When it comes to cocktails, it doesn’t matter if you’re dirty three olives, un-salted rim, bourbon up or on the rocks–your cocktail of choice deserves one of the many dedicated pieces of glassware that have been created over the centuries to contain it. We don’t want you to have to do any unnecessary work, so we compiled all the essential cocktail glasses you should own right here. From Manhattans and Margaritas, to Bellinis and Mules, all the proper spirits, cocktails, and associated pieces of glassware are covered.
Rocks / Old-Fashioned Glass
This short, thick, and otherwise unassuming glass is generally clear, simplistic, and used to serve drinks over ice (one big cube for fancy spots, many smaller cubes otherwise). You know all of that. If you’re serving drinks on the rocks, this is the glassware for it. The Internet says it gets more confusing because it’s also an “old-fashioned glass” but seeing as how that cocktail is almost always served on the rocks, we don’t understand the confusion. The point is you need you a solid set of these glasses whether you’re mixing bourbon cocktails or drinking whiskey straight.
A good set of rocks glasses is simple. Unless you have aesthetic preferences, a standard rocks or double rocks glass will work for a wide variety of cocktails. In our opinion, the best old-fashioned glasses are sturdy, durable, and plain. You can definitely opt for something with a little more personality, and if you plan on serving hefty cocktails, a double rocks glass (which adds about two ounces to the standard glass) might be best for you. But, in general, keep your old-fashioned glasses simple and focus on the cocktail itself.
The Cocktail: The Old-Fashioned
(Bourbon/Rye + Sugar + Bitters + Water)
The Top Cocktail Glass Choice: Godinger Italian-Made Old Fashioned Whiskey Glasses (Set of 4)
While plenty of the other glassware options on this list offer versatility when it comes to the specific cocktails you serve in them, the margarita glass is specially built for its namesake sweet, sour, salty, and refreshing cocktail. These particular glasses are lightweight, stemless, durable and dishwasher-safe so you can salt the rims, serve up your drinks, and recycle as necessary. Without the hand-washing fanfare.
Poke around the internet and you’ll find a variety of margarita glasses available. Some are stemless cocktail glasses, some mirror the rocks glass in shape and size, some are one-of-a-kind masterpieces. The defining characteristic tends to be a chunky, sturdy glass with a blue accent in an otherwise clear glass.
If you’re looking for a cocktail and associated glass to pair with all your south of the border cooking adventures, we’d recommend a Margarita.
The Cocktail: Margarita
(Tequila + Cointreau + Lime Juice + Salt)
The Cocktail Glass: Libbey Blue Ribbon Stemless Margarita Glasses (Set of 6)
When it comes to brunch (or earlier) cocktails, there are really only two families of drinks to choose from: Bloody Mary or Mimosa. While we generally favor the Bloody family tree of Mary, Maria, Caesar, and the like, those drinks–while delicious–aren’t exactly refreshing. And then can frankly go in any old glass. Stemless wine glass, shaker pint, hell we’ve seen whole Bloody Mary bowls.
But the Mimosa is a particular cocktail that deserves its own glass. A classic champagne flute is often recommended for the Mimosa –along with its Italian cousin the Bellini. Champagne flutes will differ in shape but most are stemmed cocktail glasses with a tall, narrow glass atop. Champagne can also be served in a stemless wine glass, tumbler, coupe cocktail glass, and more but the Mimosa is classically served in the traditional champagne flute.
And if you’re serving the Bellini at brunch, the ridiculously simple recipe of alcoholic bubbles + fruit juice remains the same, except you sub in Prosecco for the champagne and peach puree for the orange juice. It’s equally as refreshing while being tastier and just a bit more bougie.
The Cocktail: Bellini
(Champagne/Prosecco + Fruit Puree + Fruit Garnish)
The Cocktail Glass: JoyJolt Champagne Flutes (Set of 2)
There are plenty of cocktails you can argue about among friends. But the longest running debate is always going to be how to order,make, and serve the perfect martini.
Traditionally, martini glasses are stemmed cocktail glasses with a distinctive v-shape. But, more and more martini fans are serving their cocktail of choice in more rounded glassware. The coupe cocktail glass has become a perfectly serviceable martini glass. And the Nick and Nora glass has recently risen in popularity among bartenders. Still, there is just something so iconic about the classic martini glass that we think it’s essential for most home bars.
