The Ultimate Guide to Cocktail Glasses

When it comes to glassware, what do you use for what cocktail? What basics should you have on hand? Why do some glasses have the cocktail in the name, and others don't? We're here to help.

The Ultimate Guide to Cocktail Glasses

Why are cocktail glasses confusing AF?

Have you ever browsed the glassware section of Crate and Barrel? There are so.many.choices and it can be overwhelming! Where do you even begin, and can there really be that many types of cocktails?

We're here to help.

  1. Types of Glasses
  2. What basics should you have on hand?
  3. Do they have to match?
  4. Our household favourites
  5. How many glasses should I buy?

Types of Glasses

While it's argued that some glasses are designed to bring out more flavour in the beverage, the popularity of others can be chalked up to good marketing!

When it comes to beer, some glasses are designed to bring out more flavour in the beverage or to optimize for foam based on the pour, like a Guinness. Have you ever noticed that it never tastes the same from a can?

Wine is rumoured to be similar, with Riedel building their glassware empire off of the principal that the glass makes all the difference.

Lately, the NEAT glass is rumoured to do the same thing for scotch or whiskey.

While we may never know for sure, one thing is certain: glassware is a hosting staple!

Here's your guide to glassware and what drinks they're typically used for:

  1. Absinthe Glass
  2. Boston/Pint Glass
  3. Collins
  4. Coupe/Coupette/Champagne Saucer
  5. Flute
  6. Goblet Wine Glass
  7. Highball/Hi-ball
  8. Hurricane Glass
  9. Margarita Glass
  10. Martini Glass
  11. Mule Mug
  12. Old-fashioned and Double Old-fashioned
  13. Piña Colada Glass/Poco Grande
  14. Rocks Glass
  15. Sherry Glass
  16. Shot Glass
  17. Snifter / Brandy Balloon
  18. Sour Glass
  19. Tiki Mug
  20. Toddy Glass

Absinthe Glass

The name says it all - this glass is built specifically for Absinthe! Usually tall and footed with a wide brim, it also usually has a bubble or dosage marker to help you get the perfect pour every time.

📸 The Coupe Absinthe Glass from The Cocktail Emporium

Boston/Pint Glass

A tall glass with a thick rim and a little bit of weight to it, this is one of most recognizable glasses for, you guessed it, beer!

📸 OMFATTANDE glasses from IKEA

Collins

Well this one is easy - these are named after our family (just kidding)! It is named after the Collins cocktail, though, and has become the standard name for any tall, slim cocktail glass. This is a household staple for cocktails in general.

📸 Collins 12 ox. Glass from Crate and Barrel Canada

Coupe/Coupette/Champagne Saucer

Originally intended for straight-up drinks like Champagne and Martinis, coupes are used to elevate all kinds of cocktails these days, so let your imagination do the work!

📸 Camille Long Stem Champagne Coupe Glass from Crate and Barrel Canada

Flute

These delicate babies are made for champagne! Slim and trim, the shape of these glasses actually help to hold the natural fizz of champagne.

📸 Gather Local - Edge Champagne Glasses from Crate and Barrel Canada

Goblet Wine Glass

You'll recognize these babies as your standard wine glass! Some say that there are different wine glasses for various varietals of wine, but you can definitely get away with having 2 types at home for your standard red and white wines. Red wine glasses tend to be a little taller and a little bigger, overall, and white wine glasses tend to be a little shorter and skinnier.

📸 Muse Wine Glasses from CB2

Highball/Hi-ball

Characterized as being tall and narrow with a little bit of flare, highball glasses are mainly used for fizzy cocktails that require lots of ice. Not to be confused with a Collins glass, these glasses are a little shorter and are wider across the top and are often used to serve its namesake, the highball (hi-ball) cocktail.

📸 Vance Cut-Glass Highball Glass from Crate and Barrel Canada

Hurricane Glass

This is a big boi that can hold up to 20 oz - just slightly less than 2 cans of soda. Similar in shape to the piña colada glass, this glass gets its name from the hurricane lamp that it resembles. It usually contains a hurricane cocktail!

📸 Libbey Cool Cocktails Island Hurricane Glasses from Amazon.ca

Margarita Glass

This one speaks for itself! Shaped like an upside-down sombrero, this is the perfect glass for your salt-rimmed margarita.

📸 Glory Margarita Glass from Crate and Barrel Canada

Martini Glass

Known for its angular v-shape, this updated take on the traditional coupe glass is a relic of the 1920s that has had a lot of staying power. Not just reserved for martinis as the name would imply, you can use this glass for any cocktail!

Check out more on the origin of the most recognizable cocktail glass here.

📸 Gather Local - Viv Martini Glass from Crate and Barrel Canada

Mule Mug

These mugs are named after the vodka-based Moscow Mule cocktail that's topped with ginger beer.

📸 Double Wall Moscow Mule Mugs from Linen Chest

Old-fashioned and Double Old-fashioned

A single old-fashioned has a heavy base and a flat, wide brim. A double is slightly taller but with all the same characteristics. It's usually meant to serve scotch or whiskey.

