The world of cocktail glassware is vast, and if you’ve ever tried to set up a home bar or stock a bar chart, you’ve probably run into a few questions. What is the difference between a collins and a highball? Is it really worth having V-shaped martini glasses? Which size coupe is best? It doesn’t need to be difficult or costly to buy cocktail glasses. According to Matt Piacentini, owner of the Up & Up, a cocktail bar in the West Village, his team uses just five different types of cocktail glasses to make most of the drinks on its menu. Joaquin Simo, the partner at Pouring Ribbons and Tales of the Cocktail’s American Bartender of the Year in 2012, makes it even simpler. You can make 90% of your drinks in rocks, collins, and good all-purpose cocktail glasses.
No matter what you put in them, choosing the right cocktail glasses is a matter of taste. “Especially during the pandemic, people really started thinking about their barware and how it fits into their home, their personal taste, and vibe,” says Matt Landes, founder of Cocktail Academy. “For example, we might not use smoked glassware at a restaurant bar, because patrons can’t see the drink, but at home, that could fit right in with your aesthetic.” The first rule of thumb, says David Fudge, co-founder of nonalcoholic-spirit brand Aplos, is picking something you would actually enjoy drinking out of, because “it’s all about elevating the whole experience. I find that drinking from an antique crystal glass is more enjoyable and has a better taste.
We spoke with 12 bartenders to find the perfect match for you.
A coupe glass is the most preferred cocktail glass, especially for those who enjoy making their own cocktails. The coupe is the preferred glass in modern bars. The coupe holds six ounces. This means that you are drinking what Piacentini calls “civilized” amounts of alcohol. You can choose a coupe with seven to eight ounces of glassware if you prefer your drink to not reach the top edge. Kimberly Hunter, CEO, and founder of Potent Pours appreciate the wider rim because that “means lots of garnish. It’s versatile too, I can drink Champagne without worrying about losing my bubbles.
Coupe clear plastic shot glasses are good for cocktails served “up,” meaning they’ve been shaken or stirred with ice and then served chilled, without ice — like a martini — or even “froze,” as Supergay Spirits co-founder Aaron Thorp suggests. You don’t have to heat the drink with your hands while you drink it. Although you could spend hundreds on a set, it is probably not the best place to spend your entire glassware budget. Piacentini says that superexpensive coupe glasses are more likely to break than a less expensive set.
These glasses are sometimes called champagne glasses, but Landes believes they are the best vessel to learn how to make good cocktails at home. He says that size is crucial if you want to improve your skills. “It’s an indicator that you’ve portioned out the right amount of everything.” You can buy single glasses on Amazon, but if you want to go in on
Hunter recommends these affordable, speakeasy-style coupe glasses, which she says her clients love. They weigh eight ounces so they are great for people who don’t want to spill or for anyone who wants more space for garnish.
Thorp prefers a traditional set over the trendy or fancy options. This set is great for the job and comes in a 6-pack for $40.
Evie Negri-Albert, best known on TikTok and Instagram as Drinks by Evie, prefers something a little more upscale to the traditional coupe glass. These glasses are delicate and dramatic, making them ideal for Instagram-friendly guests or impressing friends.
These textured glasses are also recommended by Negri-Albert. These glasses weigh ten ounces which are four ounces more than most experts recommend. This gives you plenty of space for garnish and the assurance that they won’t break easily.
These show-stoppers are worth the price if you don’t mind spending a little. Apple’s co-founder Jessica Manley believes that glassware should make you happy. She is drawn to Sir/Madam’s colorful, spunky glasses. They have a vintage feel to them and come in unique colors such as “moonglow”, “menthe,” or “salmon”. These can also be used as kitchen decor. They are dishwasher-safe and made from sturdy glass.
Tiffanie Barriere, the founder of the Drinking Coach, calls these glasses “some of the best cocktail coupes I’ve seen in my entire life.” The six-piece set comes in blue, pink, or green and is handblown in Poland — which explains the price tag. If you’d like to spend a little less, these colored coupes from West Elm might be a good alternative.
Landes believes the classic V-shaped martini glasses should be reintroduced. He says that they fell out of fashion as things go. However, it’s funny that some people claim they are difficult to drink from. They’re actually easier to drink. With the smallest angle change, the drink flows right into your mouth.
Piacentini explains that a single rocks glass can be used for “anything neat, any spirit on rocks”, but you could also use it to make chilled, stirred, or spirituous cocktails. They are chilled but served in a glass with no stem. One such example is a Negroni, points out John Sergentakis — the regional sales manager for Nolet’s Gin — made with gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. Piacentini prefers rocks glasses over brandy snifters because you can smell the aromas more clearly.
Simo says that the ideal single rocks glass should weigh between 8 and 10 ounces. Simo says that the ideal single rocks glass is between eight and ten ounces. Piacentini says that those glasses are where you’re most likely have the drink you take the longest to consume. You don’t want to sit in a leather chair and drink for 45 minutes, but you can if the drink is nice and stirred with a lot of ice. It will last that long.” Therefore, it is worth spending a little extra on heavy-bottomed rocks glasses that feel good in your hands.
Our experts believe that rocks glasses are worth the money, but it’s always a good idea to look into budget options. Barriere says, “I don’t hesitate to say Ikea does it right.” They’re consistent and you don’t get mad if you break one. You just go buy another and it’s all fine. It’s a ten-ounce, so it’s a bit larger than single-rocks glasses. The ridges give it a unique look that makes it stand out from regular glasses. Barriere says that people will be impressed when I say “Oh, I really like this glass” to them.
Barriere was a fan of the coupe glasses, but he also noted that there are other options available such as wine glasses with or without stems or these rocks glasses. These sophisticated glasses are inspired by vintage glassware and will last a lifetime thanks to their high-quality glass.
