty, durability, and quality show why Kimura is held in such high esteem as a glassmaker.
For Anything Served 'Up'
Coupe glasses are perfect for sour drinks or really any cocktail that you want to serve “up.” These are drinks that are shaken or stirred with ice but not served with ice so as not to further dilute them. Moreover, the coupe’s stem makes it so you won’t heat the cocktail with your hand while holding it. You’ll see champagne served in these a good amount, but due to their wide opening and short depth, they actually cause it to go flat fairly quickly.
Luminarc Coupe Glasses
Luminarc is a trusted brand that makes quality glassware. Its coupe glasses have a more masculine edge to them, which brings a nice change of aesthetic to glasses that are all too often overly dainty. These glasses are made out of 100% glass and have a sturdy stem for easy holding.
NUDE Savage Coupe Glass
A company so nice, we had to include them twice. NUDE’s coupes are arguably its best product, which is saying a lot. They have the perfect, elegant silhouette, a wide bowl, and an elongated stem that adds to this stunning product’s sophistication. At $35 a pair, these glasses are phenomenally priced.
Double Rocks Glasses
When One Rock Just Isn't Enough
Also called the “double old fashioned glass,” double rocks glasses are the larger counterpart to the single rocks glass (more on that later). These glasses will cover most of your cocktail needs and are best for spirit-forward drinks. Their increased size allows you to have mixed cocktails in the glass itself, rather than a shaker so you don’t dilute the spirit inside it. Despite their name, they actually aren’t twice as big as single rocks glasses, just a couple of ounces higher in volume.
Luigi Bormioli Double Old Fashioned Glasses
If you’re looking for a hardy, durable glass with a timeless design to it, then Luigi Bormioli is the glassmaker for you. His double rocks glasses are as gorgeous as they are tough, which never hurts when buying glassware. They’re made of pure crystal and sport reinforced and laser-cut rims for a smooth and precise edge.
Scully & Scully Baccarat Nancy
Scully & Scully is a glassware institution, and its famous Baccarat Nancy glasses are simply magnificent. These glasses are like art you can drink from, featuring intricate lattice patterns and crystal construction that gleams in the light. Aside from looking wonderful, the textured diamond-cut pattern allows for better gripping. You cannot go wrong with these glasses.
Glencairn or Whisky Glasses
For All Your Finest Browns
Glencairn glasses and similar whisky glasses are perfect for fine whisky (particularly scotch), premium tequila, brandy, and cognac. Due to its unique shape, the Glencairn glass captures all the necessary aromas of your high-quality brown spirits. Like most purpose-built glasses, the Glencairn is engineered for the almighty purpose of controlling aroma and taste to tailor the drinking experience as far in favor of the spirit you’re drinking as possible. Furthermore, its shape is perfect for novice tasters to swirl their spirits when tasting them.
Glencairn Whisky Glass
This brand, Glencairn Crystal, literally created this glass in 2001. Not only is it the most innovative glass on the list, but it’s one of the most essential for any whisky aficionado. This glass is so popular that it is literally called the official whisky glass. This glass is tailor-made for tasting and enjoying spirits.
Sakura-Yuki Nosing Tumbler
It may not have the innovation of the Glencairn, but the Nosing Tumblr from Sakura-Yuki is the ultimate balance of form and function. Much like the Glencairn glass, this tumbler has a short, thick bottom and a tapered top that’s perfect for enjoying spirits. Moreover, it has a crystal glass construction that’s lightweight yet durable and a swirl pattern that’s hypnotic and stunning to look at.
Shaken Or Stirred
Arguably the most iconic-looking glass on this list, the martini glass is the ideal vessel for its namesake cocktail, cosmopolitans, Manhattans, gimlets, or really any neat, delicate cocktail. Their shape serves relatively the same function as coupes, as their stems are used so your hands won’t warm the drink, albeit they have a more striking look.
Luminarc is back at it again with arguably the best starter set of martini glasses on the market. As far as value is concerned, it’s difficult to surpass these martini glasses. They have the classic, elegant silhouette that you look for in martini glasses as well as a pure glass construction that’s free of any metals.