And when it comes to the drink itself, despite what we’ve all thought at one point or another, none of us are Bond, James Bond, so we shouldn’t order drinks as such. Furthermore, no one in their right mind would order a spirit forward cocktail “shaken not stirred” because, if you’ve ever mixed your own drinks, you know that’s complete nonsense. That said, you absolutely should try a Vesper Martini because the combo of gin/vodka with Lillet and a twist is delicious… despite the fact it won’t make you a secret agent.
The Cocktail: Vesper Martini
(Gin + Vodka + Lillet + Lemon Peel)
The Recommended Martini Glasses: Mikasa Cheers 10 oz Martini Glasses (Set of 4)
Copper Mule Mug
The Mule is one of those staple cocktails that is as easy to make as it is effervescent and refreshing. And the specialized cocktail glass has made the drink iconic and unmistakable. Most cocktails could be served without a fuss in one or two styles of cocktail glasses. But the Mule has only one home: a copper mug.
If you want a Moscow Mule, you use vodka. If you want the Kentucky Bourbon Mule, you go bourbon or rye. Pour your spirit of choice, plenty of ginger beer and some lime juice over an entire copper mule mug filled with ice and then garnish with a mint sprig. The entire copper mug should get frosty on the outside which is the perfect indication it’s time to dive into the liquid deliciousness that sits in front of you.
The Cocktail: Moscow / Kentucky Mule
(Vodka/Bourbon + Ginger Beer + Lime Juice + Mint)
The Cocktail Glass: PG Moscow Mule Mugs 19oz (Set of 4)
The Cocktail: Manhattan
(Bourbon/Rye + Vermouth + Bitters + Cherry)
The Cocktail Glass: Casablanca Cocktail Coupe Glasses (Set of 2)
The highball and collins glasses tend to be used interchangeably but there’s a slight difference in size. A collins glass is taller and holds a few more ounces than its highball counterpart. They are tall stemless glasses that are typically narrower than your traditional shaker pint glass and will hold about 12 ounces or so. The highball and collins cocktail glasses are most used for simple two- to three-ingredient drinks like the vodka soda, G&T, or whiskey highball. Additionally, because they’re sturdy and simple you’ll often find them used at bars and restaurants for non-alcoholic options.
When choosing a highball glass, opt for something simple and sturdy. These will be used frequently, especially if you’re a fan of gin & tonics or Americanos, so dishwasher-safe is a plus.
And if you’re looking for the best cocktail to serve in a highball glass, look no further than its namesake: a Whiskey Highball. This extremely simple drink has two ingredients: Whiskey (or bourbon) and something sparkling. We tend to prefer it with ginger ale but we’ve seen versions that use sparkling water, tonic water, or club soda. Often a lemon slice or peel is used as a garnish.
The Cocktail: Whiskey Highball
(Whiskey + Ginger Ale)
The Cocktail Glass: Vance Cut-Glass Highball Glasses Set
While not technically a cocktail glass, the classic shot glass is essential for the modern bar cart. Most home bars will come equipped with a jigger but in a pinch, a shot glass is a handy measuring vessel. Plus, shot glasses are a great way to add some personality to your bar cart. Whether you collect those kitschy, touristy shot glasses on vacations or you happen to find some stylish vintage ones, you can add something eye-catching to your cocktail glass collection. Or, if you prefer a utilitarian approach, the simple clear glass shot glasses work just fine.
The most significant factor to consider is size. An ounce and a half is more or less “standard.” One-ounce shot glasses can be messy to pour into and two-ounce shot glasses can quickly add up. We’re recommending a two-ounce shot glass below but ultimately it’s a matter of personal preference.
Shot glasses are good for slow sipping sake, amaro, or any digestif really. Plus, the two-ounce shot glasses give you room to come up with more creative concoctions like our favorite: the Ferrari. But, we’d recommend the all-time classic pairing of a boilermaker. Typically reserved for the dive bar, an at-home boilermaker can be a great party pairing. It doesn’t get any easier really – simply pour a shot of your favorite spirit pair it with a lager (or any beer) of your choice, we recommend Miller High Life. And enjoy.
The Cocktail: Boilermaker
(Your Favorite Spirit + Miller High Life)