The cocktail hour: Three little words with big cachet, recalling images of uptown girls in little black dresses and tuxedoed men with martinis shaken, not stirred. But just between us, here’s a little secret: The real allure of the cocktail is the glass it’s in. Would a martini be as chic without the sexy v-shaped bowl and slender stem? Or champagne as fab without a flute to fizz in? Of course, with more than 1,000 different glasses for beer alone, things can get complicated—not to mention crowded. No room? No worries. While it’s nice to know your pokal from your pilsner, you don’t have to break the bank to stock a basic home bar. We’ll show you what’s what—and what’s just enough.
- Champagne Flute (essential)
- Goblet (essential)
- White Wine Tulip (essential)
- Stemless Goblet
- Red Wine Balloon
The slender shape preserves bubbles in champagne and other fizzy drinks. Hold by the stem to keep drink cool. Also ideal for parfaits, puddings or cold potable soups such as gazpacho and vichyssoise. From 1930 to 1960, the shallow, broad-bowled champagne coupe or saucer reigned supreme. Not well-suited to today’s more sparkling Champagnes, it’s still used for certain cocktails such as daiquiris.
If there’s such thing as an all-purpose glass, this is it. Deep and wide-mouthed, the versatile goblet is typically heavier and shorter-stemmed than a wine glass (although it can substitute in a pinch). Used mainly for water in formal settings, it also works well for iced tea, soft drinks, beer and nearly any other mealtime drink. Descended from the medieval chalice, goblets can be made from glass, metal or stoneware.
The smaller, slender bowl helps concentrate the flavor of white wine. To amplify the delicate bouquet, pour an ounce less than you would red. Young or sweet whites benefit from a larger-mouthed tulip, to guide flow to the tip and sides of tongue. Mature wines need a straighter glass to channel bolder flavors toward taste buds on back and sides. If you can stock only one style of wine glass, we suggest a large tulip that holds at least 13 fl. oz. For dessert, serve filled with chocolate mousse.
Once thought of only as an easy-care, casual way to enjoy wine, stemless glassware is now seen even in dressed-up settings. In red wine, white wine or flute styles, these can also double as water goblets. In Europe, table wine is often served in a stemless, flat-bottomed juice glass; similarly, stemless goblets are best used for everyday wines. For finer vintages, stemware permits better visibility and temperature control.
The wide, globe-shaped bowl helps to retain red wine’s aromatic compounds and esters. Also appropriate for water. Special stems may be used to serve certain varietals: Claret glass for Bordeaux, Burgundy or Magnum glass for Burgundies, and an all-purpose Paris goblet for both red and white wines, to name just a few. Having a party? Fill with candies, mints or nuts and place strategically about the room.
- Pint Glass
- Belgian Tulip (essential)
A clear drinking vessel made to hold either a British imperial pint (20 imperial fl. oz.) or an American pint (16 US fl. oz.). Used primarily for beer and ale, its shape can be conical or nonic (bulging). With its large capacity and wide mouth, the pint glass is best used for serving beers with low-to-medium alcohol content, simple flavors and smaller heads of foam.
Also known as a wheat beer glass (weizen is German for wheat). Specifically designed to handle a frothy head while locking in the distinctive aromas associated with light, effervescent Bavarian beers. Perfect for summertime barbecues and other warm-weather gatherings. Wheat beers tend to be foamy. To prevent excessive foam, swirl a small amount of water to wet the inside of the glass before pouring.
If you invest in only one type of beer glass, the classic tulip could be your best bet. Made to accommodate a thick, foamy head, its bulbous shape and tapering mouth work well for a wide range of beers. Also great for serving ceviche or shrimp cocktail.
Structured to showcase the color, clarity and effervescence of pilsner beer. Pilsners are also the glass of choice for serving draught beers and beer cocktails. A footed pilsner is called a pokal. Pier 1 tip: Make breakfast parfaits by layering fresh fruits with yogurt and granola. Better than hair of the dog any day.
This heavy dimpled mug is a classic vessel for American, English and German lagers. Easy to grip and built to hold up to a liter in volume, its thick glass walls help keep beer well chilled. Prior to the krug, the traditional German stein was made of stoneware and featured a levered pewter lid designed to keep out flies, which were at one time believed to carry Black Plague.
- Highball/Tumbler (essential)
- Irish Coffee Mug
- Lowball/Old Fashioned
- Martini (essential)
- Shot Glass (essential)
A must-have for any bar. This tall, straight-sided glass is used for cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks such as iced tea and soda. With a volume of 8-12 fl. oz., it’s well suited to beverages that require mixer and/or ice. Can be used as a substitute for the slightly taller, slimmer Collins glass.
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Although today’s supersized margaritas are often served in mugs or goblets, the smaller sombrero-shaped glass—a variant of the classic champagne coupe—is the traditional choice. Margaritas may be served either on the rocks or frozen, and with or without a salted rim.
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A perfect way to enjoy the Celtic confection—providing you choose the proper mug. It should be clear glass, tempered so hot coffee won’t cause it to shatter, with a volume of at least 8 oz. to
allow for coffee, liquor and a thick layer of cream. Season with hot water before pouring coffee in so it doesn’t cool down too fast. Gift idea: Fill a mug with packets of instant coffee, sugar and mini bottles of whiskey or Irish creme. Wrap in cellophane and tie with a Kelly-green bow.
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A squatty tumbler used for both cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks. Sometimes called a rocks glass, it typically holds 6-10 fl. oz. Its slightly larger cousin, the double old-fashioned glass, holds
12-16 fl. oz. Pier 1 tip: In a clear glass, serve individual portions of a fancy layered dessert such as trifle or strawberry shortcake.
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Nothing rivals the classic martini glass for sheer sophistication. Before the birth of its namesake drink, these v-shaped vessels were simply called cocktail glasses. Some say the wide-mouth design was a result of Prohibition, when drinks sometimes needed to be finished quickly in the event of a raid. P.S. Italian tiramisu spooned into a martini glass looks (and tastes) molto bene. Serve chilled.
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Designed to hold or measure liquor, which is then either drunk neat (a shot) or poured into a cocktail. In the U.S., a standard shot glass holds 1-1.5 fl. oz. It is different from a jigger, a bar tool featuring two cones joined at the top—one 1 oz., the other 1.5 oz.