Having a well-stocked bar is typically a staple goal of any home-owner.
There’s nothing worse than having friends over or settling in for a pleasant, relaxing evening at home only to discover that you lack a decent bottle of wine, beer, or liquor.
And while having each and every type of alcohol ready isn’t at all necessary, it’s usually a good idea to have the basics covered at all times. You just never know when a crisis needs a finger or two of whiskey, or there’s something to celebrate with a bottle of bubbly, right?
That being said, there’s still one thing that could make the impromptu celebration, bracing sip, fancy dinner, or enjoyable evening in a challenge: the lack of appropriate glassware.
While it’s certainly okay-ish to simply take a swig straight out of the bottle or put your everyday water-glasses to alcoholic use when you’re in your early twenties and live in a dorm or share an apartment with your friends, its an altogether different story when you’re forced to rinse out your favourite coffee mug in order to conjure up enough glasses to toast your friend’s promotion, your significant other’s achievement, or need to boost your sibling’s spirits after a difficult, life-changing situation. (Particularly if you have that “adulting”-thing down pat in every other aspect of your life.)
We would suggest having at least the following types of glasses at the ready at all times:
- a set of wine glasses (red and white) and champagne flutes each
- a decent number of highball glasses (since they work both for cocktails/long-drinks and juice/soft drinks)
- a few lowball/rocks glasses for your medical dose of whiskey (or whatever floats your boat when it comes to liquor)
- at least one shot glass (highly useful for mixing cocktails and measuring out small doses of liquids while cooking/baking)
- a couple of beer glasses (at least for the times you entertain guests and don’t want to drink straight from the bottle)
That’s the basics you should be able to find in any well-prepared household.
But, of course, there’s more. A lot more!
Depending on your preferred choice of drinks, the size of your bar/storage space, and the likelihood of actually using them, you might want to cobble together a more detailed shopping list for your next venture out to the glassware dealer of your choice.
Below you can find a collection of the most important bar-glasses (including beer, wine, and champagne) for inspiration. The choice is all yours!
Table of Contents
The pint is the standard beer glass you will certainly have handled at some point in your life.
This glass with its slightly tapered walls is used primarily for English- and US-style ales and lagers, and typically comes in two sizes: Imperial (20oz/570ml) and US (16oz/470ml).
You can easily spot the difference between those two types by looking at the upper part of the glass: the Imperial pint has a slight ridge as can be seen in our example picture above, while the US pint’s sides are completely straight.
Just as the name suggests, this glass is the perfect fit for the classic Pilsner, but it works just as well for other German-style beers like a Bock, or a Kölsch.
The tall, fluted shape perfectly captures the carbonation and colour of the beer, and at the same time allows for a nice foamy head to form.
This beer glass is often mistaken for a Pilsner glass. The main difference, if you will, is the fact that the Weizen glass is even more curvy than the Pilsner.
The curvaceous body is perfectly designed to support and showcase the heads of weizens and other wheat-y beers.
Particularly perfect for red ales, lagers, porters, stouts, and anything with robust, deep flavours, this German-style mug is a real treat.
Seidels, or mugs, often come with great volumes (between 10 and 14oz are the norm), and are really made for handling these kind of sizes. Their handle and thick walls help maintain the beer at a cool temperature and keep your dink savoury over a long period of time.
A more heavy, ornamental earthenware, ceramic, or metal version of the Seidel, or mug, is called a stein.
Steins usually come with a lid that is operated with your thumb, and are generally considered as ornaments or souvenirs instead of drinking vessels. This, however, entirely depends on your surroundings – at an Oktoberfest celebration, for example, you will fit right in when using a stein!
A beer tulip is a bulbous glass with a bulb-shaped bowl and and a relatively short stem, and is designed to perfectly capture aromas and support large heads of ales.
The shape of the bowl allows for gently swirling the beer around to increase (and release) the beer’s aroma, and the curved lip is not only functional, but also serves to distinguish the tulip glass from pokal glasses.
Chalices and goblet glasses are actually two separate types of glasses, but they are hard to distinguish and actually serve the same purpose, so we took the liberty of chucking them into a single category.
Both types of glasses are wide-mouthed and bowl-like and sit on a thick stem. Both may be etched to stimulate carbonation. And both types are best served to hold hearty types of beer.
In terms of differences, goblets tend to have thicker glass walls, and (slightly) taller stems. But as we have said before, it is hard to tell those two types apart, and in the end, if you’re not a particular beer aficionado, it won’t matter.
And if you’re not particularly picky about your choice of glassware, but want to echo the look, you may substitute chalices for oversized red wine glasses.
The Cosmopolitan is your basic cocktail glass, and is shaped like an inverted cone bowl.
It gets its shape from the simple fact that all traditional cocktails would have appealing aromas, and the large mouth allows for the drinker’s nose to get close to the beverage’s surface with ever sip. This ensures optimal enjoyment of both scent and taste.
Martini glasses are not that much different from your basic Cosmopolitan glass, and indeed they have evolved from them.
The main difference between those two glass types is that the Martini glass has a larger bowl that is fully conical at the bottom.
