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There’s no need to put your above-par cocktail in a sub-par glass, unless the occasion calls for it (looking at you, red Solo cup). Here's the thing: What you’re drinking will heavily dictate what glass it belongs in. Looking for a bubbly, effervescent highball? A Collins or highball glass will do the job. Drinking a Vesper or Manhattan? You'll need a coupe or martini glass for that. For the vino fans, the following will help guide sparkling spritzes to your lips. Doing shots? Well, we have our favorites for that, too.
From delicate crystal to durable plastic, here are the best cocktail glasses.
Best Whiskey Glass: Riedel Tumbler Collection Spey Whisky, Set of 2
Riedel has had over 300 years to perfect the craftsmanship of its crystal, and its Spey Whisky Tumblers combine affordability, quality, and style into one excellent whiskey glass. The name is a nod to Scotland’s River Spey, an area that is renowned for producing exceptional whiskies in the Speyside region. In homage to the river, the glass features a chic design of diamond- and wedge-cut glass in the style of Art Nouveau.
Even when you’re not sipping from them, this set of two glasses will act as a showpiece on your bar cart or in your den, kitchen, or dining room. They're weighted at the bottom, guaranteeing a sturdy, measured sip every time.
Capacity: 10 ounces | Material: Glass | Best for: Sipping whiskey, Scotch, or bourbon
“We’re big fans of an etched rocks glass with a heavy base. The heavy base is important because it keeps the drink colder longer while insulating the whiskey from the warmth of your hand. Etched glass fits very well with our restaurant’s design and we feel it elevates the style of the glassware.” — Jake Metz, Food and Beverage Manager at the Elm & Good at the Kimpton Pittman Hotel in Dallas
Best Shot Glass: Sempli Monti Shot Glasses Set
Hand wash only
Normally the terms "elegant" and "shot glass" don't go together, but this will make you rethink that. This set of two is handblown from lead-free crystal by designer Daniele Semeraro. There’s a super-thin rim for sipping spirits, though you can also rim the glass with salt for doing shots of tequila or mezcal. Try making mini margaritas for a group of friends in this glass or even baby Negronis.
Note the nod to the towering, snow-capped mountains of the Alps: Semeraro has an Italian-Swedish background, and these 3-ounce glasses were inspired by his time in the mountains. Thanks to the angular punt at the bottom, you can incorporate some movement in order to draw aroma from whatever you’re sipping—perfect for brandy or aged whisky.
Capacity: 2 ounces | Material: Glass | Best for: Shots
Best Highball: LSA Borough Highball Glasses, Set of 4
Great for highballs
Slightly rounded bottom isn’t the most stable
The highball is a simple cocktail, calling for just spirits and soda. This glass is equally understated with crisp, simple lines, a slightly curved bottom, and a generous capacity. The 14.2-ounce glass can hold a whiskey soda, rum and Coke, or Dale DeGroff’s agave-forward añejo highball.
Made with lead-free crystalline, the glass is classy and surprisingly durable (not to mention dishwasher safe). The brilliance and clarity lets your cocktail shine. These glasses are designed in London, made in Slovakia, and come in a set of four.
Capacity: 14 ounces | Material: Glass | Best for: Gin and tonics, rum and Cokes
“We use Kold-Draft ice cubes, which are nearly an inch on each side. It’s really cool to see them stacked on top of each other in the highball glass,” says Metz.
Best Plastic: Cocktail Kingdom Yarai Acrylic Tumbler Set
While Cocktail Kingdom’s stackable double rocks glass has the look and feel of a standard rocks glass, it’s made with 100 percent acrylic. That means it's safe from breaks or cracks and a great option for bringing to pool decks or outdoor home bars.
These stackable, 10-ounce glasses (which come in a pack of 24) pull design cues from the cut crystal patterns of Japanese Yarai mixing glasses and are wide enough to hold a large ice ball or cube. You can pop them in the dishwasher after use, but hand washing will increase the lifespan. If you want the feel of real glass with the durability of plastic, opt for this set.
Capacity: 10 ounces | Material: Plastic | Best for: Old-fashioneds, sours
“When it comes to glassware there are many options, but my personal favorite is the rocks glass,” says Danny Kwon, general manager of SouthGate in Philadelphia. “I personally use them for wine, beer, and spirits when available. Fitting comfortably in your hand, no other glass provides a sturdy vessel that also happens to be fashionable. It's perfect for a neat pour of your favorite whiskey or your preferred recipe for an old-fashioned.”
Best Stemless Wine Glass: Riedel O Wine Tumbler Cabernet/Merlot, Set of Two
Your hand will warm up the wine
In certain situations, say, by a pool or around klutzy hands, a stemless wine glass is an excellent idea. This one is relatively universal—not too round or narrow. Riedel achieves this one-size-fits-all shape with its cabernet/merlot-style wine glass. Wine aside, this is a wonderful glass for Spanish-style spritzes and other effervescent cocktails, such as a French 75, aperitif, sangria, or sherry and tonic.
Measuring 4.75 inches tall, this oval-shaped glass can hold a little more than 21 ounces. It's the ideal environment for any wine from delicate sparkling rosé to full-bodied red wine, while not being too oversized for smaller hands.
Though this glass is machine-made, it has the weight and clarity of handblown crystal. It's sturdier than the brand's stemmed versions, too, making it great for everyday use. Plus, it's dishwasher safe.
