Bars have an array of glassware, and each style is for specific drinks. Whether you want a casual or fancy cocktail, there’s a glass to suit your need. A few styles are essential for a well-stocked bar, while others are nice to have around.
Choosing the right type of bar glass to pair with any drink doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Understanding the fundamentals of bar glassware and how their unique designs enhance your drinking experience is simpler than you might expect
Let’s look at the most common types of bar glasses.
Table of Contents
Types of Bar Glasses
Collins glass resembles the highball glass and is perfect for a casual cocktail or your favorite liquor over ice. This type of glassware is tall and narrow and makes a great alternative to serving cocktails in a highball glass.
These glasses are cylindrical and hold up to 14 ounces. Reach for a Collins glass if you are serving any cocktail over ice. These include:
- Tom Collins
This is an old-fashioned glass used for serving spirits such as brandy or whiskey. It has a wide and sturdy base, making it ideal for mixing non-liquid ingredients like mint with the liquid ingredients of the drink.
Lowball glasses are a staple in bar glassware. Most cocktails and drinks served in these shot glasses range between 6 to 10 ounces. If you’re looking for unique, personalized glassware to add to your bar, try lowball glasses.
Rocks glasses are short and sturdy with a broad base. Use these glasses to serve spirits over ice and sweet drinks. Unlike the glasses above, the rocks glass can hold drinks made with mostly spirits. It is named after the classic cocktail, the Old Fashioned. The shape of the glass allows for mixing ingredients, stirring, and adding a large cube of ice. You can serve these classic cocktails with a rocks glass:
- Old Fashioned
This glass is suitable for holding the Zombie cocktail, rum, and liqueur. This glass is the tallest and most narrow of all other cocktail glasses. It’s perfect for highlighting colorful drinks. Also, its large capacity can hold cocktails made with several mixers. You can use zombie glasses to serve eye-catching cocktails, including:
- Tequila Sunrise
- Fuzzy Navel
The classic margarita glass features a large, round bowl with a rim that provides plenty of room for garnishes. The wide bowl lets the drinker enjoy the aromatics of the drink with each sip while also getting a taste of the sugar or salt-coated rim.
Added Benefit: Some chefs use margarita glasses to serve finger foods and hors d’oeuvres. These include shrimp cocktails, fruit assortments, and a variety of vegetable dips.
Punch cups are smaller than other cocktail glasses, making them ideal for serving smaller portions of stronger drinks. This type of bar glass is popular with spiked beverages such as egg nog and fruity punches.
Drinks enjoyed from punch cups are first mixed in a bowl, then poured into the individual cups.
Julep cups can quickly insulate cold beverages. These cups use silver or pewter and feature a distinct style. Also, the unique craftsmanship makes them popular as souvenirs.
The grappa glass has a long stem and hourglass shape. This style maximizes the grappa’s flavor profile and allows all of its lush olfactory notes to waft your way as you drink.
Pinot Noir wine glasses are sleek and gorgeous. These glasses have the widest bowl of any other wine glasses. This ensures maximum wine aeration and helps improve its aroma and flavor. The bowl is wide enough for you to swirl the wine. And a crystal-clear glass lets you observe the wine during this action.
These glasses have shorter stems than other red or white wine glasses. The easiest way to differentiate them from other types of wine glasses is to look at the rim. It is turned away from the glass, directing the wine’s flavors and aroma to your nose and mouth.
Bordeaux Wine Glass
This tall glass is ideal for red wines like a Cabernet or an Alicante Bouschet. Its bowl is wide and has a tapered rim. The unique bowl shape helps draw the wine to the back of the mouth with each sip. This minimizes the bitter taste of red wine. Also, the large bowl size also allows the aroma of red wines to develop fully.
Zinfandel Wine Glass
This glass has a smaller bowl than the Bordeaux glasses. It helps bring out the wine’s rich flavors and aroma. A thin rim directs the wine to the center of the tongue, allowing you to taste the complex balance of acidity and fruity flavors.
The sour glass is a smaller version of a white wine glass. It’s a perfect choice for a whiskey sour and other flavorful cocktails. This glass can hold up to 6 ounces and is a great way to enjoy small drinks.
A crisp and cold Chardonnay is best enjoyed in a u-shaped bowl. This glass has a slightly larger opening that helps direct the wine to the sides and tip of your tongue.
This type of bar glass is ideal for serving margaritas. The double bowl is a distinctive shape that works well for frozen margaritas. Plus, the wide rim makes it easy to add a sugar or salt rim.
Margarita glasses come in different sizes, ranging anywhere from 6 to 20 ounces.
