Cocktail Glasses Explained

When at the bars, it is not uncommon to see multiple kinds of glasses sitting behind the bar. It seems to me that most of those glasses aren’t used very often, but then again, I have a habit of ordering the same drink every time. If you are confused or curious like me, here is an explanation of what each glass is used for.
The first and most commonly used cocktail glasses are the highball and lowball. The lowball is generally used for “single” shot mixed drinks or for a few ounces of whiskey or scotch. The highball is typically for Bloody Mary’s and mixed drinks such as vodka cranberry. At most bars, this glass is used when a “double” is asked for.

The martini is known as the “classic cocktail glass” with a slim stem and a wide, cone-shaped bowl. The shape of the glass is meant to prevent the liquors from separating. Most widely used for martinis, this glass is also used for gimlets, Manhattans and other mixed drinks.

The shot glass is the smallest of the cocktail glasses. Generally the shot glass is used as measuring tool when making mixed drinks. However, when used as a glass, the contents are meant to be consumed in one swallow. The standard shot glass can hold 1.5 ounces but double and triple shot glasses are available which hold 3 and 4.5 ounces, respectively.

There are many kinds of wine glasses but the most common are the red and white wine glasses. Red wine glasses have a wider bowl meant to increase oxidation (when wine is exposed to air, it gives off a distinct odor and changes color slightly). White wine glasses are thinner and smaller. All wine glasses are meant to be held by then stem as not to change the temperature of the wine.

A glass most commonly used during times of celebration, the champagne flute is very thin and narrow to prevent the carbonated wine from going flat. The long shape allows the bubbles to rise slowly. Along with champagne, champagne cocktails such as bellinis and mimosas are served in the champagne flute.

The final common cocktail glass is the brandy snifter. This glass, unlike the wine glasses, is meant to be held by the bowl in order to warm the liquor, usually cognac or brandy. The shape of the glass is meant to contain the smell of the liquor. Although this glass is meant to be used with specific alcohols, I have seen other mixed drinks in this glass as well.

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  • I've seen the beer glass/ shot glass before. It's a good concept but not ideal for Irish car bombs! Seeing as how I am in Boulder, I think I will be taking a trip to check out the Change Beer Tower!

  • I'm about tapped out here - my next (final) offering for unique glasses is this one, not sure what we'd call it, maybe just a 'specialty', but I liked it as my final example of how diverse glasses for the bar can be - 

    The other night I was with a friend at the bar and they were service from a 'tower' that I thought was pretty neat - only place in Denver that uses this device I found so far.

    Six bottles of beer, ice packed into an inner cooler sleeve and cold beer all night.  The Chang Beer Tower!

  • Images in the mirror are closer than they appear.  Please exercise caution.

  • Wow! That's amazing. I lived in Germany for a while. I'm surprised I didn't recognize it!

  • Kathryn - keeping you waiting until the pin drops!

    It's called a 'kolsch' glass - Wikipedia talks about as "...this glass is known as a Stange (pole), but is sometimes also derisively called a Reagenzglas (test tube), or Fingerhut (thimble) because they are a lot smaller than the beer glasses used in most of the rest of Germany." []

    Seems a characteristic of the Kolsch beer is that it deteriorates quickly so a smaller glass is called for. 

  • Steven- I am still really interested in knowing what that glass is! I've searched around and can't find it!

  • I'm so glad you guys are having fun with this post! It was such fun to write! I have no idea what that glass is for!

  • Here's the next one... hint: it's for beer, but why is it uniquely .2 of a liter?

  • Done!

  • You got it Michele! Next time we see each other, a cocktail on me!
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