Cocktail Glasses: The Ultimate Glassware Guide for Beginners

This is the ultimate guide to cocktail glasses. In this guide, you will learn about the different cocktail glasses, their history, and how to maintain them.

If you’ve ever been to a bar, you’ve probably spent some time staring at the wall of crystal behind the bartender. What are all those funny-looking glasses? Cone ones, concave ones, twisty and tall ones, it seems like there’s no end to the number of cocktail glasses you never knew existed or what they could be used for. And does the shape of the glass even matter? 

An assortment of illustrated cocktail glasses from cocktail hammer.
An assortment of illustrated cocktail glasses.

There are a multitude of cocktail glasses out there with different shapes, colors, and sizes. So, if you’re looking to find out all there is to know about cocktail glasses, you’ve come to the right place because in this post, we’re going to go over everything you need to know in this definitive guide to cocktail glasses.

But before we cover the differences between cocktail glasses, we must first explain what a cocktail glass is and what it’s used for. 

What Is a Cocktail Glass?

The anatomy of a cocktail glass - cocktail hammer
The anatomy of a cocktail glass.

A cocktail glass is a container made specifically for the consumption of an alcoholic beverage. They are usually made of glass; however, they can be made of plastic or metal. 

Cocktail glasses guide
Cocktail glasses guide

Cocktail glassware generally falls under two categories; stemware (glasses with a long stem) and tumblers (flat bottom glasses with no stems or handles), but more on that later.

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Why Do We Use Different Cocktail Glasses?

Cocktail glasses are not just there to complicate your local bartender’s life. The choice of glassware greatly influences the enjoyment of the drinking experience. 

Everything from the scent of the drink to how quickly the drink is to be consumed will be predicated by the cocktail glass. Additionally, different cocktails require different volume capacities, garnish requirements, aromatic considerations, and thermal considerations. This means the right cocktail in the wrong glass can fundamentally alter the enjoyment of the cocktail. 

Drinking from wine glass
Drinking from wine glass.

The choice of drinkware can also serve as a means of identifying a cocktail and serve as a representation of the cocktail’s rich history.

The glass can also affect how fast ice melts. This is why many cocktails use stemmed glasses, which prevent over dilution due to thermal lag. Holding the cocktail by the stem of the glass as opposed to the body of the glass prevents the warmth from your hands from compromising the integrity of the drink.

It’s important to note that while stemmed glasses are used to prevent this thermal exchange, some glasses encourage this heat transfer to release aromatics in the drink or promote mild ice dilution. This of course will be dependent on the drink, which is why we must always use the right glass for the right drink. 

Glass vs. Plastic vs. Metal Cocktail Grinkwear

Glass cocktail glass vs. Metal cocktail glass.
Glass cocktail glass vs. Metal cocktail glass.

As we alluded to earlier, not all drinkware is made of glass. Some are made of plastic and metallic materials. 

Plastic receptacles (typically polycarbonate) are more resistant against heavy impacts, but they often retain a horrible faded washed look even when new. Light does not shine through plastic as it does for glass. This is why we always recommend going for glass if it’s within your budget or if the venue is suitable for glassware. 

There are a few cocktails that are meant to be served in a metallic receptacle. For instance, the Moscow Mule, and the Mint Julip are both served in a copper mug.

However, If you look hard enough, you can find just about any cocktail glass in metallic form. You may also find cocktails that call for a ceramic mug such as a Tiki drink.

Can I Put Cocktail Glasses in the Freezer?

Placing glassware in the freezer to chill beforehand is normal. Just make sure not to leave significant amounts of water in the glass, or it might expand during the freezing process and crack the glass. 

If you need to chill down a glass quickly, you can place ice cubes and water in the glass and then dump out the water right before you use it to serve your cocktail.  

Which Cocktail Glasses Do I Need to Start a Home Bar?

Wall of cocktail glasses
Wall of cocktail glasses

The secret to knowing which cocktail glasses you need to start your home bar is to own the glasses you feel you will use the most.