Negri-Albert agrees rocks glasses are essential for classic cocktails. She recommends Nude Glass if she has to buy new glasses. This ridged model is her favorite, but there are many options available.
A double rocks glass is sometimes called a double-old-fashioned. It should be two ounces smaller than a single rocks glasses, and not twice as big. Jake Ireland, CEO and founder of bourbon brand Off Hours, keeps this style of glass on his own bar, noting it works for “any way you take your bourbon — neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail.” Because of the larger size, it’s a touch more versatile than the single rocks glass, since it can fit more. We would make a julep with those glasses, using crushed ice. Piacentini says that you can always have more room or a Manhattan on rocks or an old-fashioned if you feel like you need it. These glasses can also be used to serve margaritas instead of a margarita glass. If you only have one type of rocks glass to choose from, the double rocks glasses are more versatile.
Ireland describes the CB2 set as “affordable, modern and classic at the same moment.” It comes in eight sets so there’s plenty of glasses for post-pandemic parties. They are also affordable, but Ireland claims they are still of high quality.
These CB2 glasses from Negri-Albert are recommended for those with limited space. They can be stacked up so that they take up less space on your bar cart or bar. They’re also convenient but still look nice and mature.
Hunter claims she is literally drooling over all of the CB2 glasses, but this particular one is her favorite because it has enough room to garnish the top.
Thorp says, “I like something super-utilitarian to use as a double rocks glass. It should be simple and elegant.” Because they are classic-looking, functional, and stylish, the Libbey glasses suit him perfectly. They’re also a great deal: 12 glasses for $50 and each glass just under $4.
These are $50 per piece, which is a lot of money, but Ireland promises that they will last a lifetime. He also notes that each one is unique and handcrafted by Andrew Hughes in Brooklyn.
Technically, there is a difference between a collins and a highball: “A highball” is a tall skinny glass. Piacentini states that a collins is simply a taller glass. The Collins glass is usually two ounces heavier than the highball. This is due to their higher height. You don’t need both. Negri-Albert states that the terms can be interchanged in the drink industry so there is no need to go into detail.
These tall, cylindrical glasses can be used for vodka-sodas and gin-and tonics. They also work well for whiskey and gingers. They’re also “super-acceptable for nonalcoholic drinks,” adds Negri-Albert. In terms of size, larger is not always better. Simo says that a collins glass of 16 ounces is too heavy. Simo says, “You’ll be fine with a 12-ounce highball, or a collins, glass.” Sergentakis estimates that 90 percent of the drinks I served as a bartender were poured into a highball glass.
Thorp says that Kimura is her favorite brand for highballs. Fudge also recommends it. They are expensive but they feel great in your hands. You can also shop for other types of glass, including coupes and wine glasses.
This Nude Glass set, recommended by Negri–Albert, is very similar to the Kimura Glass options. Although it may not be as delicate or thin, it costs less than half of the original price.
Negri-Albert loves this elegant and simple highball glass. It’s also part of a full collection, so you can outfit your whole bar with this cut-line style.
These glasses, like most CB2 options, are inexpensive and easy to replace. They also look great. They feel slightly more premium despite having a heavier base. However, their walls are still thin so they feel better.
Landes says that the ripple glass was the glass for 2020. However, they still look great in 2021. This style seemed to be in high demand and companies were copying it. These look elegant, but they have a touch of intrigue due to the texture sides and different-sized bases.
Nick and Nora’s glasses have started to be as popular in craft cocktail bars as coupes. Piacentini says that Noras and Nick are bell-shaped and fall somewhere between a wine glass and a coupe glass. In a perfect world, Nick and Nora glasses would be great for stirring-up drinks, while coupe glasses are ideal for shaking-up drinks. The smaller Nick and Nora glasses can hold three to four ounces of liquid. If you want to reduce the amount of glassware you use, a Nick or Nora glass is a good choice. However, a nice cup would also work well. Nick and Nora’s can be a bit more difficult to source because they are rarer.
Landes says that Crate & Barrel does a “good job of keeping on trend.” He particularly likes the brand’s Nick glasses and Nora glasses. These glasses feel more refined than many models in restaurant catalogs in terms of “density” and “form.” They also allow for some garnishing.
This set of four glasses by Food52 is also very popular. A “full-bar” set of 16 glasses is also available. It includes coupe, martini, and fizz glasses, as well as Nick and Nora glasses.
Shelley Kleyn Armistead is a partner in Gjelina Group and is responsible for interior design as well as tableware. However, the Gjelina Group actually uses the medium size for margaritas at their restaurants. These durable-made beauties can be used in both the kitchen and bar. These beauties are currently available for preorder and will be back in stock by the end of August.
Landes says that “Tiki glasses can sometimes look theatrical,” but “until they meet Viski,” these glasses are sophisticated and elegant, with details such as carved faces, different-sized bubble-ridges and gold armor. Landes states that the glasses are both elegant and fun. The Crystal Highball glasses he pointed to in particular are currently sold out, though you can get notified when they become available — and shop the brand’s other delightful options in the meantime.
Piacentini says that it is up to individual taste. He doesn’t like “traditional shot glasses that are stubby, wide, and have the line around them.” Sergentakis loves any style of shot glass as long as it’s clear. Both Sergentakis and Piacentini agree that shot glasses should not be full to the top. They should also be large enough that they don’t spill. Sergentakis says that if you fill a shot glass to the top with an ounce, it can get messy. “Ounce and a half shot glass. I recommend that you pour one ounce into it to give yourself a chance to cheer.”
This set of eight is made from strong glass. They are less about a “college frat party”, but more like adults having a great time.