Orrefors Intermezzo Blue Martini Glass
For those willing to shell out the extra scratch, we recommend the painfully gorgeous blue martini glass from Orrefors Intermezzo. Influenced by contemporary Scandanavian design, each of these works of art is hand-blown with hand-drawn stems that are meticulously filled with sapphire blue glass. Any bar would improve with the inclusion of these beautiful glasses.
Moscow Mule Copper Mugs
For A Pop Of Color
While Moscow Mule copper mugs are the most purpose-built and specific glass on this list, their glorious sheen coupled with the ubiquitousness of Moscow Mules makes them a necessity for any home bar. We may go as far as saying you can use these mugs for mint juleps as well, but that’s up to you. When looking for Moscow Mule copper mugs, you’re going to want to make sure that they’re made of pure copper and not just copper-plated metal. Just because they all look similar doesn’t make them equal in quality.
B. Weiss Solid Copper Mugs
While not all Moscow Mule copper mugs are created equal, so long as you get a pair that has a pure copper construction, you can’t go wrong. B. Weiss makes a wonderful set of copper mugs that are hand-made, pure copper, and even come with Moscow Mule accoutrements to kickstart your mule making.
Moscow Mule Mugs by Wildeblossom
Very rarely can you find playful graphics on a set of drinkware that doesn’t take away from its beauty. Then again, very rarely do you find a pair of mid-century, solid copper mugs that feature genuine mules on them. The perfect theme for the mugs’ eponymous cocktail.
Nick and Nora Glasses
Infinite Use List
Anything you’d put in a coupe or martini glass will go excellently in a Nick and Nora glass. These retro vessels are making a huge comeback due to the craft cocktail boom and given their shape, they actually have a good amount of versatility, but are especially great for spirit-forward drinks that are served up. Fun fact, the glasses get their name from the main characters in the 1934 hit comedy, Thin Man, where protagonists Nick and Nora drink their cocktails from this style of glass.
Bormioli Rocco Italian Classic Cocktail Glasses
Another glassware standout, Bormioli Rocco is known for making excellent, accessible products that sacrifice neither quality nor aesthetic. Its Nick and Nora glasses evoke a vintage feel with a modern construction of soda lime glass. They’re great to look at, great to drink from, and a great addition to any bar.
Riedel Nick and Nora Glasses
Now, these are modern-day vintage glasses. Riedel took the vintage-inspired Nick and Nora glasses and completely modernized them by tapering the bowl and stretching the stem. The result is a contemporary cocktail glass with upped sex appeal and a more functional build that gets the drink to your palate without forcing you to tilt your head back.
Yes, pint glasses lack a certain sex appeal that many of these offerings have, but when it comes down to it, you’re going to need just a regular, solid glass at some point and these are going to be what you rely on. Pint glasses are your catch-all glasses; they’re good for micheladas, Bloody Marys, a variety of beer, or just easy sipping. Variety is paramount to a well-stocked bar, so do yourself a favor and don’t sleep on the utility of the pint glass.
Modvera Pint Glasses
For a reliable glass, we recommend a reliable brand: Modvera. The glassmaker produces great quality glasses that won’t chip and will last you years. They’re stackable, durable, and easily drinkable, making them a wonderful set of starter glasses for the budding collector.
Whiskey Peaks Half Dome Beer Glass
It isn’t fair for how cool Whiskey Peaks’ glasses are. These handsome, hand-blown glasses are made of lead-free crystal and feature an awesome topographic impression of Half Dome mountain. If you’re in the market for some killer glasses, do yourself a favor and gift yourself one of these.
We're Gonna Need A Bigger Glass
Yes, a pitcher isn’t technically a type of glass per se, but boy are they important for entertaining a crowd or an insatiably thirsty friend. Pitchers are the ideal vessel for storing big-batch drinks compared to a punch bowl and ladle as they’re easier to transport, easier to pour, and less of a hassle. Even if you’re not making cocktails, a great pitcher is a staple in a stocked kitchen or any complete home.
