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6 essential cocktail glasses for your home bar

Various cocktail glasses toasting


6 essential cocktail glasses for your home bar

It happens often. You've reached the drinking time of day, and as you look through your collection of beautiful cocktail glasses and assorted stemware, you start to second-guess your ability to make one of the most important decisions about cocktails: What type of cocktail glass are you supposed to use?

It's a valid question that demands a good answer, because you deserve a good drink. And because buying the right container for a Moscow Mule is kind of a no-brainer, we're going to skip to the cups that aren't so obvious. Here’s a cheat sheet on pairing your pourings with their proper cocktail containers.


This short, round and stout glass is just large enough to be cupped in your hand, and is also called an “Old Fashioned” glass, making it just a little easier to know what goes inside. Sometimes ornate, other times simply see-through, it’s also routinely the choice for a Sazerac or a neat pour of Scotch. And don’t be fooled by the makeup of a Negroni – it might seem like something you should serve up but its natural habitat is also the rocks glass. Of course you can always use cubes of ice, but if you’ve got an ice ball mold or anything that can freeze your water in a larger shape, this is the place to put it; your drink won’t water down as much while it chills, and the physics involved will trick your eyes into believing you have more drink than you measured.

The reason you drink that dirty ‘tini in the fancy, stemmed vessel that resembles a megaphone (and can turn you into one if you refill yours too many times) has more to do with function than appearance. Not every drink demands ice, and you’re going to want whatever the concoction to remain as cold as possible however long you sip, which is why the stem is long enough to keep your body temperature from affecting small-scale climate change. The “v” shape of the bowl and sloping sides help hold your toothpick and garnish, while the wide-circled rim allows for more alcohol aromatherapy – remember, the O.G. martini is gin-based, so you might as well get a whiff of those botanicals since they’re in there.

It’s totally fine if you presumed that Collins glasses were made for you to drink more. The actual reason for using one is because you’re going to use a lot of ice, soda and/or juice in your tall beverage, plus you’re also a discerning drink aficionado who doesn’t want to just grab any old pint glass. It also helps to know the difference between three main types: the Delmonico, the highball and the Collins. The Delmonico is the shortest, usually holding up to 8 ounces, while the taller Collins holds up to 16 ounces, with the highball falling somewhere in between.

This dessert wine and after-dinner liqueur glass is basically a shot glass with a “footed” base. Since the beverages you pour inside (sherry, fernet or other digestifs) won’t need ice and are served neat, cordial glasses let you stay classy and sip straight without giving yourself the appearance of a spring breaker. Sure, you’re loosening up a bit, but you’re Southern, so you can and should still keep it sophisticated.


Few things feel bossier than swirling a neat brandy, Scotch, Cognac or any other brown spirit you prefer around the inner walls of a proper snifter, whether you’re actually trying to get a sniff of what’s inside or you just like showing off your swirling skills. Whether your snifter is stemmed or not, you’re actually supposed to hold a snifter from the bottom of the bowl, in the palm of your hand. This allows the spirit to warm slightly and release aroma, which is concentrated back into the glass due to the curved inside. Not to mention, holding a snifter in one hand and a cigar in the other (or two in one if you’ve got the skills and hand size) is always a good look.


Short for coupette, this wide-mouthed, saucer-shaped glass has experienced a resurgence since the pre-Probibition-era craft cocktail boom hit the South, making it a challenger to the classic martini glass. The coupe has mythical origins – some say it was inspired by the anatomy of Marie Antoinette – but its true purpose was for Champagne, which makes zero sense because the width is an inferior design to hold in carbonation. However, the large circumference makes it great for a salted rim, so reach for one when you want to classy up your margarita. It’s also a preferred space for a classic daiquiri or any other iceless drink you strain after a good shake or stir.

Got it? Good! Now grab one of the above glasses, fill it up with the drink it was made to hold and enjoy.

Martini glass photo credit: Flickr  /  Personal Creations (license)

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Mike Jordan is Southern Kitchen's former associate editor. He was also the host of our podcast, Sunday Supper. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including The Huntsville Times, American Way, Upscale, Time Out, NewsOne, Fatherly and Thrillist, where he served as the founding Atlanta editor. He lives in East Point, Ga., with his amazing wife and daughter, and loves writing, playing alto saxophone, cooking, craft beer, and cocktails. He is admittedly much better at these things than basketball, so never choose him for your pickup team.