Crafting a cocktail doesn’t just require ingredients and bar tools, it also requires proper glassware. Ever been served a Martini in a red plastic cup? Of course not! Cocktail glasses come in all different shapes and sizes in order to fit and portray specific cocktails properly. Aesthetic appeal is definitely a factor; however, it’s not just about looks. Some glasses are shaped the way they are to bring out the flavors and aromas that the cocktail has to offer, while other glasses are shaped for practical reasons. The following is a list of basic cocktail glassware with descriptions and pictures:
Also referred to as a cocktail glass or an up glass, the martini glass is the classic example of cocktail glassware. A cone shaped bowl on top of a long thin stem, the iconic design is unmistakably recognized as a symbol of culture and class. Bar patrons will often order a drink in this glass by asking for it ‘straight up’. Example: vodka, straight up with olives. This tells the bartender to serve the patron’s vodka in this particular type of glass. Straight up also implies without ice. This glass typically holds anywhere from 4 oz – 10 oz of liquid. Fill up the glass with ice and water to get it chilled and ready for your cocktail (or put it in your freezer for a few minutes). Hold it by its stem while drinking to make sure it stays chilled.
The rocks glass, also referred to as an old-fashioned glass, is a commonly used glass for all kinds of cocktails, mixed drinks, neat pours and on the rocks pours. Always short and usually round, this glass typically holds anywhere from 6 oz – 12 oz of liquid. Ordering a drink ‘on the rocks’ tells the bartender to serve you the drink in this glass, filled with ice. In the bar industry, ‘rocks’ is a slang term for ice. “Lemme get vodka with a couple rocks”, or “I’ll have whiskey with a big rock”, are examples of ways to tell the bartender how much and what kind of ice you would like. A neat pour, on the other hand, tells the bartender that you don’t want any ice. ‘Bourbon neat’, for example, tells the bartender that you would like a pour of bourbon in a rocks glass with no ice.
A highball glass is medium sized, taller and narrower than a rocks glass, and used for a wide variety of cocktails and mixed drinks. Named after the traditional “highball” (whiskey and ginger ale), the highball glass is used for other classic mixed drinks such as rum & coke, gin & tonic and vodka-soda. The glass is also used for cocktails that include juices and other mixers such as Mojito, Sex on the Beach and Tequila Sunrise. A typical highball glass can hold around 10 oz of liquid. Its shape and size make it easy to grasp and allows for an ample amount of mixer. Some bars and restaurant even use highball glasses to serve soda and other soft drinks.
Used for everything from beer to soda to bloody marys, the pint glass is perhaps the most versatile out of all the different types of bar glassware. This glass is named for the amount of liquid it can hold; a pint equals two cups or 16 fluid ounces. Similarly shaped but smaller glasses are often advertised as being pint glasses, however, don’t be fooled by this marketing strategy. Any glass smaller than 16 oz by definition cannot be a pint glass. This glass is thicker than your standard cocktail glass and has sides that slant outwards, making the opening at the top wider than the base.
Easily the most self-explanatory glass of them all, the Margarita glass has one purpose and one purpose only: to hold margaritas. This isn’t without reason, however. The curvature of this glass is sleek and unmistakable, but it’s also optimal for rimming with salt, an optional but popular choice for Margarita drinkers. The glass can vary greatly in size, but a typical margarita glass can hold around 10 oz of liquid. While it’s not forbidden to use this glass for other cocktails, you may get a funny look from your bartender if your order a martini in a Margarita glass. Why? That’s just the way it is.
Curvy, tall and downright sexy, the hurricane glass is no ordinary glassware. Beautifully designed to display cocktails that are brightly colored, the glass is fittingly used mainly for tropical and frozen drinks. Its name comes from the Hurricane (a cocktail first invented at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans and primarily served in this glass) and from its similarity in shape to a hurricane lamp. The shape makes the glass easy to hold, while its height and width allow room for a plethora of ingredients, as is the case for the Hurricane cocktail. The amount of liquid this glass can hold usually falls in the 16 oz – 20 oz range. If you’ve ever wanted to have a cocktail with a little paper umbrella, this is the glass to do it with. The Poco Grande glass is another type of glassware that is very similar in shape but differs with a smaller body on a longer stem.