When to use the most common bar glasses, from the rocks glass, to the old fashioned, to the Collins to the coupe. Clyde Common’s Jeffrey Morgenthaler answers the eternal question “what the hell is this bar glass for?”
Almost as important as the cocktails we create, are the glasses we use to hold them. There is a variety of glassware out there to call upon, and each has its specific duties in the world of cocktails. Many of them have different names that you’ll often hear tossed around, we’ve included them here for reference.
Despite the name, this is one of the most versatile glasses behind the bar. Typically coming in at a four- to eight-ounce volume, the right rocks glass will allow you to serve a neat pour of a single spirit, a whiskey on the rocks, or even a perfectly prepared Sazerac.
Old Fashioned Glass (a.k.a. double rocks glass, tumbler, or bucket)
Perfect for a variety of drinks, from an Old Fashioned served on a large cube of ice, to any of the classic highballs (Gin and Tonic, Screwdriver, Cuba Libre) and of course, the Margarita. Any drink normally served “up” in a cocktail glass but requested on the rocks will be served in this glass. Typical size is eight to 11 ounces.
Collins Glass (a.k.a. tall glass or chimney)
This glass is for serving drinks lengthened with some sort of sparkling element, such as club soda or sparkling wine. The narrow, tall shape allows these drinks to remain effervescent for longer than their shorter, wider counterparts thanks to the minimal amount of surface exposed to the air. This is the choice of professionals for the Tom Collins and French 75.
The best are made of silver, others are silver plated, or pewter, or sometimes stainless steel. But there is no denying the joy that comes from a properly made Mint Julep in the late spring, served on crushed ice in a frosty Julep Cup. The only way to make a true Kentucky colonel proud, the julep cup’s true beauty lies in its metal, which conducts heat away from the cup’s interior and keeps your drink frozen for a long, long time.
Coupe (a.k.a. Champagne saucer)
Legend has it this glass was modeled from a cast of Marie Antoinette’s breast, though research shows that the glass was invented in England around 1663, predating the supposed model by close to a century. At my bar, we typically use this glass for small, spirit driven cocktails such as the Negroni, whose small proportions (three ounces before stirring) make a six-ounce coupe the perfect vessel.
Cocktail Glass (a.k.a. Martini glass)
In the 1990s, this glass grew to unwieldy proportions (sometimes 12 to 14 ounces), while in more recent years we’ve witnessed a return to more manageable cocktail volumes. Now most often found in five-to eight-ounce versions, this is the iconic glass immortalized in neon signs all over the world as the international symbol for cocktail bar. We usually reserve this glass for citrus-driven drinks, whose proportions demand a slightly larger vessel.
Small (six ounces, typically), handled, and often in a patterned crystal motif, the punch glass is the only choice for serving large format cocktails from a decorative punchbowl. Some models will come with hooks or hooked handles with which to attach to the side of the punch bowl for ease of storage.
Copper Mug (a.k.a. Moscow Mule mug)
In the 1940s, John Martin of the Hublein Corporation (with the rights to Smirnoff vodka) and Jack Morgan, owner of Cock ’n’ Bull ginger beer (and its namesake tavern in Los Angeles) came up with a marketing scheme to sell a great deal more of both their products. Add to the story Morgan’s girlfriend, who was apparently in the copper manufacturing business, and a drink was born. Throughout the 1950s, we saw vodka’s rise to power thanks to the celebrity endorsements of the Moscow Mule, made with Smirnoff vodka, Cock ’n’ Bull ginger beer, and served in an eight-ounce copper cup.