The right glasses for your high-end cocktails

A good cocktail consists of a mix of bold and subtle flavors. The way humans taste those flavors is heavily dependent on obvious variables such as temperature, and also more obscure aspects like how the liquid contacts the tongue. To that end, the type of glass used to serve a cocktail has a big influence on the drink’s quality.

It’s not only about taste, either. The way a cocktail looks also has a profound effect on the overall experience. The last thing you want to do is marginalize a drink’s appearance because you don’t have the right glass for showcasing colors, gradients and garnishes. Luckily for home bartenders, there’s no shortage of high-end cocktail glasses to choose from.

How to pick the right cocktail glasses

First, consider what type of cocktails you and your guests like the most. If you’re a big fan of whiskey, make sure to collect some smaller glasses that can accommodate the size of a common dram. If fruity, sour beverages are more your thing, consider wide-rimmed glasses that increase surface area and help bring out some aromatics. And of course, if you love to compare and contrast various beers and wines, you’ll need a set of glasses that work perfectly with each variety to get the most out of your favorite beverages.

Cocktail glass size

Classic bar drinks such as the old-fashioned, martini and cosmopolitan don’t usually have a ton of volume. For that style, it’s worth having some traditional, mid-size rocks glasses on hand. For enjoying bright, refreshing cocktails, you’ll need something larger.

And while most people are familiar with the classic pint glass, many types of craft beer taste significantly better from tulip glasses, for example. Similarly, fans of high-end wine know full well that the size of the glass helps to evaluate its body and appearance while allowing for the right amount of oxidation.

Shape and surface area

The easiest example of shape influencing a drink’s quality is champagne, typically served in the iconic champagne flute. Tall and slim glasses such as flutes minimize the liquid’s contact with air and prevent the loss of all-important carbonation. Any drink that’s carbonated or includes a fizzy mixer will benefit from a tall glass, rather than a wide one.

On the other hand, drinks that rely on smell as much as direct flavor works best in wide-rimmed glasses. Allowing fragrant liquors and bitters contact with the air helps release those critical aromatics and prepare your palate for a powerful flavor every time you raise the glass to your lips.

Cocktail glass material

Simple glass is the most common material, but it’s not the only one. If you have rambunctious kids or pets or plan to enjoy beverages outside a lot, plastic is worth considering. It rarely delivers the same high-quality experience as glass, but it’s practically unbreakable. If it does break, you won’t find yourself cleaning innumerable glass shards from your lawn, patio or pool area.

Then there are crystal glasses. Despite the name, crystal glasses aren’t made from actual crystal, but instead, a subtype of glass with a chemical such as a metal oxide added to the mix. Crystal behaves quite differently from glass.

Crystal glasses usually have higher density but lower thickness than common glasses, because the material melts at a lower temperature and remains strong even when very thin. Don’t mistake that strength for durability, though, because high-end crystal is typically much thinner and therefore more brittle than common glass. 

Crystal also tends to look fancier than standard glass, due to the way it refracts light. Since crystal is worked at lower temperatures than glass, it can hold more intricate designs and patterns. Those patterns, coupled with the refraction crystal offers, can make for spectacular, even prismatic effects when light plays off the glass and beverage.

If you love fancy cocktails, it’s worth investing in a set of crystal glasses. Be warned, though, that they require care to keep from breaking and can’t go in the dishwasher. You also might be surprised just how big of an investment you have to make to get the most high-end crystal cocktail glasses.

Best cocktail glasses for home bars

Libbey Z-Stem Martini Glasses

Libbey Z-Stem Martini Glasses

Whether you make yours with gin or vodka, these novel glasses ensure your favorite martini looks great.

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Libbey Cosmopolitan Martini Glasses

Libbey Cosmopolitan Martini Glasses

Not everybody prefers holding stemmed glasses or worrying about them getting knocked over. Consider these stemless martini glasses instead, which also double as cosmopolitan or old-fashioned glasses in a pinch.

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JoyJolt Bloom Coupe Crystal Glasses

JoyJolt Bloom Coupe Crystal Glasses

These 275-milliliter coupe glasses are perfect for complex, high-test adult beverages that pack tons of flavor into each sip.

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MyGift Tilting Whisky Glasses

MyGift Tilting Whisky Glasses

Despite the name, these are great for high-powered, traditional recipes such as the old-fashioned. They’re not the most stable, but they add a classy flair to any cocktail party.

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Schott Zwiesel Tritan Collins Glasses

Schott Zwiesel Tritan Collins Glasses

Also known as highballs, Collins glasses are great for fruity drinks on the rocks that taste best through a straw.

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Viski Raye Gin Glasses

Viski Raye Gin Glasses

There’s an extensive universe of gins to choose from, but they’re all united in their powerful, complex aromas and pungent herbal flavors. These thin-lipped, wide-rimmed glasses have enough room inside to bring out the most subtle flavors so you get more than just juniper from your gin and tonic.

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Libbey Blue Ribbon Margarita Glasses

Libbey Blue Ribbon Margarita Glasses

These sturdy, stemless options are great for your favorite tequila drink, whether it’s blended or on the rocks.

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Glencairn Whisky Glass

Glencairn Whisky Glass

The most iconic glass among whiskey enthusiasts, the Glencairn sports a heavy base and the perfect capacity for premium liquor. Most important, though, is its shape, which funnels complex, often smoky, salty and woody aromas straight to the nasal passages.

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Regal Trunk Co. Mixing Glass

Regal Trunk & Co. Mixing Glass

A little different from the rest, this one’s for gently mixing cocktails before pouring them, and includes a tall measuring jigger, cocktail spoon and Hawthorne strainer.

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Riedel O Wine Tumblers

Riedel O Wine Tumblers

At every party, somebody will probably knock over a wine glass. Serving in stemless wine glasses significantly reduces that risk. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit very specific types of adult grape juice.

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Muldale Tulip Beer Glasses

Muldale Tulip Beer Glasses

Thick, malty Belgians and sharp, piney IPAs both shine in this graceful glass made from premium, ultrathin crystal.

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Libbey Pale Ale Glasses

Libbey Pale Ale Glasses

Similar to a champagne flute, but for beer, their tall, slim shape preserves effervescence and helps bring out the freshest flavors in many American pale ales.

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Best reusable straws for home bars

Reusable straws made from bamboo or nonreactive metal can greatly improve the cocktail drinking experience. They’ll also keep you from realizing right before guests show up that you have plenty of ingredients, but nothing to drink with.

Bambaw Reusable Bamboo

Bambaw Reusable Bamboo

They come in two lengths and varying widths, which is helpful because wider straws make some cocktails taste better than thin ones.

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Vannise Smoothie Straws

Vannise Smoothie Straws

If you like iced, blended drinks like hurricanes, you’ll need straws that can accommodate their thick texture.

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Ibambo Bamboo

Ibambo Bamboo

These eight-inch straws won’t harm delicate glasses and can be reused quite a few times before they need to be replaced. They’re available in bulk packs of 100, too.

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Ello Multicolor

Ello Multicolor

With five distinctly different finishes, these help you mark cocktails so guests don’t mix them up.

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No Worries Atoll Straw Set

No Worries Atoll Straw Set

If you want the perfect straw for any kind of beverage that you and a friend or family member could want, you can’t go wrong with this varied set.

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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