ZWILLING Sorrento Double-Wall Carafe
Zwilling is one of the most trusted brands in the culinary space, so the fact that it makes an incredible pitcher is no surprise at all. On top of its sleek design, the Sorrento Double-Wall Carafe is made of ultra-durable borosilicate glass, which is nearly indestructible. This carafe is minimalistic, double insulated, and will last you a lifetime.
fferrone Dearborn Pitcher
If there ever were a pitcher to geek out about, it would be fferrone’s sleek Dearborn Pitcher. Designer and architect Felicia Ferrone employed a less-is-more approach when creating this gorgeous, retro, and extra tall pitcher. Add to its gorgeous looks a borosilicate glass construction, and you have an heirloom-caliber product.
For Sipping, Slamming, Or Measuring
Shots are a tricky type of drink as they toe the thin line between having a great time and being a one-point-five-liquid-ounce form of terrible decisions. That said, they are undeniably an important part of any bar as they actually bring some utility to the table. Be they for sipping, slamming, or measuring, you need a good set of shot glasses.
JoyJolt Heavy Base Shot Glasses
If you’re looking for the best, bang-for-your-buck shot glasses on the market, then JoyJolt’s heavy base shot glasses are for you. They have a clean, asymmetrical design, a reinforced bottom (for slamming), and are made of pure glass.
Sempli Monti-Shot Shot Glasses
Los Angeles-based Sempli makes some of the best shot glasses around. They feature a contemporary aesthetic that’s a blend of Scandanavian sensibilities and Italian design, yielding a sophisticated shot glass that is guaranteed to class up any shot you slam.
Single Rocks Glasses
The Classic Short Glass
Also referred to as the “Old Fashioned” glass, single rocks glasses are the smaller counterpart to the double rocks glass. Oddly enough, single rocks glasses are actually rarer than double rocks glasses. Single rocks glasses serve virtually the identical purpose as double rocks glasses: a vessel for any spirit-forward drink on the rocks or poured neat. Despite their smaller size, single rocks glasses are also ideal for any cocktail that is built outside of a shaker. Common drinks you’ll enjoy in a single rocks glass are old fashioneds, Negronis, margaritas (on the rocks), or straight whiskey.
Msaaex Whiskey Glasses
Geometric patterns and rocks glasses pair like peanut butter and jelly. Msaaex is a highly recommend brand known for its design and durability. The diamond-cut texture provides a wonderful hand feel and its premium crystal glass construction ensures that it’s made with only the finest materials to enjoy your drink.
Reed & Barton Soho Double Old Fashioned Glasses
Another juggernaut in the space, Reed & Barton is simply phenomenal at creating luxurious glassware. This particular set of glasses features subtle yet ornate line patterns that will dazzle whoever is lucky enough to be holding them. The linework, pure crystal construction, and perfect shape result in the ultimate drinking vessel.
Wine O'Clock Somewhere
Wine isn’t a cocktail, but you can serve a variety of spritzers and cocktails in wine glasses, as well as, you know, wine. Wine glasses actually serve a function. Your sense of smell accounts for about 80% of your sense of taste, so capturing the aromas of your drink is a pretty crucial aspect of the tasting experience. The shape of the wine glass helps capture all the necessary aromas of the wine and, if they’re really well-made, will even direct the wine to the right parts of your mouth. So the next time you think about pouring wine in a solo cup, don’t (or just make sure it’s the boxed stuff if you do).
Harmony Stemless Wine Glasses by Rastel
Stemless wine glasses have been gaining traction over the years for their minimalist and contemporary design and ease of storage. Rastel’s harmony stemless wine glasses are an excellent pair with the proper bowl construction to capture as much wine aroma as possible. They’re made of 100% glass and go great with virtually any bar setup.
Schott Zwiesel Tritan Pure Beaujolais Wine Glasses
One of the best qualities of Schott Zwiesel’s wine glasses is that they can work seamlessly anywhere on the spectrum of formality. From casual brunches to dressed-up dinner parties, these glasses can fit in almost any setting. Add to that their distinct, angular silhouette and Tritan crystal construction, and you have a set that covers virtually all of your wine-related needs.
How To Start A Whiskey Collection
Now that you have all the glassware sorted out, go peruse our guide on how to start a whiskey collection to jumpstart your home bar with a proper selection of the brown stuff.