Ever wonder why there are so many different types of cocktail glasses?
It’s a fair thing to wonder…
Because it seems kinda crazy if we’re being honest.
Do all the different types of alcohol glasses actually enhance the drinking experience for different cocktails?
While it seems frivolous on the surface, the answer is yes.
Certain cocktail glasses are specifically designed for the cocktail they carry.
- Direct aromas to or away from your nose
- Control temperature
- Impact how much you sip with each drink
And all of these things impact your drinking experience.
That’s why it’s actually important to know the different types of cocktail glasses and which of the # you need (at minimum) to have all the barware you need.
The 15 Different Types of Cocktail Glasses: Everything You Need to Know
1. Martini Glass
Dating back to the 1925 Paris Exhibition, martini glasses were actually originally used for champagne. But people soon realized that this classic “v” shaped glass isn’t really great with champagne. Its shape actually causes most of the bubbles to evaporate before you take your first sip.
But the Martini glass (also called a Couple glass) is perfect for other cocktails.
The long stem and cone-like shape help control temperature, direct aromas to your nose, and make you sip slowly. And these attributes make these glasses perfect for shaken or stirred drinks without ice.
Shaken or stirred cocktails with minimal mixers and no ice like:
- Martinis (duh)
2. Highball Glass
The Highball glass is one of the most versatile and essential cocktail glasses on this list. Heck, you almost certainly have several in your cabinets right now.
They’re your standard-looking drinking glass you use for soda, juice, water, whatever. They’re perfect for just about any sort of tall mixed drink.
While the Highball glass doesn’t have the aroma directing or temperature controlling superpowers as other glasses on this list, they’re so versatile that they’re a necessity for your bar.
A single spirit and a single mixer like:
- Jack and Coke
- Long Island Iced Tea
- Jamison and Gingerale
3. Collins Glass
The Collins glass is very similar to the Highball, but it’s a tad taller, a bit narrower, and holds 2 more ounces (12 vs 10). The additional volume makes it a better fit for mixed drinks with several ingredients that are served on ice.
- Tom Collins (where it gets its name)
- Sparkling cocktails
4. Rocks Glass
This glass is known by many names–the Old Fashioned glass, Lowball glass, and Rocks glass.
It’s your standard, short and wide glass you see most often used for drinking whiskey–or more specifically, old fashioneds (where it got its nickname).
The glass was designed to hold 6-8 ounces because most whiskey drinks use 2-ounce pours since they’re so high in alcohol content.
Drinks mixed in the glass:
- Old Fashioneds
5. Copper Mug/Cup
This is most known as the glass you drink Moscow Mules in. True copper mugs are actually made with 100% copper to keep your drink as cold as possible. Cheaper mugs simply have coated exterior and don’t do the job quite as well.
Unlike most other glasses on this list, the traditional Moscow Mule Mug has a handle to minimize heat transfer.
There are also copper cups without handles that are commonly used for Mint Juleps.
Drinks that need to stay super chill:
- Moscow Mules
- Mint Juleps
- Gin and Tonic (if you like it cold)
6. Margarita Glass
The wide bowl directs aromas to your nose as you drink–enhancing the flavors–and also lets you enjoy the salt or sugar on the rim. Then, the long stem helps keep your drink colder longer.
7. Nick and Nora Glass
These glasses have an iconic bell shape and a long stem. They’re specifically designed for easy drinking and elegance. The long stem helps control the temperature (have you noticed the trend?) and the general bell shape gives it a high-class look.
The Nick and Nora glass is versatile and is best used for drinks that are sipped slowly–making them increasingly common at bars. It’s somewhere between a Coupe (Martini) glass and a small wine glass.
Most drinks otherwise served in a Martini Glass:
- The Bee’s Knees
- Champagne (much better than the Coupe Glass)
8. Wine Glasses
No bar would be complete without wine glasses. But since there are so many varieties, it can be hard to identify the wine glasses you actually need.
