Cocktail Glasses and When to Use Them

Whether you’re just getting started with mixology or you’ve been making drinks for yourself and guests for some time now, you may be wondering if you’re using the right glasses for the job. After all, there are dozens of different varieties of cocktail glasses out there. Some recipes call for specific ones, while others leave it up to you to decide. This can all be more than a little confusing, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the styles of cocktail glasses out there to help you get a better idea of what you’re doing at the bar. Take a look at our list below to help you get started.

Beer mug: This is a given, most likely! This is a glass mug that’s designed for holding beer. It has a handle and is usually made of very thick glass so you can put it in the freezer to chill it before serving. A beer mug can hold anywhere between 10 to 16 ounces of liquid depending on the size and is usually used for pouring tap beers—although some people may open their bottles or cans and pour them out into the mug as well. This is a staple of bars and restaurants everywhere.

Cocktail glass: Another common glass you’re sure to see just about everywhere, the cocktail glass is most often associated with martinis—although a true, traditional martini glass has a slightly less rounded bowl. A cocktail glass is built for shaken and stirred drinks and is found in most bars as well as at many parties and gatherings. This glass has a long stem that can be used for holding the drink to prevent the heat of your hand from warming it up too much. It’s also more open at the top than some other glasses, making it ideal for garnishes.

Collins glass: Some people confuse the Collins and highball glasses, although they are not quite the same thing. A Collins glass is narrower and can hold between 10 to 14 ounces of liquid depending on the size. It’s ideal for drinks that are served over ice, and is especially nice for a mojito. This glass can also be used for a Long Island Iced Tea and any other summery drinks that need to be layered for their presentation. There is a taller variant known as a chimney glass that can hold a little more and is used for Mai Tais, usually with an umbrella.

Highball glass: This is one of the essential bar glasses that can be found almost everywhere. The highball glass is a great solution for almost any drink when you don’t have another more appropriate glass on hand. However, its lack of a stem will cause your hands to heat up the drink sooner than other types of glasses might. This glass is regularly used for Mint Juleps but may also be used for the Highball, which it gets its name from. It is sometimes used in place of a Collins glass for similar layered drinks and is another good solution for drinks over ice.

Old Fashioned glass: This is a glass that is, unsurprisingly, used for serving an Old Fashioned. However, it does have other uses and is another important addition to a home bar. This glass holds between 4 and 8 ounces, although there is a Double Old Fashioned glass that holds 12 to 18 ounces instead. This glass features a heavy bottom that holds up to muddling, making it great for any drinks that require this step. It’s also good for serving scotch and soda over ice. It may also be known as a whiskey glass, as it’s used for having shots of whiskey over ice as well.

Hurricane glass: This is a glass you’ve probably seen if you’ve ever gotten a drink at the beach. The glass has a curved bowl that’s very tall and shaped like a hurricane lamp, which is where it gets its name—and how it helped to named the New Orleans-based Hurricane cocktail as well. This glass is used for frozen drinks as well as any tropical drink over ice, and since it has a small stem, it can allow you to hold the glass without making your hands too cold (or the drink too hot) as you sip and relax.

Margarita glass: This one may go without saying, but this glass is perfect for margaritas. The glass usually holds 6 ounces, but it may hold 8 ounces if it’s one of the larger variants. It has a very familiar bowl shape with two “separate” sections that allow the drink to really look aesthetically pleasing when it sits in the glass. This glass can also be used for holiday drinks and is another good solution for serving any blended summery drinks, too, especially if you don’t have a Hurricane glass on hand to use instead.

Wine glasses: Did you know there are different types of wine glasses? A glass for red wine holds more than one for white wine, and it has a wider mouth so you can smell the aromas more easily. This glass also comes in a 16 ounce version known as a balloon wineglass, which is used more often for Burgundy than other type of red wine. White wine glasses may sometimes be used for serving drinks over ice as well, while red wine glasses may be chosen for a more elegant sangria or highball serving vessel instead.

Now that you’ve learned a little bit about cocktail glasses, you may be ready to rush out and start making drinks for yourself and everyone you know! Don’t forget to stock up on all the ingredients and mix-ins you’ll need, and buy a few of the glasses you think you’ll be using, too. This way, you’ll be prepared the next time you have company and want to make a drink for them, and you’ll be ready to host parties and show your prowess at the bar with your newfound knowledge, too.

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