Don’t break the bank stocking up on glassware you will rarely use.

If you find yourself drinking a lot of cocktails with carbonated drinks, stock up on highball glasses. If you and your friends are more beer drinkers, load up on Pint, Pilsner, and Mugs. 

Shot and shooter glasses are small, cheap, and easy to store, so have a few of those lying around. 

If you rarely drink wine, just keep one or two glasses for when you have company. Just don’t break the bank stocking up on glassware you will rarely use.

How to, Maintain, and Store Cocktail Glasses?

Cocktail glasses: the ultimate glassware guide for beginners | giphy | cocktail hammer
Broken wine glass.

Most unstemmed glasses are dishwasher safe. However, stemmed glasses might need to be hand-washed to keep them from snapping or chipping.

If you see any glass is chipped, we would, unfortunately, recommend you throw that one out and buy another. Chipped glass can lead to cuts on your hands, mouth and can be very dangerous if ingested.

Take precautions when stacking glasses next to each other to avoid scratches on the exterior

Before storing your glassware, always make sure it’s clean and smudge-free. Holding stemmed cocktail glasses by the stem will prevent fingerprints from getting on the face of the glass. Holding it up to the light will reveal any streaks or fingerprints.

Take precautions when stacking glasses next to each other to avoid scratches on the exterior. Rocks glasses and shooter glasses are often stackable. Stacking these glasses can save you considerable shelf space.

If your glassware has been shelved for some time, remember to wash it beforehand and even polish it with a lint-free cloth when possible. The video below shows you how to properly polish a wine glass, but the principle will be just about the same for all glasses.

How to Display Your Cocktail Glasses?

If you are looking for a cool way to display your cocktail glasses, check out this rolling bar cart. I got it as a gift, and I absolutely love it. It has racks to hang and store my stemmed glasses. You can buy the bar cart here.

The Different Types of Cocktail Glasses

A few notes about this list before we begin: 

  • A single cocktail glass can have two or three different names. For example, a rocks glass is the same as an Old-Fashioned glass and lowball glass. We will do our best to include all name variations.
  • When referring to drinks being served “Up,” we refer to the bartending terminology meaning any alcoholic drink shaken or stirred with ice and then strained and served in another glass without ice.
  • We will refer to the bottom of the glass where a majority of the drink will sit as “the bowl” of the glass, and the opening where the drinker puts their lips on as “the rim.” 
  • This list is in no particular order.

So with that out of the way, let’s get to it, starting things off with the iconic martini glass.

1. Martini Glass

Anatomy of a martini glass
Anatomy of a martini glass.

The martini glass is a stemmed glass with an inverted cone bowl and a wide rim. The wide rim helps release the cocktail’s aroma and is ideal for rimming/frosting (adding salt, sugar, lime, etc.). Cocktails using a martini glass are always served up.

History of the Martini Glass

The martini glass (sometimes referred to as a cocktail glass) is one of the most iconic stemmed cocktail glasses. It’s so iconic that its silhouette is often used to represent bar or alcohol. 

The martini glass was actually around far before the Martini cocktail. It was not until the Martini cocktail became popular that the term martini glass was attributed to the drinkware. Before that, it was called a cocktail glass. 

It’s worth mentioning that a martini glass and a cocktail glass are actually two different types of glasses. Still, the difference is so subtle that you would be forgiven for using the two interchangeably.

How Many Ounces Can a Martini Glass Hold?

A standard martini glass can hold up to 8 fluid ounces, enough to hold a standard 4 ounce Martini without spilling over. But this is one drink you’re not going to want to take with you onto the dance floor. 

Which Drinks are Served in a Martini Glass?

The martini glass is the standard glass for all Martinis. Here are the top 5 cocktails we believe should always be served using a martini glass.

  • Manhattans
  • Cosmopolitan 
  • Bobby Burns
  • Aviation
  • Lemon Drop 

Which Martini Glasses Should I Buy? 

