Cocktail Glass Buying Guide

Choose the right cocktail glass

Enhance the Drinking Experience with the Right Glass

Perfecting your bartending skills requires more than just following a recipe and mixing the ingredients by shaking and stirring. To craft the perfect cocktail, you need finesse, creativity, and the proper drinkware. The experienced mixologist knows the importance of serving cocktails in the right glass to enhance aromatics and flavor, minimize heat transfer, and ensure carefully crafted libations are given the best presentation. This buying guide will help you make an informed decision and choose glassware to best suit your needs.

Common Types of Cocktail Glasses and Their Uses

Designed for serving mixed drinks, cocktail glasses are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Versatile and functional, cocktail glasses come in distinct types made for specific beverages and mixed drinks. Here is a rundown of the most common types of glassware.

Cocktail Glasses

Beer glass

Available in all shapes and sizes, beer glasses may be the ideal vessel for serving your favorite brew, but they also make great serving glasses for a variety of beverages including blended drinks, mixed drinks, ice-cream floats, tonics, and spirit and soda mixes. Beer glasses also come in designed made for specific types of beer such as lagers, ales, pilsners, and stouts and shaped to enhance the particular flavors of each type of beer.

Champagne glass

Designed for champagne and sparkling wines, as well as Bellini or mimosa cocktails, champagne glasses come in two distinct shapes: the flute and the coupe. Tall and narrow, the champagne flute not only helps maintain the drink's carbonation, it enhances the visual aesthetic of the wine as the bubbles travel further in their ascent to the top of the glass. Champagne coupe glasses have wide, shallow bowls that allow faster aeration and quick aroma development. However, they are ineffective at maintaining the flow of bubbles so the aroma is lost as quickly as it develops. Modern coupe glasses are more often used to craft cocktails rather then serve bubbly.

Collins glass

Similar to a highball glass but taller and more tapered, a Collins glass is the drinkware of choice for sodas, fizzes, and mixed drinks such as the Mai Tai, Long Island iced tea, Tom Collins, and vodka Collins. This glass holds eight to twelve ounces of liquid.

Copper mug

Also known as a mule mug, this is the traditional cup used to serve a Moscow mule cocktail, a drink made with vodka and ginger beer. Made of metal instead of glass, these handled vessels have a rounded barrel shape and hold eight to twelve ounces. The mule mug is typically are made of copper with a brass handle and smooth or hammered surface, though some modern varieties are also made of stainless steel or nickel-plate.

Cordial glass

Sweet liquors require smaller portions and a cordial glass allows you to deliver just the right amount. Also called sherry glasses, cordial glasses come in a variety of shapes and may or may not have a stem. They typically hold between one or two ounces and are more rounded than a shot glass.

Highball glass

A staple for any bar, the highball glass is tall, cylindrical, and sturdy. Holding between eight and twelve ounces, it is a versatile glass for a range of cocktails and beverages. It's ideal for carbonated and iced beverages such as the highball, gin and tonic, whiskey and soda, or rum and coke.

Hurricane glass

If you prefer fruity, tropical drinks such as Singapore slings, pina coladas, and Blue Hawaiians, the hurricane glass is for you. This cocktail glass has an hourglass shape with a squat stem and a twenty-ounce capacity and is for mixed drinks that come in larger servings. Don't forget to add the paper umbrella.

Cocktail Glasses

Irish coffee mug

Designed for hot cocktails, specifically coffee blended with liquors and topped with whipped cream, Irish coffee mugs make attractive vessels for serving hot toddies, hot buttered rum, and mulled wine. These tall, handled mugs are usually made of clear glass with a pedestal base, and typically hold about eight ounces.

Julep cup

You don't have to be a Kentuckian to enjoy the refreshing taste of a mint julep. This traditional Southern cocktail is typically served in this iconic vessel that is a sought-after souvenir of the Kentucky Derby. Made of metal such as silver or pewter, the julep cup has a tapered shape with a wide base and are designed to insulate cold beverages that used crushed or shaved ice.

