You have the hardware. You bought the booze. You picked up the mixers. Your home bar is almost complete. Now you just need glassware. When considering glassware, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or obsess over having the proper glass for every occasion. My advice is to start small. This is a home bar, after all. No one’s going to write a nasty Yelp review if you don’t serve the Macallan in a Glencairn. Over time you can build a collection (glass sets make great gifts), but don’t feel like you need to be fully stocked right out of the gate. Still, it’s a good idea to have a few of the following glasses in your cupboard.
Tumblers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Also known as rocks or old fashioned glasses, a good set of these will get a lot of use. They’re perfect for serving spirits neat or cocktails like Sazeracs and old fashioneds. I prefer thick-bottomed tumblers that have a little heft to them — they don’t spill and they feel good in your hand. I also like them larger than the classic style so they can double as a highball for gin and tonics and the like.
Coupes have a classic look that makes your at-home cocktails look as dapper as anything you’ll find at a New York speakeasy. (Fun fact: According to legend, the design was modeled on the breast of Marie Antoinette.) They’re also super versatile. Not only are coupes an acceptable alternative to flutes for champagne, they also work for most classic “up” drinks like Sidecars, Aviations, Manhattans, and even Martinis.
While the coupes work just fine, it’s hard to argue with the iconic look of a martini in a tall cocktail glass. Just try to resist the urge to buy those ridiculous fishbowl-sized ones; you know it won’t end well.
Again, coupes are kosher, but if you’re a big mimosa drinker, you might want some deeper flutes for brunch-time entertaining.
This is your classic mixed drink glass. If your tumblers are big enough, you probably don’t need these guys. Still, their tall, skinny design makes a great presentation for everything from vodka tonics to an Americano.
Unless you’re a big-time oenophile, don’t over think wine glass etiquette. Invest in a set of at least six wine goblets, and pour away. You can also find a set of stemless wine glasses that work for both red and white.
Ditch those branded pint glasses you’ve been stealing since college, and pick up a respectable set of pilsners. With all the great beer out there, it’s a shame to waste it in generic glassware.
A decent sized pitcher is good to have when you’re making batches of cocktails. Be sure to get something sturdy, but not too heavy, since it will be moving around a lot.
As much as you might resist, there will be a night when shots are in order. So be prepared. But since we’re adults now, you should have something classier than those random glasses you brought home from Cancun during spring break six years ago. Get a cheap set of 4 or 6, and you’re good to go.
It’s a total splurge, but it really is the best way to drink a Moscow Mule. But don’t stop there; that cold metal is great for any mixed drink on a hot summer day.
Jim Sabataso is a writer, part-time bartender, and full-time cocktail enthusiast living in Vermont. Follow him on Twitter @JimSabataso.