A martini glass is often used as a representation of high class and culture. With that said, avoid the plastic stuff. Always get martini glasses made with real glass. I would also avoid elaborate designs for this one – the simpler, the better. Here are a few that meet our standard.

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2. Nick and Nora Glass

Anatomy of a nick and nora glass
Anatomy of a nick and nora glass.

The Nick and Nora glass is similar to a martini glass but with a rounder bowl, leading up to a small, narrower straight-edged rim.

History of the Nick and Nora Glass

The Nick and Nora glass became popular after “The Thin Man” noir films during the 1930s. It was named after the on-screen couple, Nick and Nora Charles, who loved alcoholic drinks and could often be seen holding these glasses while showing their romantic chemistry on the silver screen. 

How Many Ounces Can Nick and Nora Glass Hold?

A standard Nick and Nora glass can hold up to 5 fluid ounces.

Which Drinks Are Served in a Nick and Nora Glass?

Just like the martini glass, drinks that use Nick and Nora glasses are served “Up.” However, unlike the martini glass, its shape provides a bit more stability and affords it more versatility in its use. Drinks that are served in a Nick and Nora glass include (but are not limited to):

  • Sour Cocktails (Whiskey Sour, Pisco Sour)
  • The Bee’s Knees
  • The Sidecar
  • The Royal Cocktail

Which Nick and Nora Glasses Should I Buy?

As with any cocktail glass, avoid plastics. Here are three Nick and Nora Glasses you can buy that fit the bill and won’t break the bank.

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3. Sour Glass

Anatomy of a sour glass
Anatomy of a sour glass.

A sour glass (also known as a Delmonico glass) is similar to the Nick and Nora glass. However,  It’s slightly taller, more slender, has a shorter stem, and has a more cylindrical bowl where it connects to the stem – kind of like a miniature goblet.  

This kind-of resembles a lemon when full, which I can imagine was in the minds of the designers when creating a glass specifically for sour cocktails.

History of the Sour Glass

When the sour was first popularized in the 19th century, it was served in the same glass as an Old-Fashion. However, the additional ingredients called for a glass that served the drink better. 

How Many Ounces Can a Sour Glass Hold?

The sour glass can hold from 5 to 6 fluid ounces, and if you’re making a sour drink, you’re most likely going to fill it to the top.

Which Drinks are Served in a Sour Glass?

This glass is made specifically for sour cocktails. Here are the top 5 cocktails we believe should always be served using a sour glass.

  • Whiskey Sour
  • Pisco Sour
  • Tequila Sour
  • Bourbon Sour
  • Lincoln Dream

Which Sour Glass Should I Buy?

Surprisingly, finding sour glasses is not as easy as you might think because many online sellers label any glass a “sour” glass. To save you time, here are some sour glasses we found worth checking out.

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4. Coupe Glass

Anatomy of a coupe glass 3
Anatomy of a coupe glass.

The coupe glass is a stemmed glass that leads up into a wide and stout bowl where the majority of the drink sits and then finishes to a rim that concaves in at the very top to hold in the contents of the drink. 

Unlike the martini glass, which requires delicate handling due to its obtuse shape, the coupe glass has a curled rim, which minimizes spillage and needs requires less delicate handling.

History of the Coupe Glass

The coupe glass was initially created for Champagne, but thanks to its versatile design, it has been adapted to be used for a majority of cocktails both classic and modern.

The coupe is also rumored to be modeled after Marie Antoinette’s breast.

Marie antoinette coupe cocktail glass 1
Marie antoinette.

Unfortunately, as fun as this rumor is, historians have debunked it as there is no evidence to support the theory (historians – always ruining the fun with their facts).

How Many Ounces Does a Coupe Glass Hold?

A standard coupe glass can only hold 5 to 7 fluid ounces on average. 

Bartender fine a straining cocktail into a coupe glass
Bartender fine straining cocktail into a coupe glass.

Which Drinks Are Served in a Coupe Glass? 

