Cocktail Glassware

By Robert Hess

The vessel from which we drink our cocktails should not be overlooked. Whether traditional, iconic or modern the glassware used in serving a guest says a lot about what is inside.

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Comments
Kimberly Patton-Bragg 23 Jun 2008
9:25 am

Amen! My collection of glassware is getting a little outrageous as well. I’m glad the trend is moving away from everything in the V-shaped glass as well. Just a bugaboo of mine, but it drives me crazy when any concoction poured in a V- shaped cocktail glass is called a martini or a whatever-tini.

Robert Hess 23 Jun 2008
11:15 am

I think an important step forward that is needed for better glassware, is for manufacturers to start providing “more interesting” glassware then they currently do. Each of the stems you seem me use here cost around $7 to $10 apiece, although I’m sure if I was buying them “new” they would cost a whole lot more.

It isn’t necessary for glassware to be engraved in this fashion, just glassware that is or an more interestign design would be a move in the right direction.

But PLEASE let’s stop this 10oz+ size cocktail glasses that I keep seeing at Crate and Barrel and other such companies!!!

-Robert

The Scribe 23 Jun 2008
5:04 pm

Hey Robert,
I find glassware to be an interesting subject. While I was looking at it from a different episode, I recently made a post on the subject to my blog, A Dram of Brine. I was commenting on the way various glassware collects the aroma of a cocktail, not the way a drink looks, but I think both are related. Effectively, what both are going to is that we can produce the best cocktail possible, but how we present it allows the cocktail to be improved.
Cheers. - S

Vance Boelts 24 Jun 2008
11:21 am

I agree!  The 10 oz. is ridiculous.  Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe traditionally stemmed cocktails are 3-4 oz in serving.  I also was of the understanding that anything called a martini contains no citrus i.e. Manhatten, Vesper, Rob Roy,  Negroni etc.?

Robert Hess 24 Jun 2008
11:53 am

Vance,
Yes, “back in the day” cocktail glasses were a LOT smaller than they are now. Old barware catalogs from before prohibition showed cocktail glasses that averaged about 4.5 ounces in size. Which of course shouldn’t be too surprising. What IS surprising is that folks can get away with glases that bump into double digits in size. A “shot” of spirit is 1.5 ounces. This size is sort of based on the fact that this is the proper amount of spirit to use for a single drink. So if you use 1.5 ounces of gin, .5 ounces of dry vermouth, you have two ounces… stirred with ice will bump that up to maybe three ounces… which makes it fit perfectly in a 4 or 4.5 ounce glass. To make a drink which will fit properly in a 10 ounce glass you are either using way too much booze (it would be like drinking wine from a glass which could hold a whole bottle. What chances of seeing THAT in a fine dining restaurant?)... or you use so many “fillers” that you can no longer taste the spirit in/of the drink.

As for “anything called a martini”... it’s not the lack of citrus that defines a Martini… it is the use of gin and vermouth that defines it :->


Scribe,
Should have provided a link to your blog! (http://dramofbrine.blogspot.com/2008/06/through-crystal-darkly.html), we don’t mind that here, as long as you aren’t simply doing blatent spam-vertising.

I totally agree about the glass playing a critical role in wine, and even in spirits, and the way they taste or are perceived. I am less convinced that cocktails, or more specifically “highly chilled” beverages can be dramatically enhanced by glassware. I expect that there might be some broad designs which make good and bad cocktail glasses, but I think the “visual” factor is going to play more of a role here. People are just going to feel better about a cocktail served from a beautiful glass than they are an ordinary one.

-Robert

NJLady 24 Jun 2008
6:52 pm

I think your prized glass looks like a Fostoria Melrose.  I believe that pattern was around in the 1920’s.  I don’t have my reference up online but I’ve been toying with the idea of commissioning vintage glassware reproductions, and I have started recently collecting some vintage ones.  That is a lovely pattern.  It seems to be a forgotten bit of decadence to get a cocktail in a beautifully made glass from eras gone by.  Glad to have a chance to enjoy many of your episodes.  Best wishes

U-Place Mike 24 Jun 2008
8:54 pm

I too share Ms. Patton-Bragg’s peeve regarding every new cocktail being called a ________ martini or with the suffix tini or ini.  What happened a few years in Vancouver, BC was even worse.  I ordered a Negroni (I had to explain what it was.. somewhat understandable) at a fairly nice restaurant.  When the bartender served it to me she said, “Here is your Martini”.  It completely put me in a bad mood.  It seemed that every drink of that style was a Martini in her mind.  Very irritating.