This tall and thin glass has a tapered rim to keep Champagne’s bubbles in the glass longer. Flutes can hold between 7 and 11 ounces.
Champagne flutes are great for showcasing a drink’s garnish. It looks superb when you add a long lemon twist and single berry garnish. Also, the fizzy fountain of the Champagne cocktail is spectacular in a flute.
The Champagne tulip is a stylish and elegant glass. It has a longer stem and bowl with a rim that flares out. This design won’t trap bubbles and is a nice option for mixing Champagne and sparkling wines.
The Champagne saucer has a flatter bowl and is also called a coupe glass. It has a more traditional glass design suitable for serving sparkling wines. It can hold around 6 to 8 ounces.
Saucers are great for serving straight Champagne to guests. They also add a vintage touch to drinks that you would serve in a cocktail glass and are a fantastic choice when you want to float a slice of fruit on top of your drink.
Pint glasses are tall, tapered glasses with straight sides. They can hold up to 16 ounces, which is enough for a full beer bottle and its foamy head. You can chill pint glasses in the freezer and instantly bring warm beer down to a cool temperature suitable for drinking. This glass can also double as a mixing glass for cocktails and is a great choice for bartenders.
Pilsner glasses have a wide rim and can hold between 10 and 14 ounces. The fluted shape is perfect for lagers and pilsners.
Frosted Beer Mugs
Frosted Mugs are great because you can hold your beer without warming it with your hands. Also, the thick base protects them against damage on the bar top. These mugs are commonly used in bars and are perfect for the average lager.
If you enjoy ales, there are two glass styles worth considering. Both styles show the beer’s head and color, while the round shape traps its complex aroma. These include:
Nonic Pint Glass
The nonic pint glass style is similar in shape to the standard pint but has a bulb near the top of the glass.
The stemmed tulip glass is traditional style and has a wide bowl that tapers toward the rim.
Irish Coffee Glass
This bar glass is a footed glass with a handle. It’s suitable for hot drinks like Irish coffee and is a great substitute for the average mug. It has thick, heat-resistant glass and holds up to 10 ounces.
The distinct pear-shaped style of this glass resembles vintage hurricane lamps. It can hold between 10 and 12 ounces and is perfect for hurricane cocktails, piña coladas, and other frozen drinks.
Poco Grande glass is similar to hurricane glass. This attractive glass has a long stem and can showcase beautiful beverages. It’s perfect for cold or blended drinks and can hold up to 12 ounces. Overall, it’s a nice addition to any home bar.
This glass is suitable for brandy. Its classic shape is easily recognizable and enhances the drinking experience. A quality brandy snifter is essential for any bar. The right shape and mouth size make this snifter a great choice. You can also use the snifter is also used for a few simple drinks, most notably the aromatic B&B.
Tumblers are versatile and nice for any bar. This is a flat-bottomed glass, making it perfect for most uses. Also, the curve of the glass ensures that your beverage smells and tastes great.
These tiny glasses feature a traditional design. They’re ideal for sipping cordials straight and are not very popular today. They are dainty, holding just up to 3 ounces, and fun to collect if you enjoy vintage bar glassware.
The style of cordial glasses may vary. Some glasses are tulip-shaped, while others have a bowl that resembles a sour glass.
Tall Specialty Cocktail Glass
Some cocktail recipes call for specialty barware that includes a few tall glasses. Each is suitable for a specific style of drink. While they are not as popular as the other glasses, they are useful if you are fond of cocktails.
This tall and thin bar glass is perfect for many drinks, including Long Island Ice Teas. It has a broad base, making it difficult to knock over at parties. Also, these glasses are slim and comfortable to hold. They will hold any beverage that you want to enjoy in style.
This glass looks retro and chic in the best way possible. If you’ve ever been to a soda fountain, you might remember drinking a milkshake out of these glasses. They have a unique shape, wide opening, and curved edges that end in a large base for added stability. This shape ensures that the drink does not spill and allows the drinker to stir it with a straw.
This long-stemmed glass has a wide and shallow bowl that adds a retro quality to your cocktail. Coupe glasses are perfect for serving drinks such as the Side Car, Martinez, and Aviation. These glasses elevate the presentation of your drinks, and many people think that they are worth the extra fuss and effort.
This glass is perfect if you want an updated version of a brandy snifter or glass. It’s modern and looks great at any home bar. Also, their wide mouth can help intensify the flavor of the drinks. They are a fun way to serve drinks and are can spark conversation when you have guests over.
Tip: It can be tricky to keep the glass from knocking over if you aren’t careful. Look for wobble glasses with a sturdier base.
