Glassware Guide for Cocktail & Spirit Enthusiasts

By Brie Shelley


Brie Shelley

March 4, 2016

Posted in Restaurant Management, Industry & Culture

Even if you perfectly pick, measure, and mix your cocktail ingredients, or perfectly pour a spirit if you’re not using the correct glassware, your customer is missing out on a quality drinking experience. When it comes to cocktails and spirits, there are a variety of glasses to choose from. Some pairings, like the iconic martini glass, might be more obvious but others might not be so evident. Here’s a full glassware guide for cocktails to lead you through your cocktail pairings and to bring your bar manager skills to the next level.

Start Your Free Trial With Bevspot Today!

The Cocktail Glass

Although people might argue about the extent a glass has on cocktail or spirit taste, there’s no denying that beautiful glassware tends to be perceived as being higher quality. Many glasses, like the martini glass, are classic and have been used with certain cocktails for decades. Others, like the more recent NEAT glass, are designed to accentuate the aromas of spirits.

Cocktail and spirit glasses come in many different shapes and sizes. For a basic diagram, you can look at a typical glass as having four parts: Brim, Body, Stem, & Foot.

The Shelf

In order to promote a well-rounded drinking experience, you should try to stock your bar with a number of these glasses. Specific glassware will show your patrons that you’re serious about the art of alcohol. Also, because many customers probably don’t have individual glass pairings at home, they’ll remember that special experience they had drinking a nice Irish Coffee out of an authentic Irish Coffee glass at your bar.


This class is also called the Old Fashioned glass, the Rocks glass, or the Tumbler. Unlike a mixing glass, this short glass is designed so you can build the cocktail inside the glass it’s being served in. The Lowball glass has a thick base to allow ingredients to be muddled in the glass before the spirit is added. Its rim wide brim lets the drinker appreciate the drink’s aroma and the shape allows the drink to warm slowly, discretely changing the flavor profile. Avoid using this glass for vodka drinks because vodka is best cold.

Typically, this glass is used for smaller, higher-proof pours like hard spirit-based cocktails that have a limited amount of mix or straight spirits with ice (on the rocks). Originally, this glass held two ounces but now there are usually two sizes for a broader cocktail application. Now a standard Low Ball glass holds about 6-10 ounces and a double holds 12-16.

  • Old Fashioned
  • White Russian
  • Mojito
  • Negroni
  • Whiskey on the Rocks


A Highball glass, also called the Collins glass or the Delmonico glass, is taller than an Old Fashioned glass. Each name is used to describe a variation of the basic shape: the Highball glass is shorter and wider, the Collins glass is straight and narrow, and the Delmonico is the shortest and somewhat flared. Traditionally, each glass variation is used for a different type of cocktail: the gin fizz going in a Highball, a Tom Collins in a Collins glass, and a Rickey going in a Delmonico glass. Although some mixologists abide by these rules, the important thing to note is tall and narrow shaped glasses are better for keeping a drink cold and carbonated because of the limited surface area.

The Highball glass is best used for serving highball cocktails, a family of mixed drinks that are made with an alcoholic base spirit and a larger portion of non-alcoholic mixer such as a Rum & Coke or a Gin & Tonic.

  • Rum & Coke
  • Gin & Tonic
  • Dark & Stormy
  • Screwdriver
  • Bloody Mary


This type of glass is for customers who want to take a shot (have a drink in one sip). Usually this drink is simply a single liquor or spirit or for a small extra strength cocktail. Shot glasses come in a variety of shapes and sizes like basic, short, tall, and fluted. You can stock your bar with any variation of these.

  • Tequila
  • Whiskey
  • Fireball

If you’re serving shooters (strong, small, mixed cocktail), you can use a shooter glass, which is similar to a shot glass but usually about ½ an ounce or more than 1 ounce bigger.

  • Snakebite
  • Irish Car Bomb
  • Water Moccasin
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Girlscout Cookie


The Martini glass, also called the Cocktail glass, is an elegant, iconic V-shaped glass with a stem. The V-shape creates a wide brim, allowing for the release of aromas and it helps to hold the structure of the drink so the contents don’t separate over time. Because this glass is for drinks that are shaken or stirred without ice, the glass has a thin stem so the drink isn’t warmed through body heat.

  • Vodka Martini
  • Gin Martini
  • Vesper
  • Brandy Alexander


A Cosmo glass has an elegant look. It resembles a martini glass but instead of a stem, it has a foot. This glass is great for Cosmopolitans (obviously) and a variety of other cocktails. The tapered design showcases the colors of the cocktail and draws the flavors and aromas to the top.

