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Guide to Cocktail Glasses

Kathleen Esposito
Reviewed by Mixologist and BarSmarts Graduate Karen Frazier

Match Drinks and Glasses

Any bartender can read and follow a drink recipe, but you can take your cocktail game to the next level by using the appropriate glassware. This guide to matching the cocktail glassware to the drink can brush up your cocktails' presentation.


The snifter (also called the balloon) has a short stem and a bulbous top. The standard size for the snifter is six to eight ounces. It is designed to capture the aroma of brandy, Armagnac, or Cognac using its wide bowl and narrow mouth to seal it in. It is also useful for a smooth pour, since you can tip the glass to its side without the liquid spilling out. It's the ideal glass for drinking brandy neat.


The flute (or trumpet glass) has a lean, tall shape makes it perfect for Champagne and sparkling wine, as well as for Champagne cocktails such as the bellini or mimosa. It allows for small sips and helps retain the carbonation. The average glass holds six ounces.

Highball Glass

The highball glass is tall, cylindrical and sturdy, holding between eight and 12 ounces. It is best for cocktails that contain both carbonation and ice such as the highball. Popular drinks served in this glass include the gin and tonic and 7 and 7, as well as the ever-popular rum and Coke.

Collins Glass

The collins glass is a little taller and a little more tapered than the highball, but they are often interchangeable. Like the highball, it holds eight to 12 ounces. This glass is ideal for sodas, mixed drinks like the Mai Tai and Long Island iced tea, fizzes, and of course, any of the collins drinks including Tom Collins, vodka collins, and John Collins.

Rocks Glass

This short, thick, and hardy glass is for liquor served "on the rocks", which means over ice, especially whiskeys. It's also used for martini-type cocktails when the patron requests ice, as well as for serving wiskey, scotch, bourbon, or rye neat or as an old fashioned cocktail. Also called an old fashioned glass, it holds eight ounces of liquid.

Martini Glass

Used for martinis, cosmopolitans, and other "straight up" cocktails, or cocktails without ice, this glass (also called a cocktail glass) is the picture of sophistication. The inverted cone bowl allows plenty of room for garnishes and the long stem makes it easy to hold between the fingers. Common sizes are six to 12 ounces.

Show your bartending know-how by chilling the martini glass before using it. To chill quickly, add a scoop of ice and a splash of water and let the glass sit while you mix the drink. Dump out the ice and water right before you strain the drink into the glass.

Absinthe Glass

The absinthe glass helps bartenders easily measure this strong distilled spirit. The tulip bowl with a short stem shape is designed to hold between an ounce and an ounce and a half with clearly defined pour lines. It is rare to use this glass with any other type of alcohol.

Margarita Glass

This glass has a broad rim, allowing for the sugar or salt garnish popular with margaritas and daiquiris. The bowl tapers into the stem to allow patrons to easily hold the glass without feeling a chill on their fingers. Most hold nine ounces of liquid. They can also be used to hold appetizers, such as cocktail shrimp.

Cordial Glass

The sweetness of cordials begs for small portions. This glass (also called a Sherry glass) allows the bartender to deliver. Cordial glasses can vary in shape and may or may not have stems. Common features are that they hold between one and two ounces and are more rounded in shape than the shot glass. Often, they have decorative etching on the outside.

Hurricane Glass

This hourglass-shaped tumbler with a squat stem is for mixed drinks that typically contain larger servings. The glass holds 20 ounces and is perfect for not only hurricanes but also Singapore slings, piña coladas, and blue Hawaiians.

Shot Glass

This glass holds exactly 1.5 ounces of liquor (although you can find shot glasses that are larger), and its tapered shape allows for easy pour to multiple glasses at the same time. It's also a hardy glass made to withstand quick and vigorous use and reuse. Shot glasses come in a huge variety of colors and styles. Many are novelty items.

Wine Glasses

There are a number of different types of wine glasses you can also use with cocktails. In fact, a large wine glass can substitute in a pinch to hold frozen blended drinks such as daiquiris.

Beer Glasses

While beer glasses come in all shapes and sizes and are the perfect serving vessels for beer, they're also good for certain mixed drinks such as blended drinks, ice-cream float style drinks, and even for a spirit and soda style drink.

Irish Coffee Mug

Irish coffee mugs are perfect for hot cocktails, especially if they've got layers or have whipped cream on the top. They're also attractive for hot toddies, hot buttered rum, mulled wine, and Tom and Jerry drinks. They typically hold around 8 ounces and are made of clear glass.

Mule Cup

It's not a glass, but the copper mule cup is traditionally used to make the popular Moscow mule cocktail that contains vodka and ginger beer. The original mule cups were copper mugs imprinted with a kicking mule. They hold eight to 12 ounces. If you don't have a mule cup, you can always substitute a rocks glass.

Julep Cup

Another non-glass cocktail cup is the mint julep cup. The mint julep is a version of one of the oldest types of cocktails known as a smash, and its traditional serving vessel is a sterling silver cup. It's the iconic go-to serving vessel for this proud Southern cocktail associated with the Kentucky Derby. Since the 1800s the cups have been widely coveted and collected. Churchill Downs, home of the Derby, has produced an official julep cup since the 1950s. There is no standard size for the cup.

If you don't have sterling silver julep cups, it's perfectly fine to serve them in a highball glass.

An Array of Cocktail Glasses

There are plenty of cocktail glasses available made by specialty producers with interesting shapes, non-standard sizes, and artistic license taken in producing the barware. However, to produce drinks traditionally, the above glasses are perfect for sending out an array of classic, beautiful cocktails.

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Guide to Cocktail Glasses