Remember when bars were a thing? The ability to sit at a bar and enjoy a good cocktail is still a ways off. Since we can’t actively engage in bar life, it’s time to bring the bar life home. The first step in making your own bar? Stocking up on the right booze. The second? The right glassware. And while you could just invest in red Solo cups the rest of your life, think about that. Do you really want to be known as that guy? No. No, you don’t. Solo Cup Steve is not a becoming nickname for anyone. That’s why it’s important to invest in some decent bar glassware for the next time you want to drink something.
Best Beer Glasses
Luminarc Pint Glass
If you’re going to drink beer, you’re going to want pint glasses. While you can drink your favorite beer or cider straight out of a bottle or can and while, in the past few years, there have been a variety of designs for specific types of beer glasses, having a couple pint glasses around such as this 4-set is a solid option for just about any beer.
Libbey Craft Brews Assorted Beer Glasses
Hardcore beer fans will tell you the type of glass they would like to drink from to accentuate their favorite brew’s flavors. Maybe your friends even tell you their favorite beer. Fortunately, the lead-free glassware set from Libbey Craft Brews offers a variety of designs to cater to every type of beer, from Belgian ale to pilsner, enhancing the drinking experience for both liquor connoisseurs and enthusiasts. Be sure to use the 20-ounce craft pub glass so you can savor the frothy goodness of freshly poured beer, though the smaller glasses are not too shabby either.
Best Wine Glasses: Red, White, and Sparkling
Paksh Novelty Italian Wine Glasses
Just as with beer glasses, the wide range of wine glass styles is a whole topic all its own, but this Italian-made set from Paksh Novelty covers the basics very nicely. The bulb of the glasses has a nice subtle styling that sets these apart from typical wine glasses without being too garish or odd-looking.
Stemless wine glasses are a bit of a fad now, but we suggest sticking with the classic stemmed design (it’s still the best way to enjoy wine) and simply washing by hand – which is actually good practice for all of your home bar glassware unless you’re frequently hosting large drinking parties. The Paksh Novelty wine glasses offer a lot of value for Italian-made drinkware that’s head and shoulders above the stuff you’re likely to find in most stores.
Elixir Red Wine Glasses
Another staple, red wine glasses come in a more round shape to air out the wine. When it comes to wine glasses there are two general shapes: one made for white and rosé wine (a little taller) and one made for red wine (more balloon-shaped) such as the one here. You can also choose from several different sizes (ranging from around eight ounces up to as many as twenty) and styles (stemless, for instance), but having a couple wine glasses for each kind will really help when you’re trying to get the most out of your vino. In addition, sparkling wine glasses are handy as they are designed to get the most out of your bubbly.
Best Shot Glasses
Gmark 2-Ounce Shot Glasses
If you’re the fun-loving party type or if you just prefer a quick stiff drink to cradle a whiskey glass after a long day, then the iconic shot glass is a must-have. Typical shot glasses hold 1.5 to two ounces of liquor and are made with a thick base (no doubt to withstand drinkers slamming them down on the bar after downing the contents). Shot glasses are also useful for times where you might want to only sample small amounts of something, such as for taste tests or whiskey flights.
Most shot glasses basically look like tiny pint glasses, but we like these taller two-ounce Gmark shot glasses for the simple reason that (aside from being more attractive) they can also be used as cordial glasses for aperitif and digestif liqueurs while still serving perfectly as a regular glass for straight shots and mixed shooters. The taller design is also great for showing off your own layered shots.
JoyJolt 6-Pack Heavy Base Shot Glass Set
A multi-purpose glass, the shot glass is good for everything from measuring for cocktails to pouring one out when you plan on slamming it down. Need we say more?
Best Whiskey Glass
When you think of “whiskey glass,” you probably imagine Don Draper sipping bourbon or rye on ice from a rocks glass. Times have changed in more ways than one, and if you enjoy sipping whiskey (or “whisky,” if Scotch is more your thing) neat – that is, without water or ice – then the Glencairn glass is what you need. This tulip-shaped vessel was developed by world-renowned distillers and whisky experts and is designed to direct the aroma of your liquor to your nose, fully bringing out the subtle notes that are lost with traditional wide-mouthed tumblers.
It might sound like a gimmick, but it absolutely works and does indeed enhance the drinking experience. We challenge you to do a side by side taste test with a Glencairn and a standard rocks glass to see for yourself. Chances are good that you’ll start appreciating your favorite bourbon even more. At around six or seven bucks a pop, whiskey doesn’t get much better than this, so grab a two-pack or a four-pack and sip those oaky barrel-aged liquors the right way.
