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When you hear the words “shot glass,” what usually comes to mind is the proverbial souvenir-esque drinking vessel meant for tossing back a short pour of something clear, brown, or borderline fluorescent. But while shot glasses might be cast aside as a mascot of college days, it’s worth noting that there’s a whole world of small drinking vessels that are thoughtfully designed and serve a deeper purpose. Of course, if you want to take a shot from them, you can, but there are many ways to enjoy a spirit from a smaller vessel.
Here’s our list of the best shot glasses.
Best Overall: Sempli Monti Shot Glasses Set
If you thought that “elegant” and “shot glass” didn’t belong in the same sentence, this set by Sempli might just prove you wrong. Hand-blown and made from lead-free crystal, the Monti shot glasses are inspired by the snow-capped mountaintops of the Alps, the product of designer Daniele Semeraro’s Italian-Swedish background, and are some of the most versatile shot-style glasses out there.
Rim the super-thin mouth of the glass with salt to serve a great tequila or Mezcal alongside a slice of your preferred citrus (mini margaritas are another fun option), order a few sets and some sparkling wine for a tiny toast amongst friends, or sit with a nicely aged whiskey for a while. And feel free to swirl while you’re at it—thanks to the angular punt at the bottom of these 3-ounce glasses, you can incorporate some movement in order to draw aroma from whatever you’re sipping. Note that the Sempli Monti glasses are hand wash only.
Best for Tequila: Riedel Ouverture Tequila Glass
Contrary to popular belief, stems do have a place in small-format glassware—in fact, cordial glasses can be traced back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Tulip glasses are a modern version of the traditional Spanish sherry copita and have long been a go-to for industry professionals for a multitude of reasons.
Bertha González Nieves, CEO and Founder of Casa Dragones Tequila, elaborates: “Tulip glasses are typical to whiskey and enhance the nosing experience often associated with an aged spirit,” she says, noting that these glasses do the same for other spirit categories, like tequila. “Choosing the right glass not only enhances the overall appearance of the drink but can actually amplify the overall experience of taste. In professional tastings, we look for body and color, aroma, taste, and finish. Glassware should always be considered as a complement to your spirit or cocktail because it can certainly intensify your experience and make it even more exciting,” she adds.
The 6-ounce crystal Riedel Ouverture glass, says González Nieves, was designed for tequila tastings, meaning you can taste like the pros at home.
Best Set: Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal Copitas
If you’ve ever tasted Mezcal in Mexico, chances are you’ve come across its go-to vessel, whether made from terracotta (a copita) or its predecessor, a hollowed-out gourd (also known as a jícara). Del Maguey, a cult-favorite brand beloved by bartenders and Mezcal enthusiasts everywhere, has played a significant role in bringing the former to the mainstream today.
Along with the Benítez family, who have been making and selling pottery in Oaxaca for generations, Del Maguey founder Ron Cooper has put forth this 1-inch high clay interpretation of the jícara that offers the perfect size for a taste of Mezcal, while the material breathes and the wide mouth encourages the spirit to open up on the nose and palate. And, according to Cooper, the clay copitas fit perfectly in your pocket (because who knows when someone might want to pour you a taste?).
Best for Whisky: Norlan Whisky Glass
In Amsterdam, glassware brand Norlan joined forces with Master Distiller Jim McEwan to create a modern spirits glass, a lightweight innovation characterized by its double-walled hand-blown glass design and smart features from top to bottom. The Norlan glass features a concave rim, made to sit snugly against your bottom lip as you sip, each detail between the rim and bottom of the glass scientifically optimized to enhance the tasting experience in every way possible.
“We took [whisky drinkers’] preferences to heart and through an extensive process of analyzing fluid dynamics and flavor transfer, iterative design, and expert feedback, created an entirely new whisky glass,” says Brian Fichtner, Norlan’s brand director. “Through specially developed protrusion forms inside the glass—adapted through studying bio-mimicry—the fluid, when swirled around the glass, forms a standing wave shape, which increases the surface to air ratio and rate of oxidation. The effect here is that considerably more ethanol evaporates. This resulting increase in volatility allows the whisky to become significantly more expressive. This feature is an invention of the Norlan glass—no other whisky glass will do this for you,” he shares. Science nerds, eat your hearts out.
Best for Sake: Sugahara Glassworks Duo Sake Glass
Sake fans, behold this simple yet striking glass designed to enhance even your most aromatic bottle. Drinking sake is a ritual in Japanese culture and beyond, and naturally, that calls for the proper vessel.
World-renowned chef and potter Masa Takayama shares his preferences for drinking this widely-beloved rice wine: “Japanese love to drink in general and for me, the vessel is a very important part of the experience. I hate drinking something from a glass that is too warm or too heavy,” he says. “I like to take a shot from a very thin and slightly taller sake glass, something that can keep the spirit cold—glassware should be delicate and showcase what you are drinking, and temperature is so important!”
These handmade sake glasses by Sugahara feature a sturdy base and a thin rim, getting the job done (and are beautiful, to boot). You can also try drinking sake from the Sempli Monti glasses mentioned above, as long as you follow Chef Masa’s lead and keep them nice and cold.
Best for Friends: The Knot Custom Printed Clear Shot Glasses
There are BFF necklaces, and then there are custom glasses designed to immortalize a friendship or relationship at a surprisingly budget-friendly price point. Since shopping at Claire’s isn’t usually the first move for those of drinking age, the latter is perhaps a more suitable option. Whether you’re looking for the perfect token of appreciation for your wedding party or just want to show your best friend or significant other some love, The Knot Shop’s personalized clear shot glass and its multitude of fonts and glass shapes—not to mention the easy-to-use interface—makes for a special and affordable gift for your other half (or halves).
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Céline Bossart has spent the majority of her career researching and reporting on all things wine and spirits, and she agrees with Chef Masa in that the vessel is a very important part of the drinking experience. She also very much appreciates a chilled glass.