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Types of Bar Glasses and Their Names
You’d be surprised just how many different bar glasses there are, special glasses for wines, a myriad of beer glass types and enough styles of cocktail glasses to keep any glass factory busy for a lifetime.
But if you’re going to have a bar, even a home bar, having the correct glass for at least your favorite drink can make a real difference.
Although some glasses are really just for show or decoration, other have an actual purpose. For example, a good red wine glass is shaped specifically so you can both swirl the wine, and smell it as you are sipping. Smell can really enhance drink or food.
And you’d never have a hot drink in a glass as it will most likely shatter or crack. So yeah, there are reasons for all these different types of bar glasses.
- Types of Bar Glasses
- Beer Service
- Liquor Service
- Champagne and Wine
- Multipurpose Bar Glassware
- Style & Durability
- Bar Glass Functionality
The many types of beer glasses can get a bit overwhelming sometimes. And now with all the microbreweries even a few of them have jumped in the game by having special glasses created specifically to pair with their own beers. Cool idea though!
But for me, I’ll always be a lover of the traditional pint glass. It’s thick and heavy and holds a proper pint of any brew you want. And it simply looks great. I had two types of beer glasses in my bar, the pint glass and a smaller pilsner beer glass. That was it. And to be honest, they were all I really needed.
So if you are thinking of beer glasses for your home bar, just get a few pint glasses and a few smaller glasses like these. Unless you really have an infinity for drinking out of a stien or thistle glass.
Beer Mugs and Steins
I get why some people want a beer mug, I don’t get the stein thing though. They are heavy and not so easy to drink out of. But I guess to each their own.
Beer mugs are a second great option for barware. They are heavy with thick bottoms and don’t break as easily as a pint glass would. They also cost a few cents more. But they look good and are a sturdy product.
As far as steins go, well…there is a huge world of steins out there. Some are really beautiful and really expensive. I couldn’t imagine having them in a public bar or pub. But for me, they are more for decoration than something you could use everyday.
I always thought they’d make better coffee cups as they usually have a cover and are insulated. Who knows, maybe that’ll be Starbuck’s next move!
There’s nothing like a solid shot glass for that whiskey shot or whatever you’re in the mood for. I love the ones with the thick bottoms. Those bottoms also help when you have shots like a tequila popper where you need to slam the shot glass on the table before you shoot it.
There are also a few basic styles of shot glasses to notice as well. Some are high and thin and also called shooter glasses, while others have wider mouths and are shorter.
There are also a lot of size variations. Some hold one ounce, one and a half ounces or even two, or three ounces. And of course less as well.
I simply like the “traditional” shot glasses with a little weight to them. They are usually the “accepted” size of one and a half ounces for a shot glass. You can see them here.
Get a pack of 12 for a home bar. For a commercial bar, you should start with 144, or 12 dozen.
Another must have glass for any type of drinking establishment. Yes, again, I love the thick bottoms and heaviness of a well made whiskey glass. They are functional and look and feel as good as they look.
These are specifically made to serve whiskey in and make great gifts for whiskey lovers. Just make sure you get quality ones with thick bottoms and sides. They should last a lifetime.
Shooter glasses are usually taller than rocks glasses are. They are made for things like teqilia shooters and a ton of other “Shooter” class recipes.
Don’t skimp on these and buy the thinner ones as a true shooter shot is often something that is slammed on the table to get a fizzy drink, and if you get the cheaper varieties they’ll of ten break after a few uses. Get something like these and you’ll be good.
And if you don’t have shooter glasses, just use a shot glass. It’s the closest alternative.
Rocks glasses are very similar to whiskey glasses and either can be used as alternatives. If you have a bar, you’ll need plenty of these types of glasses as most mixed drinks are served in either these or a highball glass as well as the simple “on the rocks” drinks where these glasses get their name. So get something nice as presentation is important.
For a home bar I’d suggest you have at least 6 quality glasses on hand in case friends show up. Anything from a rum and cranberry to a Iron Butterfly drink can be served in these.
Old Fashioned Glasses
Very similar to the rocks whiskey glasses above, old fashioned glasses are short glasses meant for mixed drinks. White Russians or an Old Fashioned cocktail are the types of drinks these are made for. But in a pinch any of the short glasses I’ve already mentioned are an acceptable alternative to the old fashion glass.
These are what you will normally see a rum and coke or summer cocktails like a day at the beach cocktail served in. They are taller than an Old Fashioned glasses, but shorter than Collins glasses.
Anything that has a lot of mixers or mix, this is what you use. Think Long Island ice tea, tequila sunrise and on and on.
If you’re a bar, get loads of these. They can be used as water and soda glasses as well.
Collins glasses are the taller and skinnier cousin to the highball glass above. They usually have thinner walls as well. The design is supposed to be sleek and “upscale” and the usual drink for these is the Tom Collins and any of it variants.
They can also be used as a replacement for a highball glass, but remember that they are more fragile and won’t take the use highball glasses will.