Schott Zwiesel Convention Old Fashioned Glasses
When it comes to whiskey there are multiple whiskey glasses and whiskey decanters to choose from when it comes to this spirit. A rocks glass, also commonly called an Old Fashioned glass (after the iconic cocktail), is typically associated with whiskey. Although we think the Glencairn is far and away the top choice for drinking whiskey neat, this set of six German-made Schott Zwiesel Convention Old Fashioned glasses is still a must-have for cocktails such as, well, an Old Fashioned, or anything else you’re going to enjoy “on the rocks.”
The wider base gives you room for ice (the “rocks” from which these are named) and for mixing cocktails right inside the glass, which is the traditional way to make drinks like the Old Fashioned. The Schott Zwiesel Convention Old Fashioned glass is also crafted of gorgeous and substantial lead-free Tritan glass, a hefty crystal-like material with a thick base that gives it a wonderfully weighty feel in your hand.
Godinger Cigar Whiskey Glass
The gold standard for whiskey folks is an Old Fashioned (rocks) glass and that’s usually accompanied with a cigar. Whether you want it neat, in an Old Fashioned, or you want something else entirely, the Old Fashioned (or rocks) glass is essential to a successful home back. Why not try this fun conversation glassware piece?
Glencairn Whiskey Glass
If you’ve ever been to a whisky tasting, chances are you’ve used a Glencairn glass. They look like what would happen if a shot glass and a brandy snifter had a night of fun together, and they are great for drinking whiskey of all sorts. The design allows you to nose your whiskey in the proper way while still holding a healthy dram worth of the good stuff.
Best Highball Glass
Paksh Novelty Italian Highball Glasses
The aptly named highball glass is a classic standby that’s used for all sorts of cocktails, particularly tall, cold drinks (of the type that you often fill with ice) that are popular in the dog days of summer when you want to stay cool and slake your thirst with something more refreshing than whiskey or brandy. We suggest keeping the style simple with a highball, and these fine Italian-made glasses – another offering from Paksh – fit the bill beautifully.
There’s also the “Collins” glass (named after the Tom Collins cocktail), which is similar to the highball but taller and narrower. Sometimes “highball” and “Collins” are used interchangeably even though they’re different, and the Collins glass could really be considered a type of highball. If you only get one, however, the regular highball is the more versatile of the two and is also perfect as a “normal” drinking glass for non-alcoholic iced drinks like tea.
JoyJolt Highball Glass
While the highball glass may look similar to the Collins glass, it is shorter and wider. Made for — you guessed it — highballs, this glass typically holds between eight to 12 ounces, this set of four holds 14.2 ounces, making it perfect for two ounces of liquor, a few ounces of your chosen mixer, and ice. You could use this interchangeably with a Collins glass if you had to, but it’d be good to have one or two of each on hand just in case.
An open-mouthed, shallow cocktail glass, the coupe glass is great not only for cocktails but for drinking Champagne. The glass was modeled on the breast of King Louis XV’s mistress. We’re not kidding.
Best Brandy Snifter Glasses
Schott Zwiesel Mondial Brandy Snifters
The brandy snifter is basically a chubbier, shorter wine glass, but it’s essential for getting the most out of this unique spirit. Brandy is, after all, made from wine. It’s actually wine that’s been distilled and is sometimes aged in barrels; the name “brandy” comes from “brandywine” which is derived from the Dutch word for “burnt wine” (as in, “branded wine”). The Schott Zwiesel Mondial snifter has a short stem and wide base because you’re supposed to hold it by the glass rather than the stem, while the large 17-ounce bowl lets you swirl it around inside the glass.
Wrapping your hand underneath the snifter’s bulb warms the drink with your body heat to best bring out that unique combination of winey and oaky flavors and aromas. The Mondial brandy snifters can also pull double duty for rich beers like porters, barrel-aged releases, and strong ales (barleywine, Scotch ale, and so forth), so these pair nicely with the Libbey pint glasses as part of your beer-quaffing loadout – but if you drink a lot of those, we still recommend getting some proper.
Riedel Vinum Brandy Snifter
A commanding presence on any shelf of glassware, a brandy snifter is designed so that your hand can warm the brandy inside. The rim of the glass is narrower than the bowl so that the aromas released by the slight warming stay trapped in the glass. This is also a great option for serving whiskies and other high-end spirits.
