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Cocktails are a finicky bunch. They require an impeccable balance of ingredients, the proper ice, specific mixing technique, and, last but not least, the perfect vessel in which it’s served. Cocktail glasses may seem frivolous in the grand scheme of things, but they really do make a difference in how flavors are perceived, in addition to the visual appeal. (Drinking a refined cocktail out of a cheap, clunky glass is the drinking equivalent to sporting a bootleg Gucci handbag on a night out—a slight dramatization, but you catch my drift. The details matter.)
In addition to the quality of glass being important, you must not neglect the style. Margaritas don’t belong in highballs; a Tom Collins doesn’t belong in a Martini glass; and you best not serve a Daiquiri in a rocks glass. Just as a glass of bubbly wine should be served in a tulip glass, or coupe, for optimal enjoyment, cocktails should also be served in the appropriately styled glasses.
Glassware can be pricey, but it’s a true expression of art that should be appreciated as such. While the average bar typically avoids investing in fine glassware because of its massive expense, and the frequency of glasses breaking during service, the home bar isn’t in the same predicament and home enthusiasts can easily afford a set of top glassware for imbibing at home. If you are a home bartender looking to upgrade your cocktail glasses, or buy a certain style you may not have yet, here are some recommendations from mixologists all-around the world.
(Editor’s Note: All prices have been translated to USD and may fluctuate depending on the changes in market value.)
For a Martini: Atlas Martini Glasses by Waterford and Connaught Bar Martini Glasses
If you’ve read our story on making a flawless Martini, according to the experts, then these two bars might sound familiar; if not, then you should know that they’re two of the best places to drink Martinis in the world.
While you may not always be able to hop on a flight to London and Singapore for one of these masterpiece Martinis, you can emulate the experience by buying their bespoke Martini glasses for your home bar. The Atlas Art Deco Waterford Martini glasses are finely cut crystal coupes which have been elegantly engraved with the Atlas logo on the base of the stem. The Connaught Bar Martini glasses are in the classic “V” shape with bespoke, hand-decorated etchings to distinguish them from any other Martini glass out there. Sipping from either of these glasses will undoubtedly elevate your home-drinking experience by transporting you to a couple of the best bars in the world from the comfort of your home.
For a Manhattan: Spiegelau Willsberger Anniversary Martini Glass
“[The] Willsberger Martini glass is ideal for the Manhattan cocktail, as well as for other cocktail types served up with no ice, because the coupe enhances the aromas of the cocktail and allows for a flawless drinking experience,” says Fabio Iacomino, head bartender at the Amalfi Coast’s Casa Angelina. Its clever design falls somewhere in between a classic Martini glass and coupe with a “V”-shaped bowl that rounds at the rim to prevent any unwanted spillage.
The Spiegelau’s Willsberger range, designed by Johann Willsberger, has been produced at the company for over thirty years and is a relatively affordable addition for any home bar thanks to the machine-blown technology.
To buy: $59, amazon.com
For an Old Fashioned: Yarai® Rocks Glass
If the Old Fashioned is your go-to drink at home, then having a quality rocks glass is essential. “When I look for new rocks glasses for my home bar, I always look for glassware with a sturdy, wide, and level base so it doesn’t break if I have to use a muddler to break up a sugar cube,” Taylor Duggan, beverage director for Skopos Hospitality, says.
“I default to etched or designed glassware because I think it really adds a layer of character and elegance to cocktails that are served on the rocks. Cocktail Kingdom has sets of six [of the Yarai Rocks Glasses] for an approachable price point.”
To buy: $30, amazon.com
For a Margarita: Utopia Dante Onyx Double Old Fashioned Tumbler
While a Margarita can be served up, it’s always best on the rocks; so this means employing a double rocks glass, or tumbler, to serve. Mixologist Christian Guerrero of Le Blanc Spa Resorts Cancun stocks a range of rocks glasses at the bars on the property, but one of the beverage team’s favorites is the Utopia Dante Onyx double Old Fashioned tumbler. “Even though it’s not the official Margarita glass, it is a glass that looks quite elegant,” Guerrero says. It’s made from quality glass and features a unique spiky cut-glass pattern — perfect if you’re looking for something different to add to your glassware collection.