  • Cosmopolitan
  • Aperitifs
  • Other Cocktails


This glass is usually used for aged brown spirits such as whiskey, brandy, and fine rums. It has a very short stem so the drinker’s hand will slowly warm the drink and a large bowl so the drink can be swirled. The mouth is shorter so the aromas are trapped, allowing the drinker to enjoy a more intense smell as they sip.

  • Whiskey
  • Brandy

Irish Coffee

When serving hot cocktails like an Irish Coffee or a Hot Toddy, you should use an Irish Coffee glass. This glass is made to be heat resistant and it features a handle so the drinker can hold and sip the drink comfortably.

  • Irish Coffee
  • Hot Toddy


This glass was developed by New Orleans tavern owner Pat O’Brien in the 1940s and named after its hurricane, lamp-like shape. It’s used for a variety of drinks, specifically for tropical cocktails. The glass has a curvy and tall shape made up of a tulip-shaped bowl and a bulbous base. It also features a short stem and a small foot. This glass was originally used for the Hurricane Cocktail, a rum-based cocktail, but it is also used for cocktails like the Blue Hawaii and the Pina Colada.

  • Hurricane
  • Blue Hawaii
  • Pina Colada
  • Lava Flow


This glass is a variant of the classic champagne coupe and it’s slightly larger and rounder than a cocktail glass. It has a large, broad-rim so it can hold salt or sugar. This glass is used for frozen drinks like a margarita or a margarita on the rocks.

  • Margarita on the Rocks
  • Frozen Lime Margarita
  • Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri

Moscow Mule Mug

The Moscow Mule has been served in a copper mug since it first appeared in the the 1940s. The metal quickly takes on the cold temperature of the drink, offering a cooler sensation to the drinker. The copper and the mug handle help to keep the drink cold for a long period of time and the material is also great at deflecting the heat from the sun.

As far as the taste, the copper mug helps to enhance the individual flavors of the vodka, ginger beer, and lime. When the drink is poured, the copper begins to oxidize and slightly boosts the aroma and taste of vodka, the lime juice’s acidity is reduced and its tangy citrus notes are heightened, and the ginger beer becomes more bubbly.

  • Moscow Mule
  • Kentucky Mule

Whiskey Sour

This glass is pretty much a shorter version of a wine glass. It’s used for drinks with a base spirit, a sweetener, lemon or lime juice, and traditionally egg white like a Whiskey Sour or an Amaretto Sour. The glass has a thick stem to provide stability and a narrow top to boost and intensify drink aromas.

  • Whiskey Sour
  • Amaretto Sour
  • Pisco Sour
  • Kamikaze
  • Sidecar


As you may have guessed, the Zombie glass was originally used to serve a drink called the Zombie, a cocktail invented in the 1930s at the Beachcomber restaurant in Hollywood. The glass is typically taller than other glasses, coming in at around 7 or 8 inches tall and holding between 13 to 14 ounces of liquid.

  • Zombie
  • Mojito
  • Tom Collins


Considered to be an elegant glass, the cordial resembles a wine glass but it’s more delicate, thinner, and holds less alcohol. usually the cordial is used for after-dinner liqueurs or for cocktails at events. Cordials are small because they are meant to be sipped from slowly. They have large bowls that allow you to swish the liquid around to release the flavor and aroma.

  • Cordial
  • After-Dinner Liqeuer
  • After-Dinner Drink


Relying on a number of scientific facts about the behavior of liquid vapor in an open container, the NEAT glass is making waves in the spirits community. Its tulip-shaped body helps to concentrate the evaporated compounds at the neck. With a broad bulbous shape, it creates a larger surface area allowing for more evaporation. This expedites the release of alcohol vapor and volatile compounds. The flared lip helps to expel lighter vapor and leaves heavier compounds down by the neck, supposedly helping to accentuate aroma compounds with less alcohol burn.

  • Whiskey Neat
  • Bourbon Neat
  • Rye Neat
  • Scotch Neat
Find out the features BevSpot offers to help improve your bar.

Schedule 15mins to chat with a product specialist

Start a FREE Trial Today! BevSpot offers full product education and account setup for all customers! No card Information needed!

3 comments so far... Add your thoughts?
  1. Hi Brie Shelley,
    You shared the outstanding information about the wine decanters,But if you want to pouring (decanting) the contents from one vessel (typically a bottle) into another vessel by using wine aerator because these oxygenate the wine as it passes through the narrow tube drawing in air through a clever, then you must read all the procedure carefully are mentioned in the above information which provide you the best way of cleaning and transfer of material easily without wastage of material and time .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *