Glassware: The Long and Short of It

GLASSWARE:
THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

Glasses come in all shapes and sizes.

By Rob Chirico

A fine cocktail is as much a pleasure to behold as it is to drink. It is said that the champagne goblet was modeled on Marie Antoinette’s breast. Glasses, like breasts, come in all shapes and sizes. Lead crystal, which possesses an almost lofty musical tone—and a price to match—should be your glass of choice. The best glasses are thin lipped yet have a substantial feel. Always choose a long-stemmed glass for cold drinks served without ice. As tempting as it may be to grab the bowl of a cocktail or other stemmed glass—or as necessary as it may be after imbibing several—the purpose of the stem is to keep body heat away from the beverage. Do not be seduced by colossal goblets just because they are fashionable: Keep in mind the effect of two martinis and stick to the more traditional 4- or 5-ounce glass, which will ensure visual elegance and a clearer head.

Which glasses and how many should you buy? If you like to entertain but are on a budget, there are kitchenware stores to accommodate you. Always buy more than you need, because it is easier to go to your closet when one breaks than it is to head back to the store. Also, glasses go out of fashion, and your favorite may no longer be available. You should also have a special cache of glasses just for special occasions.

Beer mug, stein, and pilsner glass. These glasses are popular for beer-based cocktails.
Brandy snifter. This type of glass ranges from a small, 4-ounce globe, which can fit neatly into the palm of the hand, to a balloon-sized, 24-ounce Goliath.
Champagne flute and glass. The flute is favored over the saucer champagne glass because the former keeps the bubbles from dissipating too quickly.
Cocktail or martini glass. Although martinis have been around for more than a century, the familiar triangular glass shape did not come into vogue until the 1950s. Prior to that, cocktail glasses came in all shapes and sizes, but they all had stems.
Collins or chimney glass. This is a tall, slim, frosted glass ideal for summer drinks.
Cordial glass. This glass, stemmed or not, is also called a pony glass.
Highball glass. A standard for a traditional mixed drink, such as a Bloody Mary or a gin and tonic.
Irish coffee mug. This glass, which has a handle, is used for all hot drinks.
Margarita glass. Although the margarita may be served in any stemmed glassware, its popularity has generated festive, ample-bowled glasses specifically for this drink.
Old-fashioned or rocks glass. Also known as an on-the-rocks glass, this glass can be straight sided or barrel shaped.
Pousse Café glass. This glass resembles a cordial glass, but it usually flares out slightly at the top.
Punch bowl and glasses. Usually sold in sets, these glasses and bowls range from simple, clear glass to elaborate cut crystal.
Sherry glass. This glass is ideal for apéritifs.
Shot glass. This glass does not vary beyond a 1- to 2-ounce capacity.
Sour glass. The slender sister to her brother, the cocktail glass.
Special glasses. These may include hurricane glasses, mugs, goblets, and the like.
Wineglasses. Choose red or white wineglasses for frozen drinks.

Reprinted with permission from Field Guide to Cocktails (Quirk Books, 2005).