The coupe glass is extremely versatile. You will still often find Champagne in coupe glasses stacked into towers at weddings. But more often, the drinks that you’re likely to find served in a coupe glass are any cocktails that are served “up” (without ice). This can include (but are not limited to):

  • All ‘up’ sour cocktails
  • Bobby Burns
  • The Grasshopper 
  • The Bee’s Knees 
  • The Sidecar
  • The Royal Cocktail

Which Coupe Glasses Should I Buy?

As previously mentioned, always choose real glass, not plastic. Plastics tend to scratch easier, and it will fade away over time, giving it that ugly, faded plastic look. 

Here are two coupe glasses that will not fade away.

5. Champagne Glass

Anatomy of a coupe glass 4
Anatomy of a flute glass.

The Champagne glass (also referred to as a flute) is a long-stemmed glass with a cylindrical body. It’s most commonly used for drinking Champagne or sparkling wine. Its long bowl is meant to contain Champagne bubbles that inevitably rise when Champagne is poured into the glass.

The Champagne glass is the standard glass used at just about any celebration where Champagne is served. If you find yourself at a wedding or New Years party, you can rest assured that you will find a few of these glasses sporting the bubbly good stuff. 

Wedding couple with champagne flute glasses
Wedding couple with champagne flute glasses.

Variations of the Champagne Glass

There are a few Champagne glass variations, including the flute glass, tulip glass, wide tulip, and trumpet glass. The coupe (which we have already covered) is also a Champagne glass (think of it as an ultra-wide tulip glass)

Flute Glass

The Flute glass is the most common Champagne glass. You will recognize it by its long stem and slightly concave rim, which helps limit the carbonation from dissipating too quickly.  

Tulip Glass

The Tulip glass has the same size bowl but leads into a more bulbous body than the Champagne flute. This design further limits the escape of carbonation while allowing the drinker to enjoy their drink.

Wide Tulip Glass

The wide tulip is the same as the tulip, but well, wider.

The Trumpet Glass

This glass gets its name from its trumpet-like shape. It has an elaborate design while maintaining the elegant look you would expect from a Champagne glass.

Coupe Glass

The coupe glass was the original Champagne glass. You’ll commonly see coupe glasses at weddings wheel stacked to make a sort of Champagne pyramid. 

History of the Champagne Glass

For the first 300 years of its life, Champagne was served in a coupe glass. Which, as you can imagine, would dissipate carbonation very quickly, would spill easily, and did not account for the accumulating bubbles – not ideal. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the flutes were popularized. I, for one, am thankful for the transition. 

How many Ounces Can A Champagne Glass Hold?

Both the Champagne glass and tulip glass allow approximately 6 fluid ounces but will only be filled to about 4 ounces.

Which Drinks Are Served in a Champagne Glass? 

Besides Champagne, these glasses are suitable for sparkling wines like Prosecco and Cava and cocktails. Here are five drinks that should always and only be served in a Champagne glass.

  • Bellini
  • Mimosas
  • Bucks Fizz
  • French 75 
  • French 95

Which Champagne Glasses Should I Buy? 

6. Wine Glasses

This glass needs no introduction… But if you’re reading this, it probably does. The wine glass is one of the most iconic symbols of alcohol culture. It represents letting loose with style. 

It should be noted that there are more than two wine glasses, including port, chardonnay, and dessert glasses, But we will only cover the two most popular ones. The red and white wine glasses.

Red Wine Glass

The red wine glass has a flat base, long stem, and large, almost balloon-like bowl to expose the wine’s surface area to more oxygen. 

White Wine Glass

White wine glasses are similar to their red counterparts but are slightly smaller and have a taller, narrower bowl.

What’s the Difference Between a Red and White Wine Glass?

The main difference between a red wine glass and a white wine glass is size. Because wine can range from being light-bodied to full-bodied, subtle to bold flavors and aromas, and other considerable factors, the intake of oxygen and outtake of the wine’s gasses dictate the construct of the glass.  