This small glass is ideal for holding and serving sweet liqueur. The glass features a flared opening that allows drinkers to bring their noses close to the beverage’s surface, intensifying the aroma. Some liqueur glasses are dainty and can be easily broken, so make sure that you buy quality liqueur glasses.
This glass can help capture the flavor and aroma of the drink. They are typically used when drinking straight whiskey. They are heavy and sturdy, making them less fragile than other bar glasses.
Pousse glasses are great for serving colorful, layered drinks. They are small and can hold less than 4 ounces. In addition to serving layered drinks, these glasses work well for serving liqueur-based dessert drinks. Sometimes your hands can warm the drink. Fortunately, Pousse Café glasses feature a longer stem to ensure that your drink doesn’t get warm when you hold it. Lastly, the sleek design and shape of the Pousse Café glass enhance the décor of any bar.
This specialty piece of barware is one of the few that aren’t made of glass. Aside from having a unique look, there are many functional reasons for using a copper mug. The copper material triggers an oxidation process that enhances a drink’s aroma and flavor. The best drinks to serve in a copper mug include a Moscow mule, mint julep, and a greyhound.
This glass is taller than a shot glass and may flare out at the top. While shot glasses can hold a single serving of alcohol, shooter glasses have enough room to hold a mixture. This makes them ideal for serving mixed drinks. Additionally, shooter glasses are perfect for drinkers who want to take a double or triple shot.
Nick & Nora Glass
Nick & Nora glasses are contemporary versions of the coupe glass and are more bell-shaped than a standard coupe.
Glencairn Whiskey Glass
The Glencairn distillery in Scotland developed Glencairn glasses. These glasses help you savor the taste and complexity of the whiskey. They are great to use for single malt whiskeys, Irish whiskeys, and single barrel bourbons.
This double-walled, inverted beer glass does a great job insulating your drink while making everyone laugh due to its unique shape and appearance. It makes a wonderful gift for anyone who loves to drink beer and enjoys humor.
It is shaped like an upside-down beer bottle inside of a conical pint glass. While drinking out of this bar glass, you will enjoy all of the benefits of a regular pint glass without worrying about warming up your beer.
This one is an extremely tall beer glass for drinking two-and-a-half pints of beer. The actual volume depends on the diameter of the glass.
You can find yard glasses at any bar, but they’re more common at celebrations like Oktoberfest. These glasses come with a supportive wooden structure because of their height and shape. Each yard glass is handmade for the finest drinking experience, and it’s this careful attention that makes it superb as a gift for anyone who enjoys drinking their favorite beverage!
This one is a modern, boot-shaped beer glass. They are popular at beer festivals and rowdy parties in the United States. These glasses feature machine-pressed or mouth-blown glass. The traditional beer boot is two liters, but you can find them in many sizes, including half-liter and one-liter beer boots.
Steins come in a variety of materials, including glass, wood, stoneware, silver, crystal, porcelain, and pewter. They have lids operated by a hinge and are available in different sizes. Steins are available in most bars nowadays, but they are popular as souvenirs and not for drinking.
Tankard glasses feature thick and durable material. They resemble beer steins, but they don’t have lids on them. They do have a handle and are cylindrical.
Tankard glasses can be made of glass, ceramic, pewter, wood, and even leather. They make a great gift for someone who loves drinking beer.
This is an iconic beer glass traditionally used in England. Dimpled mugs are now popular in America, where people love how sturdy they are.
The broad diameter of the dimpled mug means you can get a good aroma from the beer. It has a strong handle, making it easier to hold so that you’re less likely to spill your drink. Plus, dimpled mugs are easier to clean because of their textured surface. They are shorter than a tumbler or a tankard, and many people love their vintage and classic look.
Oktoberfest mugs feature detailed designs and can hold about 36-ounces of your favorite beer. Like an oversized dimpled mug, this mug has a sturdy handle and dimpled pattern.
The thick walls help insulate the beer and prevent the mug from serious damage. These glasses are hard to stack and store but make a great conversation starter when you have people over for a party.
How To Choose The Best Bar Glass
Not every bar needs to be fully stocked with every type of bar glass. There are many factors to consider when choosing bar glasses, including:
Bar glasses can be very expensive. If you’re new to mixology, consider buying few basic types of barware and expand your collection over time.
Most bar glasses are made of glass. For safety reasons, nearly all barware has pure glass or lead-free, high-quality crystal. That’s because lead is a serious health hazard and has the potential to leach into drinks.
Instead, look for crystalline, acrylic, copper, and polycarbonate barware. These options are free of harmful lead.
