The Esquire Guide to Types of Cocktail Glasses: Best Cocktail Glasses

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We’re not here to tell you how to live your life, but if you really want to hone your inner mixologist at home, it’s worth investing in some quality glassware. After all, what’s the point of lining your bar cart with our recommended bottles if you’re not going to show them the respect they deserve? To help you out, we’ve picked out the eight types of cocktail glasses that any home bar should have.

Why owning different types of cocktail glasses is important

The reasons for using different types of glasses for cocktails are complicated and convoluted, but it all comes down to improving the overall drinking experience.

Each different glass is uniquely designed to bring out complex aromatics, as well as dampen unwanted heat transfer. When served in the wrong glass, even the best concoctions can lack flavor, temperature and, let’s face it, style.

Should you freeze your cocktail glasses??

In short: yes. There are very few cocktails – except those served hot – that wouldn’t benefit from a pre-chilled glass. Chilled glasses are crucial for cocktails served ‘up’ (i.e. shaken or swirled with ice and then strained) as they ensure the drink stays at the optimum temperature until the last sip.

You should allow 30 minutes to chill your glass in the freezer. However, if you’re short on time and can’t resist the siren call of a pisco sour, you can quickly chill the glasses by filling them with ice (crushed ice works best, but in cubes) and filling them with water. Allow the glass to cool while you prepare your drink, then discard it just before pouring. So.

How many types of cocktail glasses should you own?

We’ve covered a range of cocktail glass types here, but depending on your current kitchen plan, you might want to start by choosing a few of the more challenging options. A collection of highball, rocks and martini glasses is a good place to start.

Read on for Squire recommendations for every budget, handpicked for functionality, durability and shelving style.

types of cocktail glasses

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1 | Martini glass

Designed for small mixed drinks served “upward”, the martini glass is a tapered stemmed glass with a classic tapered shape. The delicate stem ensures that your hand doesn’t warm the drink, so it should never be served with ice, but it’s worth taking the time to chill your glass just before pouring. Superficiality dictates that it is to be drunk quickly… but no straw please.

What to serve in a martini glass: Martini; Spin; Gibson; Manhattan.

Luxury : Calypso blue and green martini glasses, £2, £290, artemest.com

Essential: Luigi Bormioli Optica Fluted Martini Glasses, £4.52, johnlewis.com

types of cocktail glasses

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2 | cut glass

Sometimes called a champagne coupe, this shallow stemmed glass can serve more than sparkling wine. Treat it like a martini glass and use it to serve short, chilled cocktails without ice.

What to serve in a coupe: Sidecar; Clover club; Boulevardier.

Luxury : Waterford Lismore Essence Crystal Glass Champagne Coupes, 2, £150, selfridges.com

Essential: Soho Home Pembroke Scalloped Champagne Coupes, £4, £80, selfridges.com

types of cocktail glasses

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3 | Rocks glass

A shorter, chunkier version of a highball, the single rocks glass is used for both straight sipping (think whiskey, bourbon, rum, and vodka), as well as strong cocktails served in small portions .

Our advice? Invest in a quality ice cream mold. Whatever you’re drinking, you’ll want to serve it over a big ice cube to open up the alcohol and lessen the residual burn, without risking diluting the flavor.

If you’re going to town with your glassware, there’s also double rock glass (sometimes called double old-fashioned), which, confusingly enough, is often just 25% larger than a single. We use ours for margaritas and sazeracs because the tempered glass is safe to jam into the glass itself.

What to serve in a single rocks glass: old-fashioned; Negroni ; Whiskey Sour.

Luxury : Doulton Highclere Royal Crystal Cut Glass Tumblers, £2.59, johnlewis.com

Essential: Riedel Drinks Specific Crystal Neat Glassware, £2.29, selfridges.com

types of cocktail glasses

4 | Collins glass

Long and thin with no taper, the Collins glass is one of the most versatile cocktail glasses. Designed to hold ice and take plenty of liquid, a typical Collins glass will hold 300-410ml. The length is important here because it allows for more carbonated or mixer water, making it a much lighter drink.

What to serve in a collins glass: Mojito; Tom Collins; Palm; Gin Fizz.

Luxury : Fferone Flight Collins glasses, 2, £180, artemest.com

Essential: Jonathan Adler Cabana Glass, £1.30, amara.com

types of cocktail glasses

5 | whiskey glass

Shorter than a Collins glass, but taller than a tumbler, highball is a workplace no home bar should be without. These glasses are long, but not so big that there will be excessive dilution of the base alcohol. The blender is meant to enhance the spirit, not overwhelm it.

What to serve in a highball glass: gin and tonic; Dark ‘n’ Stormy; Tequila Sunrise; Long Island Iced Tea.

Luxury : Tom Dixon Tow Glasses, £2.90, selfridges.com

Essential: LSA International Verso Whiskey Glasses, £2.50, johnlewis.com

types of cocktail glasses

6 | shot glass

OK, I call it cocktail glasses may be generous, but the humble shot glass needs no introduction. Invest in the small ones if you feel reasonable…in the big ones if you’re not.

What to serve in a shot glass: Anything you dare.

Luxury : Richard Brendon Diamond shot glasses, £2, £90, harveynichols.com

Essential: LSA International Vodka Shot Glass, £4.65, johnlewis.com

types of cocktail glasses

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7 | Mule Mug

Long associated with the Moscow mule, copper mugs are excellent for isolating the heady mix of vodka, ginger beer and fresh lime juice. Cocktail purists claim that copper oxidizes on contact with pure alcohol, which boosts the aroma and enhances the taste of vodka. The jury is out on this, but we know we’re all for one (or two) on a hot day.

Of course, if you crave a mule and find yourself short of the classic copper vessel, you can use a traditional tall ball instead.

What to serve in a mule mug: Moscow Mule.

Luxury : Cu Artigiana Copper Mugs, £4.95, artemest.com

Essential: Tom Dixon Plum Moscow Mule Mugs, £2, £80, selfridges.com

types of cocktail glasses

8 | Hurricane Glass

The tallest and most brash of cocktail glasses, a typical hurricane glass can hold up to 600ml. The stem is too small to hold, so the drink should be served with plenty of ice or it will be hot before it gets to the end – and nobody wants that.

What to serve in a Hurricane glass: Pina Colada; Singapore Fronde.

Luxury : Waterford Lismore Crystal Hurricane Glasses New£2,120, selfridges.com

Essential: LSA International Hurricane Glasses, £2.48, amara.com

Sarah C. Figueiredo