Red Wine glasses are larger than white wine glasses. This is to allow the drinker to swirl the wine and allow the wine to breathe. Red wines need that extra room whilst white wines do not have the same level of viscosity, and so less swirling is needed to detect its aromas. 

History of the Wine Glass

The history of the wine glass goes as far back as wine itself, but the design we know today originated in the medieval period, around the 1400s. 

The Venetians were the first to create something called crystallography, a form of clear glass. However, It wasn’t until the 1670s that the wine glass got its beautiful clear shine thanks to an English man named George Ravenscroft, who used his own patented techniques to make glass as clear as crystal.

How Many Ounces Can a Wine Glass Hold?

A red wine glass can hold around 12 to 14 fluid ounces, while white wine glasses can hold 8 to 12 ounces. But a true wine aficionado knows not to fill wine glasses all the way to the rim. They should, in fact, leave sufficient room to oxidize the wine and experience all the wine has to offer.

Drinks That Use a Wine Glass

To be honest, nothing other than wine (including fortified wines) should be going in your wine glasses. We’ve seen people attempt to use wine glasses for other drinks but usually end up with a broken glass or the drink being unpleasant to drink. So in short, the only drinks you should be using these glasses with are as follows:

  • Wine
  • More wine
  • Even more wine

Just stick to the wines for this glass.

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7. Margarita Glass

Anatomy of a margarita glass
Anatomy of a margarita glass.

The good thing about the margarita Glass is that you’ll be able to spot it right away due to its distinct features. The margarita glass is stemmed with an almost comically large rim and a tiny protruding bowl at its epicure. The large diameter of the rim also allows for more surface area to frost the glass with coarse salt or sugar. 

History of the Margarita Glass?

The margarita is a cocktail with Tequila, triple sec (or Cointreau), and lime. The first documented citation of the margarita comes from Esquire magazine they did back in December 1956 in which the article introduces the Margarita cocktail which was “was both lovely to look at, exciting, and provocative.”

But how did this drink become synonymous with such a silly looking glass? As you might imagine, it’s a bit of a mystery. One popular theory suggests that this holy union sprang from a logistical mixup. 

The story goes that a crafty restaurant in Los Angeles ordered new Champagne glasses but delivered these odd-shaped glasses instead. So, instead of returning them, the restaurant figured they could use them for their Margaritas as the glasses were larger (which suggested more alcohol by volume), and they could charge a higher price for the same drink – crafty indeed. 

How Many Ounces Can a Margarita Glass Hold?

A typical margarita glass can hold about 12 fluid ounces. 

Which Drinks Are Served in a Margarita Glass?

The use case for the margarita glass is disappointingly low, you will find a few cocktails which require this glass, including:

  • Margaritas
  • Daiquiris
  • Shrimp Cocktails

Which Margarita Glass Should I Buy?

Margarita glasses are often used as novelty glasses, so there’s no shortage of tacky designs out there. This makes it hard to come by really nice high-quality margarita glasses. Fortunately for you, we have scoured the internet in search of some that don’t look like they belong deep in your grandmother’s cupboards.

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8. Highball Glass 

Anatomy of a highball glass
Anatomy of a highball glass.

The highball is an unstemmed tumbler drinking glass walls with no handles. The highball glass is one of the most common glasses around.

How Many Ounces Can A Highball Hold?

A typical highball can contain 12 fluid ounces. 

History of the Highball Glass

A highball is essentially a tumbler. Variations of tumblers have been around for ages, but it was not until 1725 that the technology for creating glass tumblers like the highball became available. 

In those early days, some tumblers did not have a flat base, meaning drinkers had to have teeming hands for extended periods of time. Some believe this was done intentionally to encourage the patrons to drink faster and purchase more alcohol. I bet it worked.

How Many Ounces can a Highball Glass Hold?

A highball glass can hold 10 to 14 ounces of liquid.

What Drinks Are Served in a Highball Glass?