To buy: from $40, drinkstuff.com
For a Cosmopolitan: Ridgecrest Coupe Glass
The cocktail made famous by the cult-favorite series, Sex in the City, is pretty, pink, and always served up in a chic stemmed glass—specifically, a coupe. “When looking for coupes at home, I tend to get really excited about smaller coupe glasses that save space,” Duggan says. “Also I'm a small person that feels like a giant when drinking out of smaller glassware.”
Duggan recommends the Ridgecrest coupe glass because they're sturdy, easily accessible—sold at Crate & Barrel—and are incredibly cheap. “They're elegant and would look great as a vessel for cocktails, or for sparkling wine if you're going for a prohibition feel.”
To buy: $5, crateandbarrel.com
For a Piña Colada or Mai Tai: Novelty and Tropical Cocktail Mugs
Tropical cocktails like the Piña Colada and Mai Tai typically find themselves served in some sort of ceramic vessel, or an appropriately-sized glass that is then exorbitantly garnished. Eric Alperin, bartender and owner at The Varnish, recommends any sort of novelty mug as he recalls an experience he had participated in a bartending competition in Mexico where he was required to purchase ingredients from an open market.
“I decided to go with a tiki recipe and as a substitute for a standard tiki vessel, I found a 12-ounce coffee mug with a bust of Popocatépetl, one of the most active volcanoes in Mexico,” Alperin says. It was perfectly campy which is a great example of what you can do with all of the touristy mug purchases you have either made or received as gifts. As long as the mugs are minimum twelve ounces to make room for the liquid ingredients and crushed ice.” While you may have some of these lying around at home, Tiki Diablo is an artisanal tiki art designer who creates bespoke mugs for these types of drinks—he’s one of the best in the business and won’t disappoint in the novelty mug department.
To buy: prices vary, tikidiablo.com
For a Daiquiri: Godinger Meridian Coupe
No, not the frozen or strawberry kind. A classic Daiquiri—a shaken mixture of rum, freshly squeezed lime juice, and simple syrup—is best served in a coupe, or Nick and Nora glass. Guerrero from Le Blanc Spa Resorts recommends the Godinger Meridian coupe for this iconic sour cocktail. “[The Godinger Meridian coupe is] ideal for Champagne, but it’s also a widely used model to serve daiquiris,” Guerrero says. “I personally like it because it fools your mind thinking ‘it looks like a very short and delicious drink, what could happen?’” We’ll leave the exploratory research needed to answer that question up to you.
To buy: from $30, macys.com
For a Mojito or Highball: Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Glass Iceberg Barware Collection
“The mojito, due to its ingredients and its preparation, is a cocktail that should stand out naturally, which is why we always present it in our [Schott Zwiesel Tritan] 10° highball glass,” Guerrero says. The Mojito requires a glass that’s clean, simple, elegant, and utilitarian—this Schott Zwiesel selection checks all of those boxes.
To buy: $54, amazon.com
For a Irish Coffee and Hot Toddy: Libbey Georgian Irish Coffee Glass
For hot drinks, you need a durable glass that won’t break due to the thermal shock of hot liquid being poured into it—there is no better choice than the Libbey Georgian Irish Coffee Glass. “Libbey glassware has always proven to take a beating, and even though they feel a touch chunkier than other brands, they’ll last a long time,” Alperin says of the glass which he stocks at his bar, The Varnish. “At the Varnish we adopted these stemmed Libbey 8054 Georgian glasses for our Irish Coffee, Hot Buttered Rum and last but not least our Hot Toddy. It’s a perfect six ounces that keeps the drink hot long enough for you to enjoy, but still order a second one.”
To buy: $29, amazon.com