Cocktails are back, baby! Over the last few years, the classic cool of mixed drinks has enjoyed a huge resurgence. Bars like Fox Liquor Bar in Raleigh, NC and Back Bar of Somerville, MA celebrate the return of cocktail style, with expert mixologists serving up new spins on old-school adult beverages. Maybe Mad Men is responsible or perhaps it’s a backlash against an era where the market was fueled by beer, cheap wine and malt coolers, but the well-crafted cocktail has returned to the limelight and I couldn’t be happier.
I like a good beer as much as the next guy, but ordering a beverage that says “I’m a grown-up” has an appeal that cannot be denied. A proper cocktail with complex flavors and exotic ingredients is to be savored, not swilled. Served in a glass designed to elevate the gravitas of your choice, every drink is an event. Something about the right glass gives the drink a sense of occasion that stretches beyond the location or sometimes the drink itself. I must even admit to occasional drink envy as others are served beverages in a good-looking vessel, even if I know the contents are not to my taste.
Even if your mixology skills are still developing, having the right glasses on hand goes a long way toward faking it with panache. If you have a favorite drink normally served in a specialty glass, by all means keep that glass on hand, but these nine glasses are enough to cover your bases with flair, no matter what your guests might request. Stocking the liquor cabinet is the first step, but the right glass makes it easy for anyone to look like a pro when the home bar is open for business. So break out that shaker and let’s get started!
Also known as a Martini glass, this iconic glass screams cocktail chic. Wide and shallow with a long stem, the cocktail glass holds about 6 ounces and makes just about anyone holding it look at least a little more sophisticated.
Popular Uses: Martini (and its endless variations), Daiquiri, Manhattan
Also called a lowball or rocks glass, this short, wide 6-8 ounce glass (or 12 ounce double glass) usually has a heavy bottom, providing weight and balance that just plain feels good in your hand. Commonly used for mixed drinks served over ice or for serving “straight pour” servings of liquors like scotch.
Popular Uses: Old Fashioned, Whisky Sour, White Russian
A tall, slender glass perfect for mixed drinks using a lot of ice. Holding 8-12 ounces, this is that tall, cool drink of … whatever that feels good in your hand, keeps soda drinks fizzy and looks great no matter what’s inside.
Popular Uses: Bloody Mary, Gin and Tonic, Dark and Stormy
Similar to the highball glass, but the collins glass is usually slightly taller and narrower, holding 10-12 ounces. Although the collins and highball glasses are interchangeable for many drinks, a slightly different feel and the larger capacity of the collins keep both on my list.
Popular Uses: Long Island Iced Tea, Mojito, Tom Collins
It’s not always about mixed drinks. A good set of wine glasses is a must-have. If wine is your passion it might be worth investing in both red and white glasses (which have different shapes), but wine glasses come in many sizes and shapes. One good set is usually sufficient.
Popular Uses: Wine
The ubiquitous pint “shaker” glass (16 ounces) gained its popularity because it was a cheap, durable and stackable “all-purpose” bar glass. Although purists maintain it isn’t the best glass from which to drink beer, it is the standard these days and having them on hand will give your home bar a professional feel.
Uses: Beer, soft drinks, water
A “hurricane” style stemmed glass with a tulip shape, the 20 ounce Poco Grande may not ring a bell by name, but it is the ideal glass for serving fruity, exotic or tropical drinks without investing in glasses designed for a single cocktail.
Popular Uses: Sangria, Hurricane, frozen cocktails
Irish Coffee Mug
Originally intended for that classic combo of coffee, whisky and cream, the 8 ounce Irish coffee mug is handy whenever hot cocktails are on the menu.
Popular Uses: Irish Coffee, Hot Buttered Rum, Grog
1 ½ ounce glass used to serve single servings of undiluted liquor or single sip layered drinks. Shot glasses are often sold as souvenirs and while an emblem depicting the Grand Canyon or Bettie Page can be a good conversation starter, a matching set of good shot glasses is worth having on hand.
Popular Uses: Tequila, Whisky, B-52