The Kathy Kuo Home Glassware Guide: Cocktail Glasses

10 Mar.,2023


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Is there anything better than your favorite cocktail at the end of a long work day? Well…I can think of one thing: Your favorite cocktail served in the perfect glass! Most of us have simply made do with our everyday glasses when it comes to cocktail hour, but having the proper glass for your drink of choice is a huge upgrade and can make your mixed libation all the more satisfying and special.

Much like how there are differently shaped glasses designed specifically for red wine, white wine, rosé, and champagne (see Part 1 of our Glassware Guide HERE), there is an array of differently shaped glasses meant for different types of cocktails. So before you host your next gathering, be sure to read through Part 2 of our Glassware Guide for all of our expert tips and tricks for shopping for cocktail glasses as you stock your home bar–from martinis to margaritas, and beyond. Cheers!

Martini Glasses

Though red wine is usually my beverage of choice when happy hour rolls around, I must confess that a nice, strong martini is my cocktail of choice when I’m in the mood for liquor. Perhaps it’s because a martini is always in style! And whether you take yours with vodka or gin, olives or a twist–or even a specialty take on the drink like an espresso martini or an appletini–the proper glass is essential to the experience. 

Perhaps few glassware silhouettes are as iconic as the classic martini glass. Fun fact: These stunners are more than just aesthetically pleasing; in fact, every aspect of the vessel’s construction is designed to enhance your sipping experience.

Martini glasses typically have a long stem so that you can hold them without touching the bowl of glass and warming it with your hand (no one wants a room temperature martini). The wide brim was originally implemented in order to allow for floral gins to open up and let their bouquets breathe; and the sloped sides prevent the drink’s ingredients from separating and also conveniently allow for the resting of a garnish on a toothpick. 

The  Simon Pearce Modern Benson Martini Glass

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Whiskey Tumblers & Decanters

If whiskey is your liquor of choice, we recommend investing in a quality decanter, as well as tumblers or rocks’ glasses. Classic cut-glass tumblers or rocks’ glasses are typically crafted from thicker and sturdier glass. This makes them easy to grasp and easy to swirl lightly to release the aromas and flavors in your whiskey on the rocks or whiskey-based cocktail (like an Old Fashioned). The wide rim of most whiskey tumblers also aids in the release of the layered scents you’re likely to get from a good whiskey. 

Some whiskey glasses feature a heavier base of glass, crystal, or marble (we love this marble-based one); the thicker base is going to help maintain the temperature of the drink even as it warms from your hands, and, in some cases, without the aid of ice (perfect for those of you who prefer your whiskey neat). 

When it comes to decanters, most experts on spirits will tell you that decanting whiskey doesn’t make as much of a difference in flavor and sipping experience as it would for wine. That said, an air-tight decanter can safely store your whiskey for years to come and also adds an aesthetic touch to your home bar that is sure to impress and add to the overall design of your space. Decanters also make handsome gifts!

Nude Glass Highland Crystal Whiskey Glass

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Specialty Cocktail Glasses & Highball Glasses

And finally, the most fun and whimsical of our cocktail glasses–the speciality section! Whether you’re whipping up a round of margaritas, palomas, mojitos, or classic gin and tonics, there’s a specialty cocktail glass that perfectly complements your libations.

Margarita Glasses: Like the martini glass, the margarita glass has one of the most recognizable silhouettes at any bar. An evolution of the French coup glass, the classic margarita glass shape is going to have a wide brim (salt optional) with a conical bulb at the bottom. You’ll usually also see a long stem, which is helpful for keeping your marg’ cool, whether you sip it on the rocks or blended. 

Highball Glasses: Featuring a long and tall silhouette, a traditional highball glass is one of the most widely used vessels for all kinds of cocktails. Typically, if you have a basic drink recipe that calls for ice, but doesn’t call for too many ingredients–think a Cape Codder or a Paloma–the highball (which is taller than a rocks’ glass but shorter than a Collins glass) is going to be your glassware of choice. They’re elegant, versatile, and a must-have for any home bar cart.

Gin & Tonic Glasses: Tracing its roots back to 1700s Basque Spain, the Copa de Balon glass (which literally translates to “balloon cup”) is a goblet shape with a super-round bowl and a medium-length stem. Ideally, this type of glass is used for gin-based cocktails that are served with ice, and especially so for gin and tonics. The voluminous bowl allows for the ample release of the aromas present in gin; the shape and size of the bowl also allows for not only a generous amount of ice, but it also helps to maintain the temperature of the glass so the ice lasts longer. The stem is also a nod to keeping your G&T frosty since it lets you hold the beverage without touching the bowl. 

Nude Glass Vintage Crystal Margarita Glass

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