Highball glasses are typically used for 1&1s. 1&1s refer to cocktails that are made with a base spirit and an additional complimentary liquid. It can also be used for either soda or beer. Some cocktails you might find using highball glasses include (but are not limited to):

  • The Salty Dog
  • Rosarita Sunrise
  • Lime Rickety
  • Pimm’s Italiano 
  • Painkiller
  • Rum and Coke 
  • Whiskey and Coke 
  • Cranberry and Vodka
  • Gin and Tonic 

Which Highball Glasses Should I Buy?

Thanks to their simplistic design, there’s no shortage of highball glasses out there. Take a look at these.

9. Collins Glass

Anatomy of a collins glass.
Anatomy of a collins glass.

The Collins Glass is another unstemmed cylindrical tumbler similar to the highball. In contrast to the highball, the Collins glass is typically thinner (more narrow) and slightly taller than a highball glass. 

History of the Collins Glass

Tom collins cocktail
The tom collins cocktail.

The Collins glass is named after a British man named John Collins, the creator of the cocktail we know today as Tom Collins.

The original name for the Tom Collins cocktail was the John Collins, however, considering that the cocktail called for Old Tom Gin, people began asking for a Tom Collins instead, and the name sort of stuck.

How Many Ounces Does a Collins Glass Hold?

A Collins glass can hold 10 to 14 fluid ounces. 

What Drinks Are Served in a Collins Glass? 

This glass is commonly used for 

  • Tom Collins
  • Long Island Iced Tea
  • Zombie
  • Horses Neck

Which Collins Glass Should I Buy?

When shopping for a Tom Collins glass, make sure that it’s a Collins glass and not a highball. Here are a few options we recommend.

10. Rocks Glass

Anatomy of a rocks glass.
Anatomy of a rocks glass.

A rocks glass (also called a lowball glass or Old-Fashioned glass) is an unstemmed, short, wide glass, most often used for drinks with low to medium volume which may or may not require ice. Rocks glasses typically have some weight to them due to their thick dense bases.

Rocks glasses come in a variety of sizes and styles. From decorative and elaborate, to smooth and minimalistic, and everything in between. Despite their appearance, their basic characteristics will be the same. 

How Many Ounces Can a Rocks Glass Hold?

A typical rocks glass can hold 6 to 10 fluid ounces.

Double Rocks Glass

The double rocks Glass (sometimes referred to as a double old-fashion) is slightly wider than a rocks glass, with the capacity to hold two ounces more than its smaller counterpart. The larger capacity is ideal for large 2×2 ice cubes or spheres. A double rocks glass can typically hold 12 to 14 fluid ounces. 

What Drinks are Served With in Rocks Glass?

The rocks glass is most commonly used to serve spirits neat (poured from the bottle with no ice) or over a singular ice block. Common spirits that are drunk neat include Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, and Rum.

Cocktail glasses: the ultimate glassware guide for beginners | giphy | cocktail hammer
Pouring whiskey into a rocks glass.

Here are the top 5 cocktails we believe should always be served in a rocks glass.

  • Old-Fashioned
  • Negronis
  • White Russian
  • New York Sour
  • Caipirinha 

Which Rocks Glasses Should I Buy?

A good rocks glass should be thick and able to take a modest beating in the dishwasher or cabinets where they will likely be stored and stacked. So only go for glasses that have a thick base. Here are two we found that fit the bill with three completely different styles.

11. Shot Glass

Anatomy of a shot glass
Anatomy of a shot glass.

The shot glass is a tiny cylindrical glass receptacle typically used to drink or shoot 1 to 1.5 ounces of alcohol. Double shot glasses are sometimes used for more elaborate shots, including layered shots like the B-52 or Slippery Nipple. The shot glass comes in many different shapes and sizes, with an abundance of creative styles. 

How Many Ounces Can a Shot Glass Hold?

A shot glass is capable of holding 1.25oz to 1.50oz. A double shot glass also called a shooter glass, can exceed 2oz.

Which Drinks are Served in Shot Glass?

