Updated: Jun 29
Let's start off with, there is no wrong choice in drinking vessel, so if you're a true hipster and only use mason jars as your glassware... all the power to you.
However, the world of cocktails is generally as particular as they come, and as a home bartender it can be overwhelming trying to keep up with what's right and what's old news. Plus, this is some nerdy stuff.
There are two main considerations when deciding what glassware to use.
How much volume is your cocktail?
What kind of ice, if any, are you using?
These factors will generally determine what glass is best suited to your cocktail. You could consider other things like garnish, aesthetic, or comfort, for example, but, at the end of the day, whatever makes you happy is the right choice.
Here are what we consider the top cocktail glassware categories (listed from oldest to newest, according to the internet). Below we describe the glassware, general volumes, the typical cocktails served and whether to use ice or not.
The rocks glass, also known as a Low-ball, is the oldest, and arguably, the simplest and most versatile cup design. A rocks glass can have straight or slightly tapered sides. They can be ostentatiously ornate, or boringly plain.
Rocks glasses come in two general sizes. Traditional volume is 6-10 ounces, while a ‘double’ can range from 12-14 ounces.
Rocks glasses are great for cocktails that are built in the glass itself, and for muddled ingredients. Classic rocks cocktails include such beauties such as the Negroni, Old fashioned, Black Russian, Sazerac and the Margarita (wait, what? You’re probably thinking, “but isn’t there a designated margarita GLASS!?” And we be like, “Ya bro, you’re totally right, but this glass is more traditional, and better”). We recommend checking out our Clockwork Orange cocktail.
Cocktails used in this glass almost always have some kind of ice served in them. Hence the name. When you say, “on the rocks” you’re asking for your drink to be over ice. Large ice cubes have been made specially for rocks glasses called King Cubes or Ice Spheres. the ice can come in many shapes and is meant to keep your drink cold.
Originally known as the Champagne Coupe, this glass style was , you guessed it, the original way to consume champagne. However, since the age of the French Empire, people discovered that the flute shape is better suited to hold the bubbly wine. The coupe was since been repurposed for cocktails. Within the last century, it's risen as the most popular cocktail glass. The wide rim allows for the drinker to really take in the aromas while sipping the cocktail, and the stem prevents our warm hands from heating up the drink. Many coupe cocktails are quite strong, as they do not have room for ice or much juice.
This is definitely our favourite cocktail glass, not only for functionality, but they just look so dang fancy and fun. Most bartenders have stopped using the v-shaped martini glass in favour of the coupe, as it reduces spillage and allows for more swirling.
Most drinks that go in a coupe are shaken or stirred, then served without ice. Bartenders will often chill the glass itself to help keep the drink colder for longer.
Regular coupe glasses range in volume from 3-6 ounces.
Popular coupe cocktails are the Aviation, Corpse Revivor #2, Bee’s Knees, Cosmopolitan, Gimlet, Daquiri, our own Debate, and the list goes on…
Named after the Collins style cocktails (i.e. Tom Collins, or John Collins) this glassware is very similar to the Highball glass. In fact, so similar you can usually use them interchangeably and no one will notice, as long as your volume ratios are correct! The only difference is that a true Collins glass is taller than other glassware of similar shape.
A Collins glass is noted for being tall and slim, ranging from 10-14 oz.
It’s a tall glass for tall drinks served with ice. It's great for carbonated drinks, juicy cocktails, or anything that requires a lot of volume.
Common Collins glass cocktails are the Mojito, Ramos Gin Fizz, Singapore Sling, Gin & Tonic, Long Island ice tea, and our own Notorious R.B.G.
No one really knows where the martini glass comes from and who made it. All we know is that it started becoming popular around American prohibition. It’s managed to stick around the cocktail scene, although to the deep chagrin of most bartenders and cocktail connoisseurs. The martini glass isn’t the most ideal cocktailing, since it’s not very good at keeping liquid in the glass. When serving drinks in this iconic V-shaped glass, good luck trying not to spill while manoeuvring through a bar.
Although the martini is incredibly iconic, it has been dethroned by the coupe as the most popular stemmed cocktail glass, as they are used for many of the same type of cocktails.
Martini glasses can be anywhere from 3 to 12 ounces in volume, so choose yours wisely! It isn't abnormal to see a crushed ice cocktail in a large martini glass.
Traditional cocktails include the Martini and the Manhattan.
NICK & NORA GLASS
Think of a Nick & Nora glass as a slightly shorter & narrower coupe, or more bell shaped. This glassware functions identically to the coupe glass, and can be used for pretty much all the same cocktails. It’s like the Coupe’s cute little sister.
Drinks served in the Nick & Nora glass should never contain ice.
Nick & Nora glass generally holds 3-5 ounce volumes.
We recommend trying our Finger Gunz recipe for this glass!
The Hurricane glass is the largest glassware in our list. Perhaps a lesser-known household name, it has an eye-catching curvy shape, modelled after something called a Hurricane Lamp. It is a popular tropical or Tiki cocktail glass, often seen garnished with chunks of pineapple, oranges or cherries.
At a 20-ounce volume, this glassware is intended to hold drinks that use a lot of juice, ice and alcohol.
The Hurricane glass has its own signature cocktail of the same name. It’s also a popular glass for the Piña Colada, Blue Lagoon, and the Hawaiian Sunrise.
The flute glass has surprisingly not been around for very long, and was brought to popularity in full force for it’s ability to hold champagne bubbles. This is why it’s ideal for any champagne or sparkling wine cocktails. The stem also helps prevent heat transfer from our hot hands.
A flute is generally 6 oz, but can range by +/- an ounce.
Cocktails that use a flute are not served with ice. This means the flute is ideally chilled in a fridge before use.
Some top flute cocktails are the Mimosa, French 75 and the Bellini.