Martini glasses can be a tad hard to handle without spilling when they are full, but they are well worth the effort. As anyone who has ever seen a James Bond movie can vouch for: they are sexy as hell, no matter who handles them!
Also known as the “Coupette glass”, the Margarita glass is primarily used for (you have guessed it) Margaritas and Daiquiris.
This glass, too, has evolved from the classic cocktail glass, and is easily recognisable by its distinctive double-bowl shape. Said shape makes the glass perfect for serving frozen margaritas, and the wide rim makes it particularly easy to add a salt- or sugar-rim to the drink.
A staple of the New Orleans bar scene, the Hurricane cocktail was first poured into hurricane lamp-shaped glasses in the 1940s, and both the drink and the glass name were here to stay.
The distinct pear-shaped glasses are mainly used for its namesake cocktail as well as Pina Coladas and other frozen drinks.
Originally the champagne flute of our grandparent’s generation, the Coupe(tte) glass today brings a retro feel to a wide variety of cocktails.
Everything from the Side Car, to Daiquiris, Manhattans and Martinez, to the Aviation can be served in this long-stemmed glass with a wide, shallow bowl.
And, oh boy, do they look fabulous!
Whether you call it the “Chimney” (because of its similarity to the thing on top of a house) or the “Zombie” (due to originally being used to served the drink of the same name), this glass is as stylish as it is straightforward.
These glasses are typically among the tallest of all cocktail glasses, and do come in clear and frosted varieties.
The Poco Grande is nearly identical to a Hurricane glass. The main difference is the longer stem that makes the drink sit up a little higher and thus serves to showcase beautiful mixed beverages to their optimum advantage.
The longer stem is also what makes this glass so perfect for cold/frozen drinks: the drinker’s hand does not need to come into contact with the part holding the drink, so an exchange of heat is less likely, thus making the cocktail stay at optimum quality for a longer time.
The Highball glass is the most common glass at any bar.
Highball glasses are the perfect choice for most “tall” mixed drinks and cocktails (and particularly all “highball” drinks, i.e. iced drinks that have a higher percentage of non-alcoholic/mixer ingredients than actual liquor). It also is perfect for drinks that contain carbonated beverages.
While the term Highball glass is often used interchangeably with the Collins glass, it actually is a bit wider but shorter than the latter.
Named after the drink “Tom Collins”, this glass is mainly used for soft drinks, juices, and mixed drinks.
Collins glasses are straight-sided, narrow glasses, and are traditionally made of frosted glass, but they are available as clear glasses as well.
The Collins glass is a bit taller and narrower than the Highball glass, but you’re well off with one or the other for your home bar.
Just as the name suggests, these glasses are used for Whiskey Sours and other simple sour drinks.
Sour glasses are rather little (they hold between 3 and 6 ounces), and have a stem and a wide mouth. Actually, they do look quite a bit like smaller champagne flutes!
Depending on your sources, Sour glasses can be a bit hard to find these days, and you can easily replace them with small champagne flutes instead.
The snifter is specifically designed to optimise your experience when drinking Brandy and/or Cognac.
The snifter’s short stem is basically there to allow you to slot it in between your fingers in order to be able to cradle the glass in your palm and let your body heat warm the beverage.
The wide bowl at first glance may seem ridiculously oversized for the amount of liquid typically put into it (around two ounces per serving), but that’s exactly its purpose. The bowls size allows you to swirl your Brandy or Cognac inside the glass and see its colour, and the shorter mouth traps the aromas and allows you to enjoy them with every sip.
This glass, also know as the balloon, is an essential for every well-stocked bar.
The Wobble is the updated version of the snifter.
This contemporary glass is a sure way to surprise your friends when you have them over for drinks – and they do look extremely cool, if you ask us!
The names “Old-fashioned”, “Lowball”, and “Rocks glass” are used interchangeably for the same kind of glass.
Whether you love boozy cocktails or like to serve liquor on the rocks or with a splash, this is your perfect choice!
This short tumbler has a solid base that holds around 6 to 8 ounces and is the perfect choice for every drink that really packs a punch within a small amount of liquid.
You might have guessed it when reading the name – this type of glass is specifically designed to help capture the aroma of the drink and help your senses to get a full dose of flavours with every sip by heavily involving your nose in the process.
This glass has a wider bottom that narrows at the top. The mouth, then, can flare out a little so that the trapped aromas are allowed to waft out of the glass.
Typically, Nosing glasses are used when drinking straight whiskey, for all the above reasons.
The Tumbler is a great glass that can be used for a wide variety of drinks. This makes it a veritable must-have for your home bar.
The Tumbler is a stemless, oftentimes curved glass that comes with both narrower and wider openings. To ensure maximum enjoyment of whatever drink you serve in it, you should definitely go for a variety with a wide mouth.
Not particularly common these days, Cordial glasses are tiny, stemmed glasses used to serve small amounts of liquor.
They usually hold between two and three ounces of liquid and used to be the glass of choice to sip after-dinner cordials or liquors in style.