Capacity: 21 ounce | Material: Machine blown glass | Best for: Wine, sangria, spritzes
Best Champagne Glasses: Zalto Denk'Art Champagne Glass
Gold standard of glassware
Highlights the flavors of bubbles
Champagne goes far beyond toasts: It’s a historic, incredibly dignified wine that deserves a proper glass. This Zalto glass is the gold standard, ideal for showcasing the nuanced flavors of young and old bottles. It allows the wine to express its personality and exhibit minerality, bubbles, and flavor profiles.
This glass is pricey, but keep in mind sommeliers consider Zalto the top tier of wine glasses, designed for peak performance. As soon as you pick up the glass, you can feel the quality in the weight. It's light as air, and the lips are whisper-thin. It's crafted to reflect the angles of the earth and let the bubbles directly hit your palate. Each glass holds 7.4 ounces of your favorite sparkling wine.
Capacity: 13 ounces | Material: Crystal | Best for: French 75s, Champagne
“To upkeep the glassware, I wash them by hand and carefully dry them with a glass towel, then stock them in the freezer or on a back shelf,” says Shigefumi Kabashima, Owner and Bar Director at NR.
Best Margarita Glass: Libbey Blue Ribbon Margarita Glass
Looks cooler than a regular margarita glass
Not great for margaritas on the rocks
This festive margarita glass channels the tropical drink’s vacation energy with shimmering blue ribbons and a generous capacity. The glass has a rounded bowl at the top to let the glass rest easily in your hand and a long stem to hold extra cocktail. The total capacity is just over 10 ounces per glass, and this set comes with six.
The large rim is perfect for adding salt or sugar. You could even try adding a dash of Tajin if you're feeling a little spicy. Each glass is carefully made by artisans, so each blue streak will be slightly different. In terms of cleanup, they're dishwasher safe.
Capacity: 10.25 ounces | Material: Glass | Best for: Margaritas, spicy margaritas
Best Coupe Glass: Nude Coupe Glass
Retro art deco lines
Not a standard design
These towering art deco glasses are incredibly impressive with minimalistic line etching and a unique design. Made from high-quality, lead-free crystal, it nods to the circus with a thick, fluted stem topped by a generous bowl. While it’s design-forward, the glass holds a cocktail without sloshing or spilling. Use it for bubbles or any drink shaken and served up.
“Although a classic martini glass is a staple, we love the elegance and design of coupe glasses. They are reminiscent of post-Prohibition era cocktails, don’t chip as easily on the rim, and are easier to lift from the bar top to your lips without spilling.” — Jake Metz, Food and Beverage Manager at the Elm & Good at the Kimpton Pittman Hotel in Dallas
Best Martini Glass: Riedel Nick and Nora Cocktail Glasses
Great for stirred and shaken cocktails
On the smaller side
This is a far cry from the angular martini glasses you may be used to, but the shape actually nods to the classic 1934 flick, "The Thin Man," in which crime-fighting couple Nick and Nora Charles solve capers while downing a generous amount of martinis.
Today’s Nick and Nora glasses boast a signature curved silhouette and slim form. Bartenders love them because liquid is less likely to slosh around while sipping and carrying thanks to the angular shape. These chic glasses showcase the flavors of a martini and any other spirit-forward drink, like a tuxedo or Manhattan.
Riedel’s take is made in collaboration with spirits expert Zane Harris, who spent years researching how to make the perfect cocktail glasses for every single style of drink. Harris considers everything, down to the way the liquid hits your palette. This glass is machine-made to make it a cost-effective way to serve a crowd, but note the vintage lean; There’s delicate etchings and a gold rim that give a nostalgic flair.
Capacity: 4 ounces | Material: Glass | Best for: Martinis
What to Look for in Cocktail Glasses
How big are the drinks you’re making? Ensure the glass will hold your favorite cocktails, plus a few ounces to account for splashing to avoid spillage.
Cocktail glasses come in a range of materials, from delicate, handblown crystal to unbreakable plastic. Weigh how important quality versus durability is to you, and then pick your material accordingly.
Some cocktail glasses only have one or two uses, so ensure the glass you chose is right for the cocktails you like to drink. Only drink cocktails served up? Opt for a martini or coupe. Love a Scotch and whiskey cocktail? Look to a versatile rocks glass.
How many whiskey stones do you need per whiskey glass?
Two small whiskey stones will help chill your whiskey down quickly. Alternatively, try large cubes of ice that melt slower than standard ice.
How many ounces are in a shot glass?
A standard shot glass holds 2 ounces.
What is the purpose of a highball glass?
A highball glass is specifically designed to highlight carbonation in an effervescent cocktail.
Can you recycle plastic drinking glasses?
You can recycle some plastic drinking glasses. Just be sure to check the label. You can reuse plastic wine glasses as many times as you'd like.
How do you hold a wine glass?
Hold your wine by the stem, not the bowl. Holding it by the bowl will warm your wine.
How do you chill a martini glass?
There are two ways to chill a martini glass. First, you could simply store it empty in your fridge. Alternatively, while you’re building your martini in a shaker or mixing tin, fill your martini glass with ice to chill it down. Then, discard the ice when you're ready to pour your drink.
How do you salt a margarita glass?
Take a wedge of lime or lemon, make a small slit in the middle, and run it over the rim of the glass. Next, fill a small plate with seasoned salt. Turn the glass upside down and lower it into the salt. Then, build your drink as usual.
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Kate Dingwall is a freelance writer whose work focuses on food, drinks, and travel. She is based in Toronto and holds a Wine & Spirits Education Trust Level III qualification.