Remember when we talked about the common bar tools bartenders use for making drinks, as well as the essential base spirits, syrups and liqueurs?
Now, it’s all very well having those tools and ingredients to make cocktails with, but what about the vessels used to contain those drinks?
Yes, I’m talking about glasses, which are also a crucial part of bartending, not just for aesthetic reasons. Using the right glass for a cocktail is as important as choosing the right spirits. Sure, you can still drink your Martini from a coffee mug, but it wouldn’t be the same, would it?
Of course, if you’re only making simple cocktails at home like the whisky highball, gin and tonic, or the Negroni, then having a simple highball glass or rock glass would be enough to cover all your cocktail glass needs. But if you’re looking to really up your cocktail-making game, then here is a simple guide on what kind of cocktail glasses are available and what drinks you can make with them.
To keep things simple, we won’t be talking about specialty wine, beer or whisky tasting glasses, only glasses that are commonly used in cocktails. As for where to get them in Malaysia, you can try kitchenware stores, or specialty bar accessories/spirits purveyors like The 4 Barmen or Wholly Spirits.
With its distinctive, angular V-shape and long elegant stem, this is arguably the most recognisable cocktail glass around. In fact, the correct term IS “cocktail glass”; the name “Martini glass” was probably coined because it was the most famous drink served in this kind of glass.
The Martini glass is mainly used for cocktails that don’t contain ice. The long stem means you won’t be heating up the cocktail with your hand when drinking it, while the broad surface of the cone-shaped bowl means your nose gets full exposure to the aromas coming from the drink and garnish.
These days, however, the Martini glass can be considered a little outdated, as many modern bartenders tend to favour the coupe glass instead. Still, if you ask me, there’s really no substitute for drinking a martini out of a Martini glass.
Besides the Martini, other classic cocktails that are usually served in this glass include the Cosmopolitan, the Manhattan, and Sidecar.
According to an article by Difford’s Guide, the coupe (pronounced “koo-pay”) was designed in England in 1663 as a champagne glass. It was still popularly used for champagne up till the 1960s, but since its broader surface area makes the champagne bubbles go flat rather quickly, it was gradually replaced with the flute.
These days, however, the coupe is back in fashion as the go-to glass for the modern bartender.
It’s not hard to see why – it has the same wide rim and stem that gives an almost similar drinking experience as the Martini glass.
The curvier shallow bowl shape is also a lot less unwieldy than the V-shaped Martini glass, which is prone to spillage if not held properly.
It’s versatile enough to be used for most drinks that are served “straight” without ice. Some of the classic cocktails the coupe is commonly used for include the Daiquiri and Gimlet, though it is also used for drinks that are usually in a Martini glass, like the Martinez, Sidecar, and even the Margarita.
Speaking of champagne, the coupe is also a common sight at weddings, not as a drinking vessel, but to form the champagne fountain that the happy couple pours champagne over.
This style of tall glass is one of those you must have in your home bar simply because you can use it for so many simple yet tasty tall drinks with ice such as the mojito, gin and tonic, whisky highball, Tom Collins, Bloody Mary and so on.
The Collins glass is named after the Collins style of cocktail, which is made using a base spirit, lemon juice, sugar and a carbonated mixer like soda or tonic.
It tends to have a more shapely look compared to the stout and slightly shorter highball glass.
An old-fashioned glass is another must-have in your home bar, not just because of its versatility, but also because it is usually sturdy and solid, can hold a decent amount of ice, and is less prone to breakage.
Also known as a tumbler, this is usually used to drink spirits like whisky or brandy with ice (known as “on the rocks”, hence the name, rock glass), though it is also the go-to glass for classic cocktails like the Negroni, Boulevardier, Black Russian, and of course, the Old-Fashioned.
There are many more styles of cocktail glasses, from the kitschy- looking tiki mugs to cocktail-specific glasses like the Hurricane glass, the Pina Colada glass, and so on. And we haven’t even gone into the various wine, beer and other spirit-specific glasses yet.
But here are a couple more you might want to consider having around, as they are also used for drinks that can be easily made at home.
Margarita: Used for, well, Margaritas. Recognisable for its “double bowl” shape, with a wide rim that makes it easy to rim the glass with salt for a Margarita. While it’s nice to have one around, it’s not exactly essential, because you can still use a rock glass or another cocktail glass to serve your Margarita.
Shotglass: While you don’t actually need a shot glass to drink shots, it can be fun to have one or two around to make classic cocktail shots like the Kamikaze or the Brain Haemorrhage. Useful when making Boilermakers (beer paired with a shot of whiskey) as well!
Julep Cup: A conical cup made of metal (usually pewter or silver, but also copper or tin) that is used to make the Mint Julep classic cocktail.
Mule mug: A copper mug that traditionally has a mule engraved on it, and is used for the Moscow Mule and other similar drinks.