Cocktail or Martini Glass
Libbey Capone Speakeasy Coupe Glasses
Ditch the triangle-shaped martini glasses and jump on board with the new hotness: the coupe glass. This style of up glass (so called for cocktails served “up”) is basically a cross between a martini glass and a margarita glass, and it’s a great way to serve and enjoy martinis, margaritas, Manhattans, and other cocktails that start with “M.” Better still, unlike a traditional martini glass, the awesomely Prohibition-era-styled Libbey Capone Speakeasy Coupe Glass is a lot less likely to slosh its contents over the rim and onto the bar or the floor after you’ve had a few.
Coupe glasses also allow you to swirl drinks in them if you’re so inclined – although that’s obviously not something you’re going to attempt with a drink that comes to the brim. They’re also becoming a popular alternative to tall flute-style glasses for sipping champagne, which makes the Libbey couple glasses even more versatile than the triangular up glasses of yesteryear.
Luminarc Atlas Goblet
Call it a cocktail glass or call it a Martini glass, just don’t call it late for happy hour. Kidding. The cocktail glass works for a number of cocktails that are chilled and served up.
Libbey Sherry Glass
Sherry glasses usually hold three or four ounces and are ideal for aperitifs, digestifs, and cordials. In addition, obviously, they are intended to hold sherries and other fortified wines, such as ports.
Godinger Dublin Cordial Glasses
Cordial glasses, also known as liqueur glasses, are one-ounce in sized and come in a variety of shapes, almost all usually featuring long stems. They are used to serve, as you’ve probably already guessed, cordials and liqueurs.
Nick & Nora Glass
Named for Nick & Nora Charles, the main characters in Dashiell Hammet’s The Thin Man (which was made into a film starring William Powell and Myrna Loy), the Nick & Nora cocktail glass does many of the same things as a coupe or a martini glass, but is smaller in size and is more spill-proof, making it slightly more versatile. The Renaissance of these glasses started in the mid-2000s, but during their first run, characters like Nick & Nora Charles drank out of them constantly.
Bormioli Rocco Hurricane Glasses
A cocktail glass on steroids, the hurricane glass usually fits up to 20 ounces of sweet, sweet liquor. Named for the Hurricane cocktail, a rum drink created at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans, scores of other large cocktails have been created to fit the size of the year. If you’re planning a Tiki party or want to have one hell of a backyard barbecue, these will come in very handy.
Irish Coffee Mug
Luminarc Irish Footed Mug
Ever plan to make hot cocktails? If so, the Irish coffee mug should be your go-to. With a stem and a handle, not only do these have a classic look, but the clear glass allows you to see the beautiful concoction inside. Named for the drink, they work well with any hot cocktail, thanks to the thickness of the glass.
Copper Mule Mug
Deco 89 Moscow Mule
If you’ve had a cocktail in your life, you know what this is for: moscow mules. Moscow, Kentucky — it doesn’t matter where the mule is coming from, this mug has pretty much one purpose other than looking nice.
Julep Cup Glass
Hammered Mint Julep Cup
A creation of Kentucky silversmiths in the 1800s as a sign of prestige, the julep cup serves one main purpose: to help keep mint juleps ice cold during the Kentucky Derby. Made of silver or pewter, these cups aren’t as versatile as others on the list, but they do look awesome, so they get points for that.
Why Do You Need Different Glasses for Drinks?
Perhaps a craft beer connoisseur informed you about consuming beer from a frosted glass, or a Scotch enthusiast droned on about pouring whiskey into a Glencairn glass. Reality check: Glassware is a big deal in the world of liquor. In fact, the size and shape of your glass affect your brew’s temperature, aroma, and taste to bring out its unique flavor.
This doesn’t mean that drinking bad alcohol from well-designed glassware will make it taste better. Chances are, the flavor from your freshly poured liquor will escape before you take a sip. Don’t believe us? Try drinking the same beer from two different glasses and your taste buds will pick up the differences, no matter how subtle they are.
How to Buy Glassware
You might not need all of the different types of glassware, but having a variety will help accommodate any number of palates and choices that guests may make when you have them over. In addition, some of these glasses, like pints, wine glasses, and brandy snifters, can be used for cocktails as well as drinking something straight.
As far as how many, think about your own entertaining. Is it normally you and a partner? Are you inviting your guy friends over? At least two is good, but think about what you need and make a guess from there.
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