The Sherry glass is a small, narrow, stemmed glass that has a wider rim than your average cordial glass.
It holds approximately 2 ounces of liquid and is thus ideal for liqueurs and aperitifs.
It’s always a great idea to have at least one shot glass at hand, even if you’re not the type to actually do shots!
These small, sturdy glasses typically hold between 1 and 3 ounces (in other words between a single shot and a shooter), and are a handy tool when it comes to measuring out small amounts of liquid – be it while mixing a cocktail, or when cooking or baking.
Typically, a shot glass has a rather thick bottom, which is entirely due to their need to not shatter when slammed back down after a shot is downed.
And if you’re unsure about purchasing a shot glass, but see their value as measuring tools, call around in your family – there’s a good chance someone has purchased a shot glass as souvenir on one of their travels and hasn’t looked at it ever since. You might just be thanked for volunteering to take it off their hands!
Grappa glasses are another instance of a glass being specifically designed for a certain drink.
Since the Grappa is a very fragrant drink that is sensitive to temperature changes, the glass has a narrow, small bowl that curves in sharply before flaring out again at the top, which sits on a long stem.
Liqueur glasses are small in size and are therefore ideal for serving and holding sweet liqueur.
These glasses are oftentimes very dainty, and usually have a flared opening that allows the drinker’s nose to come close to the drink’s surface with every sip, thus enhancing the enjoyment of the liqueur.
Shooter glasses are the big siblings of shot glasses and hold 3 ounces.
These glasses, who may flare out slightly at the top, are large enough to hold mixed drinks that are intended to be drunk as quickly as a shot, or -quite straightforward- for those occasions where a single shot is not enough, and it’s time for a double- or triple-shot.
You might not know this, but there’s actually a glass specially designed for drinking Tequila – and this is it!
Essentially, the Caballito is a tall, narrow version of the shot glass.
Red wines are served in larger, bowl-shaped glasses that increase the surface area and allow for swirling the wine easily in order to help aerate it (in other words: to help it breathe; we thought, we’d throw a fancy wine word in for free, to help you impress your fellow drinkers with your terminology 😉 ).
White wines are typically served in smaller, slender, tulip-shaped glasses that help to slow down the rise in temperature, as well as limit aeration due to the limited surface area.
Please note that you ALWAYS hold your wine glass at the stem to prevent your hands from heating the drink up!
Rose wine glasses are typically similar to white wine glasses, and you can absolutely use the latter to serve the former.
If you decide to get specific rose wine glasses, there are basically two types to chose from: those with a short bowl and a flared lip, and those with a short bowl and a short taper.
Basically, the ones with the flared lip should be your preferred choice when you like to enjoy younger wines, while more mature roses will be perfectly suited for glasses with short tapers.
These small glasses are perfect for fortified, high-alcohol wines, and help to concentrate the fruit while at the same time keeping the alcohol vapours at bay.
A Balloon glass is similarly shaped as a Bordeaux glass, but a bit smaller and thinner.
This glass usually holds between 6 and 12 ounces, but be careful to never fill it more than halfway in order to ensure the maximum amount of aroma.
The reason you need a special glass for champagne and shouldn’t simply pour the bubbly into a wine glass is the fact that the taller and skinnier shape of the champagne flute protects the carbonation and ensures that your champagne actually stays bubbly.
Additionally, the bowl with a small mouth, set on top a high stem, also serves to visually highlight the rising bubbles.
Looking incredibly stylish, vintage champagne glasses, or coupets, are often a sought-after type of glassware at weddings and other formal events.
Bear in mind, though, that these glasses are not designed to bring out the optimum of your champagne, and actually couldn’t be any worse for bubbly liquid if they tried.
Their wide open bowl allows way too much air to reach your beverage, and also advances the rate of bubbles evaporating, thus making the vintage glass a non-ideal choice for all occasions where the champagne should be sipped over a longer stretch of time (e.g. during speeches).
However, there is one occasion where vintage champagne glasses are the one and only pick: the champagne pyramid! (Which is probably the coolest thing ever to see at an event, if executed right.)
This glass is typically a large tumbler with straight sides and no frills.
This heat-resistant, footed glass sits on a short stem and comes with a handle, which makes it the perfect choice for all hot (non-)alcoholic beverages.
Whether its an Irish Coffee, a Hot Toddy, or a simple Hot Chocolate, this type of glass makes adding a lovely foam or whipped cream top to your drink of choice easy thanks to its flared opening.
The milkshake glass is the embodiment of the word “retro” – and we mean that with the utmost love!
Milkshake glasses have a distinctive shape: they have a wide mouth, gently curving sides, and end in a large, sturdy foot. This construction is the reason why we can stir the thickest milkshakes with our straws without fearing that the glass will topple over any second.
And before you ask why the -admittedly retro- milkshake should have a spot in your home bar, we have two reasons:
- boozy milkshakes, which are the best possible combination of alcohol and, what we like to think of as, a “comfort drink”, and
- smoothies, which are not necessarily a bar-drink, but so hip that they should have a stylish glass to come in.