Acrylic glasses are sturdy and long-lasting. They don’t break easily and can improve your drinking experience. They come in a variety of colors and are not nearly as easy to break like glass.
Copper glasses are gorgeous, making them ideal for home bars. Impress your guests with the copper barware and enjoy flavorful drinks at your home. Copper mugs are also beneficial to your health. Some people prefer copper mugs for their health benefits, while others enjoy the way they look.
There are some amazing copper glasses out there to suit your preference. Whether you want all of your barware to be copper or just want a few pieces, these mugs are both beautiful and functional.
Beware: Using a pure copper mug too often may irritate the lips or cause nausea, making copper-plated stainless steel a better choice.
Polycarbonate glasses do not shatter when they fall. These glasses use strong, clear plastic to protect against damage. These glasses are long-lasting and dishwasher-safe. This also means you won’t have to worry about discoloration with age.
Crystal glasses are heavy and look great when you hold them. However, crystal glasses may break more easily than other glasses.
If you love the look of crystal glasses but not their price tag, you may want to consider glass as your material of choice for your bar glasses. It’s a great option if you’re looking for sleek and stylish glasses that will last for years.
Pewter or Stainless Steel
Depending on what you’re drinking, you may enjoy the slight tang when you drink from pewter or stainless steel glasses. Even if you’re not drinking something acidic, you may enjoy the appearance of these glasses. They’re a little different than what anyone else will have.
Bar glasses have different thicknesses to meet different durability demands. Lowball whiskey glasses use thicker glass, which gives them a substantial feel while strengthening construction. Tulip glasses and margarita glasses usually have a heavier feel, also making them more suitable for bar use.
Most bar glasses have a thicker glass at the bottom to prevent tipping and thinner glass at the top to facilitate sipping. For situations that demand safety and durability, some bar glasses aren’t glass at all. Many bar glasses are available in tough, shatter-resistant plastic and other materials.
Weight and Stability
A high-quality bar glass should be well-balanced with a base that can properly hold the bowl without tipping. This includes highball glasses, which have a thick glass and a broad circular base.
The weight of glass bar glasses can vary significantly, generally from 5 ounces to 5 pounds. Stainless steel and plastic glasses are much lighter, and you can expect them to weigh between 1 ounce and 2 pounds.
Ease of Use
Bar glasses are designed to make them easy to use and enhance the drink’s look and flavor. There are two main choices:
Bar glasses with stems add elegance to the glass. Also, the stems provide a means of holding the glasses without warming the beverages with your hand. Stemware is more delicate than rocks or highball glass, making it more likely to shatter and more difficult to carry around at a party.
Stemless bar glasses are easier to hold and can withstand rough use. They’re also dishwasher safe. Highball glasses and rocks glasses typically have thick bases that prevent tipping and can better withstand everyday use.
Some bar glasses offer unique design features that add to their overall appeal. This includes patterns made via crystal cutting, a process that is popular with rocks glasses. Cut glass with hard edges can give a bar glass a more vintage feel, while rounded edges create a more contemporary look.
Some bar glasses feature different glass treatments that create a stylish look. Metal barware offers a very different look than regular glasses. Metal glasses feature divots, which give them a classic look.
A comprehensive collection of classic bar glasses is essential for serving a variety of drinks. But before you stock your shelves with specialty bar glassware, ask yourself what types of cocktails you’re likely to make and drink. Think about the drinks you serve when entertaining guests and relaxing at home.
Old-fashioned glasses are suitable for aged dark liquors, such as bourbon, scotch, and whiskey. Choose Collins glasses for any drink served with a lot of ice, including mojitos and Long Island iced teas. A well-stocked bar glasses collection should also include margarita and martini, and glasses.
Make sure to buy other bar tools like strainers, cutting boards, and cocktail shakers so you can make all types of drinks.
Bar glasses can be very expensive. If you’re new to cocktail making, consider starting with a few basic types of bar glasses and then expanding your collection over time.
Drinking is often a communal activity involving a partner and sometimes guests. As such, most bar glasses are sold in sets. Specialty glasses, such as copper mugs, martini glasses, and rocks glasses, come in sets of two or four, which is more than enough for an after-work cocktail with a partner or a home bar. Tulip glasses and highball glasses come in sets of four or six because they are more popular in larger social gatherings.
Keep these numbers in mind when populating the barware in a home bar or bar cabinet that has limited storage space. When deciding which glasses will populate your cabinet, remember that some glasses are more versatile than others. While copper mugs and margarita glasses may have limited use, highball glasses and rocks glasses are ideal for a wide variety of drinks.