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How to Choose the Right Cocktail Glass: 18 Types of Bar Glasses

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Mar 24, 2020 • 5 min read

Stocking a home bar with the appropriate glassware is an exciting first step on the path to becoming an amateur mixologist. If you’re new to bartending, you might not yet know the difference between a double Old Fashioned glass and a highball glass. Luckily, with a little research, you’ll understand how to use different types of glassware and will be able to shop confidently for the appropriate bar glasses and barware.



Lynnette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana Teach MixologyLynnette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana Teach Mixology

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18 Types of Cocktail Glasses and Bar Glasses

There’s a wide array of bar tools and barware that bartenders are expected to be able to proficiently use while bartending. Whether you’re stocking bar carts around the house or supplying a professional bar, it’s important you understand the differences between some basic cocktail glasses. Here’s a list of the types of glasses you’ll likely find in a well-stocked bar:

  1. Beer glass: Beer is served in a variety of glasses depending on the type of beer. Beer mugs and glasses are a staple of every professional and home bar. Varieties of beer glasses include standard pint glasses, pilsner glasses, and stein glasses.
  2. Brandy snifter: A brandy snifter is a short stemmed glass with a wide bowl that the drinker is meant to cradle in their hand. Most stemmed glasses are meant to prevent heat from transferring from the hand to the cocktail, but the short stem of the brandy snifter is designed to do the opposite.
  3. Champagne flute: Champagne flutes are a type of tall and slender stemware used for champagne and other varieties of sparkling wine. They are designed to prevent heat from transferring from the hand to the champagne and also to keep sparkling wine from going flat. There are a variety of other types of champagne glasses including the champagne tulip and champagne saucer (or champagne coupe), but champagne flutes are the most popular glass for serving sparkling wine.
  4. Collins glass: A tall and skinny glass usually used for mixed drinks, the Collins glass is similar to a highball glass but slightly taller and more narrow. Collins glasses can be used for a variety of mixed drinks including the Tom Collins from which it gets its name.
  5. Irish coffee glass: Irish coffee is traditionally served in a thick glass coffee mug with a sturdy handle to keep the drinker’s hand from being burned. Often Irish coffee glasses have a curved mouth to keep toppings like fizz or whipped cream from spilling over.
  6. Coupe glass: Sometimes used interchangeably with the champagne saucer, the coupe is a wide-bowled stemmed glass used for craft cocktails like the Sidecar and the Aviation.
  7. Copper mug: A Moscow Mule wouldn’t be a Moscow Mule if it wasn’t served in its iconic copper mug. The copper serves to keep the drink chilled with a handle that curves outward to prevent heat transference from the drinker’s hand.
  8. Cordial glass: Designed to hold a very small amount of liquor, the cordial glass (or dessert glass) is generally used for after dinner dessert drinks. It is similar to a shot glass, but with a stem, and holds only two ounces of liquid.
  9. Highball glass: Highball glasses are tall, narrow glasses. They are taller than a rocks glass and shorter than a Collins glass, and they’re perfect for serving mixed drinks or spirits on the rocks.
  10. Hurricane glass: A flamboyantly shaped glass with arcing curvature, Hurricane glasses are generally very large and can usually hold 20 ounces of liquid.
  11. Julep cup: A tin or silver cup specifically made for the Mint Julep, a Julep glass is designed to insulate the shaved ice of a Mint Julep from the heat of a spring Kentucky Derby day.
  12. Margarita glass: Stemmed glasses with a very wide bowl, Margarita glasses are designed to hold blended or iced Margaritas and accommodate salt stuck to the rim for taste and texture.
  13. Martini glass: Martini glasses have been a staple of cocktail glassware since the early 1900s when they were invented as an alternative to the coupe glass. The Martini glass is an iconic cocktail glass, and most home bars house a Martini glass set to make mixed drinks like Martini and Manhattans.
  14. Nick & Nora glass: Nick & Nora glasses are modern versions of the coupe glass that are more bell-shaped than a standard coupe.
  15. Red wine glass: Designed for the bold aroma and flavor of a red wine, standard red wine glasses have a very wide bowl meant to allow the smells of a red wine to waft up towards the drinker’s nose and mouth.
  16. Rocks glass: A rocks glass set is a staple in any home bar. Rocks glasses come in two varieties: single rocks glasses and double rocks glasses. Both are small and sturdy, with the double being slightly larger than the single glass. Rocks glasses can be used for serving spirits neat or on the rocks as well as cocktails like the Old Fashioned.
  17. Glencairn whisky glass: These glasses were developed as tasting glasses by the Glencairn distillery in Scotland and are now considered the standard whiskey glasses by most Scotch whisky aficionados. They are shaped like a tulip with a wide base curving up to a narrower brim.
  18. White wine glass: White wine glasses look very similar to red wine glasses but are slightly narrower because the lighter smells and tastes require less space to mix and aerate.

How to Choose the Right Cocktail Glasses

Not every home bar needs to be fully stocked with every type of cocktail glass. There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing which types of glasses to buy for your own bar including:

  • Cost: Cocktail and drinking glasses can be very expensive. If you’re new to mixology, consider starting with a few basic types of drinkware and then expanding your collection over time.
  • Ease of use: Some cocktail glasses are easier to use and clean then others. When choosing between a normal Martini glass and a stemless Martini glass, for instance, you might want to consider which one is more durable. Cocktail glasses are more fragile than other kitchen staples like stainless steel cookware or even ceramic plates. If ease of use is important to you, keep an eye out for sturdy glasses and dishwasher safe labels when shopping.
  • Space: If you’re stocking a home cocktail bar with limited space, you might want to cut back on the number of tumblers and stemmed glasses you purchase. Consider how much shelving you have to store your glassware and whether or not you’ll need extra space down the road for dinnerware, flatware, and other kitchen staples.
  • Types of drinks: Before you rush out and stock your shelves with specialty cocktail glassware, ask yourself what types of drinks you’re likely to make and whether or not you have the right equipment to make them. Make sure to buy bar tools like strainers, cocktail shakers, and cutting boards so you know what types of drinks you can make, before buying the appropriate glassware.
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