Lowball glass

Also known as an old-fashioned glass, a lowball glass is the shorter version of the highball glass. A versatile glass to have in your barware assortment, this glass is most often used for serving spirits neat or on the rocks. Lowballs have a wide and sturdy base, making them ideal for muddling non-liquid ingredients such as herbs and mint with the liquid ingredients of the drink. The come in single sizes that hold six to ten ounces and double sizes that hold twelve to sixteen ounces.

Margarita glass

The broad rim of this glass allows it to be garnished with salt or sugar used in margaritas or daiquiris. The tapered bowl and stem makes it easy to hold the glass without the fingers becoming chilled. Margarita glasses hold nine ounces of liquid and can also be used to serve appetizers such as cocktail shrimp.

Martini glass

Shaken, stirred, with or without ice, martinis, cosmopolitans, and other straight-up cocktails beg for the sophisticated style of the martini glass. These glasses features inverted cone bowls mounted on a long, slender stems that make them easy to hold between your fingers. These glasses hold six to twelve ounces, and the bowl shape allows ample room for garnishes.

Punch glass

Punch glasses or punch cups are smaller in size than cocktail glasses and are used to serve smaller portions of stronger drinks or spiked drinks such as egg nog or fruity punches. The ingredients for punch are usually mixed in a large bowl then poured into the individual cups and are popular at holiday gatherings and buffets. Punch glasses can be made of glass, ceramic, or silver and may or may not have a handle. Most are sold in a set with the punch bowl.

Rocks glass

Designed for liquor served "on the rocks" or over ice, a rocks or old-fashioned glass is short, thick, and sturdy. These glasses can also serve straight pours of spirits without ice. It holds eight ounces and is ideal for serving whiskey, scotch, bourbon, rye, or simple cocktails.

Shot glass

Small and tapered, shot glasses hold 1.5 ounces of liquor. Their shape allows for easy pour to multiple glasses at a time, and their thick, sturdy bases are designed to withstand quick and vigorous use and reuse. You'll find shot glasses in a variety of styles and colors, along with novelty designs sold in gift shops and specialty stores.


Also called brandy snifter or balloon glasses, these specialty glasses have a short stem and bulbous bowl and are ideal for drinking brandy neat. Generally, a snifter will hold six to eight ounces of liquor. The rounded, wide bowl with a narrow mouth is designed to capture the aroma of brandy, cognac, and Armagnac. Its shape also allows a smooth pour because you can tip the glass to its side without spilling the contents.

Whiskey glass

Similar to lowball glasses, whiskey glasses are short, wide, and sturdy and an excellent way to enjoy spirits neat. Use them for whiskey, scotch, bourbon, rye, and other hard liquors. These glasses have a bulbous body shape that allows the aromas to collect and be directed through the narrow rim to enhance the experience of drinking and nosing whiskey.

Wine glass

Wine glasses come in a wide range of styles and types both with and without stems. Besides used for serving wine, this versatile glassware can also be used for cocktails. If you only have a few types of barware, you can substitute a large wine glass for other glassware to hold frozen blended drinks.

Red wine glass

Because of its thicker consistency and bolder flavor, red wine is served in a glass that has a large, round bowl to help increase the rate of oxidation for a smoother taste and aroma. Red wine glasses are also a great match for sangria and certain cocktails made with Merlot, Pinot Noir, or Cabernet Sauvignon.

White wine glass

White wines have a light flavor and aroma compared to their red counterparts. The best stemware to serve them in is smaller and shorter than the glasses used for red wines. White wine glasses have less surface area, resulting in less oxidation and enhanced nuances of the crisper flavors. Vintages such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Riesling are best served in these wine glasses along with refreshing cocktails such as spritzers.

Whatever your preferred style aesthetic, you'll be sure to find a selection of cocktail glasses that suit your taste and budget at Riverbend Home. Choose barware designed for your favorite libations or the mixed drinks that you like to serve your guests. Start with the more versatile pieces that can multi-task, then add other specific types as your mixology expertise increases and your needs expand. For more information about serveware, cocktails recipes, and stocking your bar cart, read our other informative articles: Refreshingly Simple Summer Drink Serveware Ideas, Champagne Brunch Cocktails, and How to Stock Your Bar Cart.