The shot glass is typically used to drink or “shoot” base spirits, including Whiskey, Vodka, Rum, Tequila. It can also be used for layered shots. Here are five of the most popular layered shots served in a shot glass.

  • The B-52
  • The Slippery Nipple 
  • The Oyster Shooter 
  • Green Dream
  • Angel’s Tip

Which Shot Glasses Should I Buy?

One of the great things about shot and shooter glasses is that, because they are so small, you can often get a bunch for a low price. Additionally, gift shops worldwide sell shot glasses as souvenirs, making them very collectible.

Here are our recommendations for shot and shooter glasses.

12. Hurricane Glass 

Anatomy of the hurricane
Anatomy of the hurricane glass.

The Hurricane glass looks like a Pilsner glass that is elevated by a stem and medallion base.

The most important thing about the Hurricane glass is that it must be big enough to hold all of the ingredients required to make the cocktail, which includes several different juices, two types of Rum, ice, and more. The Hurricane glass can hold up to 20 ounces. 

History of the Hurricane Glass

The story goes that the Hurricane, and the Hurricane Glass, has its inception in the world-famous “Pat-O-Brians” bar in New Orleans (which we’ve been to on more than one occasion). 

Which Drinks are Served in Shot Glass?

Here are five of the most popular drinks served in a Hurricane glass.

  • Hurricane
  • Singapore Sling
  • Piña Colada
  • Blue Lagoon
  • Frozen Drinks

13. Snifter

Anatomy of a cogac snifter 1
Anatomy of a cognac snifter.

Snifters can serve for Brandy, Cognac, or Whiskey. Unlike stemmed glasses that aim to reduce the thermal lag and keep from spoiling the cocktail, the Snifter glass encourages more thermal lag caused by the body heat transferred through the drinkers’ hands. 

The reason for this is because heating up the Brandy, Whiskey, or Cognac, releases the wonderful subtle fragrances the liquid offers. No other additive besides the spirit is meant to go in the Snifter glass. 

The Snifter glass has a spherical bowl for the gas to accumulate and to release through a narrow rim where the drinker may inhale the smell of the Brandy, Cognac, or Whiskey. 

How Many Ounces can a Snifter Glass Hold?

Although a Snifter glass can contain 6 to 8 fluid ounces, the glass is only meant to contain a small quantity. The typical serving size for an 8 ounce Snifter is 2 fluid ounces. For 16 ounce snifters, 4 ounces is appropriate.

A common way to check if you have poured too much or too little is to place the Snifter on its side. The spherical bowl of the Snifter glass should hold the proper amount of liquid without spilling.

Tip: pour hot water into a rocks glass, and then put your Snifter glass sideways on top of that glass. The Snifter glass should be able to hold itself up horizontally while the heat from the hot water rises and warms the spirit inside of the Snifter glass. Warming the spirit will allow the aromas to release more effectively.

14. Beer Glasses

If you know anyone that enjoys beer, you can be 99% sure they’ve at some point acquired a beer glass. Notice I said acquired, not purchased. I’m not talking about the ones who received one as a Christmas gift either; I’m talking about the ones who walked out of the restaurant or festival with the Pint glass in their coat as they sneaked by the staff. You know who you are.

There are all kinds of beer glasses out there, but we are just going to focus on the most common ones.

Pint Glass

Anatomy of a pint beer glass
Anatomy of a pint beer glass.

The Pint Glass is a handleless straight-edged glass made large enough for beer and ciders. The Pint Glass holds about 16 ounces in the U.S. and about 20 ounces in the U.K. All I can say is that one of the two has got it right, and the other one is still behind on the times, but I’m not at liberty to say which one is which.

Pilsner Glass

Anatomy of a pilsner beer glass
Anatomy of a pilsner beer glass.

Pilsner glasses are also handleless and don’t have the straight edges that a Pint glass has. Instead, it has curved sides to help slow the beer from foaming up when pouring the beer in and out of the glass. The Pilsner glass can vary in size holding from 12 to 17 ounces.

Beer Mug

Anatomy of a beer mug
Anatomy of a beer mug.

