Types of Cocktail Glasses
There are few hard and fast rules about cocktail glasses for serving cocktails and there is certainly no need to run out and buy dozens of new ones. Most people have a stock of variously shaped cocktail glasses, including wine glasses, tall tumblers and whisky tumblers. You might like to treat yourself to some ‘proper’ cocktail glasses, if you have not already got some. There are, of course, many other sorts of glasses and each recipe in this site suggests an appropriate glass for serving the cocktail, but these are suggestions rather than rules.
However, there are a few guidelines which apply whatever type of glass you are using.
- Always use glass, not plastic which taints the taste of the cocktail.
- Always use plain, uncoloured, unpatterned glass.
- Always polish the glasses with a soft cloth and keep them absolutely clean.
- Always allow enough room for the decoration and never fill the glass to the brim.
The following list of glasses is by no means exhaustive but includes the more common kinds found in the cocktail bar for use as cocktail glasses:
A stemmed glass, with a v-shaped, straight-sided bowl. Capacity ranges from 5 cl/2 fl oz to 28 cl/10 fl oz.
Also called a whisky tumbler and Old Fashioned glass. A flat-bottomed glass with sloping sides. Capacity about 16 cl/6 fl oz.
Also known as a Collins glass. Squat-stemmed or flat-bottomed glass with straight or slightly flared sides. Capacity ranges from 23 cl/8 fl oz to 45 cl/16 fl oz.
For white wine, a long-stemmed glass with a tulip-shaped bowl. For red wine, a shorter-stemmed glass with a rounder bowl. Capacity ranges from 12 cl/4 fl oz to 23 cl/8 fl oz.
Champagne flute, stemmed glass with tulip-shaped bowl. This is the better glass to use for champagne and champagne-based cocktails. Champagne saucer, stemmed glass with saucer-shaped bowl. The effervescence of sparkling wine is quickly lost and the glass itself can be rather impractical.
Short-stemmed glass with very round bowl to allow the drinker to enjoy the brandy’s aroma. Capacity ranges from the very small to the absolutely gigantic.
Decorating the cocktail is as important as mixing it. Some cocktails, such as Horse’s Neck, have traditional garnishes (a spiral of lemon rind in this case) and these are given in the recipes which follow. But this is one area where the amateur barman can give full rein to his creative flair. Do, however, bear in mind that the fruit, peel or whatever you are using should complement the flavour as well as the appearance of the cocktail, and try to avoid concealing the cocktail behind such a jungle of decoration that the drinker cannot get his lips to it without being slapped in the face with slices of fruit!
Some basic garnishes and equipment are listed below.
Invaluable for spearing cherries and slices of fruit. Wooden sticks must be replaced each time. Plastic sticks should be sterilized in boiling water before they are re-used.
These are very useful with long drinks. Many prettily patterned, flexible plastic straws are available, but do not re-use.
Green olives stuffed with pimento are essential.
Oranges and lemons
A good supply is essential for slices and strips of peel.
Limes are immensely useful. Other frequently used fruits include pineapple, banana, apple, peach and mango. Do not use canned or bottled fruit.
Cinnamon and nutmeg
Useful for sprinkling on the top of some cream cocktails.
Thinly sliced cucumber is useful for long drinks and punches.
Essential for some cocktails, such as Mint Julep, and an unusual and attractive decoration for punches and coolers.
Useful for dry drinks.
A useful ingredient and essential for frosting the rims of glasses (see below).
Essential if you are serving Margaritas.
A fine frost of sugar around the rim of a glass adds an extra special finish to the cocktail. Frosted glasses should only be used for sweet cocktails.
Dip the glass in a saucer of egg white so that the rim is just submerged. Then dip it evenly into a saucer of caster sugar until it is well coated. Allow the frosting to dry completely before using the glass. A few drops of food colouring may be added to give an even more impressive frosting.
A Margarita is always served in a glass frosted with fine salt in a similar way.