We recommend sticking with the basics:
Red Wine Glass
These have a large bowl and a narrow rim because red wine usually is thicker and bolder than white wine.
The large bowl increases oxidation and directs aromas to the drinker’s nose–helping them access the variety of flavors.
White Wine Glass
White wine glasses usually have a shorter stem and bowl than red wine glasses because white wine has a lighter flavor profile.
The shorter, smaller bowl decreases oxidation which helps bring out the crisp flavors wine lovers expect out of a white.
9. Snifter Glass
Often associated with brandy, the Snifter glass has a short stem and wide bowl that narrows as it approaches the rim.
This shape directs complex aromas to the drinker’s nose and the short stem encourages heat transfer–making it perfect for brandy, whiskey, and bourbon since these drinks are often served neat and at room temperature.
- Other whiskies
10. Shot Glass
It’s pretty obvious what these are used for…
The contents don’t really matter as long as it’s straight liquor. These are best for not caring what something tastes like and nights you don’t want to remember (or you accidentally don’t remember).
11. Glencairn Glass
These glasses were designed with the sole intent of creating the ideal glass for drinking whiskey.
Its design allows for easy handling, and the short stable base and thicker glass make for a good overall tasting glass.
With the Glencairn, the shape of the glass directs the aroma of the bourbon into your nose at the same time as the first sip hits your tongue, making it easier to identify and enjoy the “nose” of the spirit.
12. Champagne Flute
These Shaq-level-tall glasses are designed specifically to be the best champagne glass.
The tall and narrow body helps the champagne maintain its carbonation and also makes for an enjoyable aesthetic since you can see the bubbles rise to the top of the glass faster than you can say “this is my 5th glass of champagne”.
13. Bodega Glass
The Bodega glass is that short, stout glass you see stacked up by the punch bowl at parties. They aren’t necessarily designed for a specific drink, but they are easy to hold and generally cheap.
Since you hold these in your hand (no stem), the heat transfer can quickly impact the drink’s temperature, so make sure whatever you serve in Bodega glasses either tastes good slightly chilled, or is so strong people don’t care.
- Spiked punch at a high school dance
- Whatever drink the frat boys made with the resources they had
14. Hurricane Glass
You’re sitting on the beach sipping a pina colada. What’s it in? A Hurricane glass.
This tall, curvy glass has a short stem and large bowl–making it perfect for relaxation because it holds a lot of liquid.
The best part?
The rim is wide enough to accommodate a piece of pineapple or a completely unnecessary, but still incredibly necessary drink umbrella.
- Pina coladas
15. Irish Coffee Mug
These glasses are perfect for any sort of cocktail that’s served hot (not just Irish coffee). It has thick, heat-resistant walls with a handle–making it perfect for whatever hot concoction you want to make.
- Irish coffee
- Hot toddy
- Spiked hot chocolate
Which Alcohol Glasses Do You Really Need?
Okay, so as I alluded to at the beginning of this article, you may not actually need all 15 types of cocktail glasses.
It depends on your goal.
If you run a bar, then yeah, you probably need ‘em all.
But if you’re building out a home bar, you can get away with 4 types of glasses:
- Martini (Coupe) glasses for cocktails without ice
- Highball glasses for simple mixed drinks
- Old fashioned glasses for whiskey drinks
- Wine glasses
Of, course, you might like Moscow Mules or taking 13 shots after a long day at work, so if that’s you, feel free to add one of those other types of glasses to your shopping list.
But generally, these 4 will go a long way for you.
There Are Too Many Types of Glasses for Cocktails to Count
We left several specialty cocktail glasses from this list because they are so uncommon or infrequently used.
So, if you want to be technical, there are probably 50+ different types of glasses. Not just the 15 on this list.
But unless you drink a specific cocktail 50%+ of the time, you don’t really need any of the specialty glasses unless you’re Scrooge McDuck.
These 15 are essentials that can be used for many things. And really only 4 of them are absolutely required for a home bar.