The Beer Mug is the only glass made for a beer that has the handle attached to it, making it also the glass that is less affected by the thermal lag from your hands and thus the container that will keep the beer the coldest for the longest period of time of the three glasses. The Beer Mug usually holds about 16 ounces but holds more depending on the manufacturing for the occasion, i.e. Beer Mugs for Oktoberfest compared to Beer mugs in your local dive bar.  

Which Beer Glass Should I Buy?

15. Irish Coffee Glass

The anatomy of an irish coffee glass
The anatomy of an irish coffee glass

The Irish Coffee glass is almost exclusively used when serving, you guessed it, Irish Coffee.

If you think that the Irish Coffee Glass looks similar to the London Dock glass. It does. The only difference is the Irish coffee glass has a larger volume capacity, holding approx 8 to 10oz, which makes it better for heated or dessert cocktails that require extra space. 

An Irish Coffee, for example, is about 6 to 7 fluid ounces, which then, if topped off with whipped cream, would be too much for an ordinary London Dock glass. The Irish Coffee Glass is also stemmed to prevent the heat from warming the surface it rests on.

Drinks That Use an Irish Coffee Glass

The obvious Cocktail being Irish Coffee but also spiked hot tea, hot chocolate, ciders, and other hot alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks.

Which Irish Coffee Glass Should I Buy?

Here are a few well-reviewed Irish Coffee glasses worth checking out.

Pony Glass, London Dock Glass, and Pousse-Cafe Glass

The Pony  

The Pony glass looks like a mini-port glass, a port glass looking like a shrunken wine glass having a small bowl and narrow rim, but has been mostly referred to as a shot glass with a stem. The Pony glass usually only holds about 1oz. For more information

The London Dock

The London Dock glass looks like a small stemmed mug with a handle for about two fingers to hold the drink, protruding from the side of the bowl. It can usually hold approx. 5 to 6oz For more info

The Pousse-Cafe

The Pousse-Cafe glass is handleless, very narrow, stands tall, has slightly curved sides, and flares out at the top. One of the odder-looking glasses, some may say this glass looks like it’s wearing an invisible corset. Usually only holds 2 to 4oz. For more info  

Drinks That Use a Pony, London Dock, Pousse-Cafe Glass

The Pony  

This glass can hold liqueurs and cordials.

The London Dock

You can use this glass for Spanish sherry, dessert wines, or heated drinks such as Irish Coffee and its variants.

The Pousse-Cafe

You’re going to use this glass for your layered, possibly, multicolored drinks.  

Conclusion: Cocktail Glasses

Now when you’re at your bartending interview, and they ask you to make a cocktail, you won’t hang your head in shame out the door after being kicked out for serving an Old-Fashioned in a martini glass.

If you did not find info on the glassware you were looking for, check out this awesome post from Quality Logo Products on “46 Different Types of Drinkware Everybody Should Know.

Let us know if there were glasses we missed that you think should be included and would like to know more about. We hope you enjoyed this definitive guide to cocktail glasses. If you enjoyed this post, click here to check out all our other posts. And remember to stay home, stay safe, and get hammered. Until next time.

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Written by Chris Harris, Staff Writer

Howdy. I’m Chris Harris. One of the writers here at Cocktail Hammer. I have a passion for all things food, wine, and mixology. When I’m not I’m behind the bar or writing for this awesome blog, you can find me riding my bike all across New York City.

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1 thought on “Cocktail Glasses: The Ultimate Glassware Guide for Beginners<h2 class="post-excerpt">This is the ultimate guide to cocktail glasses. In this guide, you will learn about the different cocktail glasses, their history, and how to maintain them.</h2>”

  1. It’s so cool that you talked about glassware and how they classify! Recently, my brother announced he’s getting married, and I want to start looking for the perfect gift for him and his fiance. I do believe they’d like to have a nice glassware set, so I’ll be sure to read your tips before going shopping! Thank you for the insight on cocktail glasses and their uses!


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