📸 Gather Local - Glasses from Homesense Canada

Piña Colada Glass/Poco Grande

Often confused with a hurricane glass due to the shape, this glass is actually typically smaller than your standard hurricane. When shopping for these, even if they're named "hurricane" like in the photo below, you can tell that it's a piña colada based on the oz size. A piña colada will be about 14 oz and a hurricane will be 20 oz. Featuring a big bowl, it's the perfect glass to hold the crushed-ice goodness that is the piña colada!

📸 16 oz Cuba Hurricane Glass from the Cocktail Emporium

Rocks Glass

Similar to the old-fashioned glass, this is what your standard bar-rail cocktails usually come in! With a thick-wall of glass, this short glass is sturdy and is ideal for drinks that need a little bit of muddling.

📸 Hatch Rocks Glass from Crate and Barrel Canada

Sherry Glass

Used for port or sherry, these glasses are a smaller version of your standard wine goblet. Or, baby wine glasses as I call them. They're smaller because sherry is typically a dessert wine, or aperitif.

📸 Oregon Port Wine Glass from Crate and Barrel Canada

Shot Glass

As my mom would say, this glass is for shooters! I say these glasses are for hangovers. These come in all shapes and sizes and can also be really helpful for measuring how much alcohol you're adding to your cocktails when mixing drinks.

📸 Bitty Bite Tall Glass from Crate and Barrel Canada

Snifter / Brandy Balloon

A short-stemmed glass with a big bowl, this glass is typically used for brandy as the name implies. It's a small, short glass because it usually holds a digestif, which is late evening drink usually served after a meal.

📸 Oregon Brandy Snifter from Crate and Barrel Canada

Sour Glass

Small and narrow at the stem, this glass tapers out at the brim and is used for serving straight up sours (say that 5x fast).

📸 Riedel Sour Glass from The Bay

Tiki Mug

These mugs come in a million colours, shapes and styles that make you dream of Hawaii! A tall, tubular vessel with a motif theme, these mugs can make your backyard feel like a tropical vacation.

📸 Pinki Tiki Mug from the Cocktail Emporium

Toddy Glass

Also called a liqueur cocktail glass, enjoy everything from a hot toddy to an Irish coffee in this baby. In fact, this glass is often called an Irish Coffee glass because that is the drink that popularized it. Made of tempered glass, this vessel can take a little heat and usually has a handle so you don't burn your fingers.

📸 Irish Coffee Glass from Cocktail Emporium

What basics should you have on hand?

With so many glasses out there to choose from, the best thing to do when purchasing glassware is to think about what types of drinks you enjoy regularly.

Our advice? Unless you happen to have beer on-tap in your basement bar or are a connoisseur of wine and spirits, tradition is out and pretty is in! Buy whatever glasses feel the most "you" and your guests will be guaranteed to love them too.

Here is your free pass to enjoy your drinks - unconventionally.

Treat yourself to an upscale glass of water in a crystal wine glass.
Sip your fancy, fruity cocktail from a mason jar.
Enjoy your piña colada in a carved-out pineapple.

The key word: enjoy! And tag us in your drink posts on Instagram @gather.local

Do they have to match?

I believe in having matching sets of glassware, but those sets don't have to match each other! Mixing and matching different styles of sets adds to the personality of your home and should represent your tastes. On the other hand, mixing and matching different individual glasses reminds me of yard sales. I said what I said.

The more eclectic the collection, the more conversations you'll have with your guests about them, and the more they'll get to know you!

Our household favourites

Notice how diverse these sets are?

Mason Jars

When I first set out to buy our mason jar glasses, it never occurred to me that they were just regular mason jars people used as glassware. I thought it was a specialty item and I couldn't find them anywhere - I guess the joke is on me! I use these for water and all kinds of cocktails in place of a Collins or highball glass.

I found these Bernardin Regular Mason Jars at Canadian Tire and they were a steal of a deal!

Everyday Wine Glasses

Was anyone else obsessed with Gossip Girl? I was determined that when I grew up, these would be the casual-fancy wine glasses that I'd sip everything from wine to mimosas from. Dreams do come true!

📸 IMDB

I found this gorgeous set of Edge Wine Glasses at Crate and Barrel Canada.

Upscale Wine Glasses

A beautiful wedding gift from my husband's father and stepmom, these wine glasses have some weight to them! Made from lead crystal, we've never felt fancier.

You can find your own Mikasa Orion Wine Glasses at The Bay.

Scotch Glasses

We were gifted a set of beautiful crystal scotch glasses, and I couldn't tell you where from. What I can tell you is that I see them at Homesense Canada all the time!

I've also been dying to try the NEAT glasses - partially because I love a good pun, and partially because they're rumoured to be the best for maximizing your tasting experience.

Martini or Coupe Glasses

While present culture may say that the martini glass is outdated and impractical, I still love them! To me, they were a right-of-passage that marked my transition from mixing tequila and Coke (yes, I did that) to mixing cocktails from an actual recipe. The best part is that you're not restricted to drinking just martinis from this glass! More on that here.

You can find this set of Viv Martini Glasses at Crate and Barrel Canada.

📸 Gather Local

If you prefer the rounder shape of the coupe, either look for a vintage set, or try the Eve Coupe from CB2.

How many glasses should I buy?

My answer? It depends on how many people you usually have over, how big your family occasions are, and realistically, how much storage space you have.

Most hosting experts suggest having 8-12 place settings on hand, so you'll want the same number of glasses plus a couple of extras to account for breakage. Sh*t happens - why not be prepared!