The Scribe 25 Jun 2008
2:14 pm

U-Place,
That’s pretty interesting. Last time I was in I think it was a Keg, I noticed that they had switched from bad-ingredientinis to to serving classic cocktails like, specifically, the negroni. When I was in Vancouver last winter I noticed in general that cocktail lists were tending towards traditional cocktails. Of course, it could also be that we tend to go nicer restaurants when we are on vacation than we would otherwise, but I did notice that.
Cheers. - Spers

U-Place Mike 25 Jun 2008
5:37 pm

Scribe,
I need to correct the location.  It was in Victoria were the unfortunate incident took place.  Funny you should mention the Keg.  It was at the downtown Vancouver Keg on a prior trip that I discovered the liquid joy that is the Negroni.  The bar there was definitely promoting quality classics.

Cin-cin, U-Place Mike

AlchemistGeorge 3 Jul 2008
4:26 pm

10 oz? ouch!

For parties we use Libby 3oz mini-martini glasses - that way people can try a number of different drinks without getting hammered.  They are also quite solid, so when chilled in the freezer they stay cold. And they don’t break easily.

Dinah Sanders (MetaGrrrl) 3 Jul 2008
10:42 pm

I definitely encourage the collection of whatever old glass pleases you. Almost all my vintage stuff I’ve found in thrift stores at prices ranging from 50 cents to $3.

The hot tip here is to pick up that glass you like and carry it round with you looking at all the other shelves where they have glassware; it’s not at all uncommon for glass that comes in together to get separated. I’ve frequently found a neat one-off turns into a pair or even a set of 3 or more once I’ve made the rounds.

Harry W. Reineke IV 6 Jul 2008
4:35 pm

I was watching ‘Harvey’ the other night and saw that not only was his Martini in a smaller glass (like Robert shows here) but it seemed to be slightly darker than the glass was (possibly an ‘Original Martini’?).  Either way, I also hate the HUGE trend going on right now.  I much prefer smaller glasses.

Kate 11 Aug 2008
9:48 pm

I think that coupe shaped glass that Mr. Hess was saying he really liked is not unlike a older style “saucer” type champagne glass.  They went out of fashion because they aren’t a very good glass for serving champagne in (bubbles dissipate too quickly) but would be pretty glasses for some cocktails.

Lawrence Spies 21 Aug 2009
5:50 pm

Robert do you have or planing a video that shows what glasses or needed for a home bar?
Collins,  Low ball, etc…

I know there are a lot of glasses to choose from, but for the average home bar tender, on a budget or not, what glasses or “must haves” and the ones that would be nice to have in your inventory in the future.

Dinah (MetaGrrrl/Bibulous) 21 Aug 2009
9:18 pm

While we wait for Robert’s response I’ll weigh in with my experience. I’ve been slowly acquiring glasses secondhand with lots of character. I find this is has been a great way to get small rocks/old fashioned glasses. Since those are usually drinks where I’m sipping for a longer amount of time, I really appreciate the character of the old glasses.

Now and then a coupe with character turns up and I grab them because pretty ones are very hard to find in the restaurant supply stores in my experience. They usually have thick, heavy-stemmed ones.

What the restaurant supply stores can be great for are properly sized collins and cocktail glasses at 10oz and about half that respectively.

Go in with a friend or two unless you’re planning to throw a lot of parties. We’re party havers so having a couple dozen of each has been great for really cutting down the amount of washing we have to do during the evening and allows our guests to enjoy classy glassware.

One last tip: keep a couple each of cocktail, collins, and small sipping glasses (like you’d get wine in at an informal cafe) in the freezer. You’ll always be set for a refreshing beverage, whether boozy or otherwise.

Lawrence Spies 21 Aug 2009
10:16 pm

Thanks Dinah!

I have a set of 9oz rocks glasses I bought for making one of my favorite drinks, Caipirinha, plus I can use them for many other drinks as well. I don’t have a big selection of cocktail/martini glasses, probably work on those next.  Thanks for your input!

Robert Hess 22 Aug 2009
4:51 am

For the home bar, I feel that there are only two “must have” glasses. A stemmed cocktail glass, and a rocks/old fashioned glass. While certain drinks may have “traditional” glassware that many drinks might want to be served in, with those two glasses you can do a good job with either “up” or “on the rocks” drinks, which covers just about everything.

Then you can branch out from there by snooping around antique stores and picking up some unique and interesting glasses.

Lawrence Spies 22 Aug 2009
8:23 am

Thank you Robert! I will start adding to my cocktail/martini glass lineup next.

Lawrence Spies 24 Aug 2009
10:03 pm

Just a heads up on glassware. i was looking for small stemmed cocktail glasses and ran across some 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 oz Champagne Coupe style glasses on the Anchor Hocking website http://www.anchorhocking.com/prod_62_champagne_glasses.html
i love this style better than “V” shape. No price and not sure where to find them yet…

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