Hurricane glasses make any type of frozen drink look great. They get their name from the frozen hurricane drink and used for many types of frozen drinks like frozen daiquiris or frozen summer drink types of beverages.
These are more fragile than many of the glasses I’ve already written about above, so care should be taken when you’re washing and using them. And for a home bar anyway, if you aren’t a big fan of frozen drinks, then I suggest forgoing these and just using a highball glass for that occasional one.
Ah the martini. The glass is just as iconic as the drink. To serve a martini in any other glass is simply blaspheme! These fragile glasses just look great and can accept more than just martinis.
Serve martins, cosmopolitans and even champagne to give these drinks a truly upscale presentation. Just remember, they are fragile, so wash and store with care.
Cosmopolitan glasses are fun, stemless cocktail glasses that are great for holding cosmopolitans and other cocktails. They are a (non) acceptable replacement for a martini glass if you really just can’t do better. But the preferred alternative is to replace this glass with a martini glass.
When serving margaritas, whether frozen margaritas or on the rocks, serve them in margarita glasses. These glasses are perfect for serving margaritas of any size, from small, seven ounce margaritas all the way to sixty ounce super margaritas.
These also come in plastic for pool parties and such and the plastic ones don’t even look half bad. Check out our article on the best blenders for margaritas here if you’re a margarita addict like I am.
Brandy snifters are glasses specifically made to enjoy a glass a brandy in. Just like a wine glass these glasses are specially made to let the brandy breathe and as you are drinking, the wider mouth of the glass allows you to smell the brandy. You can even twirl the brandy like you would a red wine.
Small wine glasses can be an acceptable replacement. But these glasses are best used for what they are meant for. So if you do enjoy brandy, then get a few of these glasses. They really will heighten your brandy enjoyment.
Coffee glasses are made of very tough glass that can withstand heat. You can serve any type of hot drinks in them like a hot toddy or of course coffee drinks. My favorite is an Irish coffee with Baily’s, yum!
These glasses look good and are thick and tough. You can use these for things like milk shakes too, the drink doesn’t need to be hot.
But understand, serving hot drinks in glasses that are not specifically designed for heat will result in a broken glass. Sometimes it will shatter while you’re pouring the heated beverage into the glass. ALWAYS use these or mugs for hot drinks!
Usually tall and narrow, cordial glasses can be used for serving a variety of sweet liquors. In a pinch, they also work well for serving beer samples.
Champagne and Wine
Red Wine Glasses
Red wine glasses are specially designed for serving and drinking red wines. They are not the same as white wine glasses. If you want to know the differences I have an article titled White VS. Red Wine Glasses – What Are The Differences?
Red wine likes to breathe before being drunk, this is one of the reasons you’d use a wine decanter to hold the wine rather than just leaving it in a bottle.
This is also why red wine glasses are rounder and the mouth of the glass is wider than a white wine glass. And although it is fine to hold the wine glass by the bowl when consuming, if you’re serving the wine, always hold the glass by its stem as to avoid leaving fingerprints on the bowl of the glass.
These types of glasses are often fragile, so take care when using and cleaning. It’s best to keep these types of glasses on a wine glass rack or above the bar and out of the way. They aren’t cheap but they are well worth the investment.
White Wine Glasses
White wine glasses are less round and the mouth of the glass is smaller than their red wine counterparts. The glass is meant to be held by the stem as to not heat up the wine as white wine should be served chilled. This is true when making white wine cocktails as well.
And like above, these glasses are fragile as the walls of the glass are often very thin, so take care when using or cleaning them. It’s best to keep them in a safe place like in a wine rack above your head.
For champagne or sparkling white wine service, keep a stock of champagne glasses. These glasses are also great for mimosas. Sparkling wine glasses come in both flute and bowl shapes. Either is fine, but flute glasses will maintain the carbonation in the champagne.
Use sherry glasses to serve aromatic or fortified wines, like sherry, port and Madeira. They can also be used to serve aperitifs, liqueurs or layered shooters.
Multipurpose Bar Glassware
Keep an extra supply of beverage glasses around for soda and water orders. These are great for serving designated drivers or patrons who want a water or soda in addition to their cocktail. Also, if you run out of pint, double rocks or highball glasses, beverage glasses can be used in a pinch.
Glass goblets can be used to serve a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, from wine, to water, to brandy, to cocktails.
At a busy restaurant, things happen fast. Dinner plates come and go, tables are bussed, glassware is switched out, and the next patron sits down for a meal. At least one glass is used for every patron, and then gets washed and turned over to the next customer.
Durability is a must, but functionality and presentation are also important. Finding the balance can sometimes be tough.
Balancing Bar Glassware Between Style & Durability
The thicker the glass, the less likely it is to break.
Beverage glasses or hi-ball glasses should be thick. Glasses with a beaded or rolled rim are less likely to crack or break than those without. Keep that in mind when buying.
Straight edge glasses are more durable than flared or curvy glasses.
For busy operations that have a lot of glass turnover, consider using straight edged glasses when you can. These are less likely to break than flared or curved glasses because their structure is more stable.
Treated glass is more durable.
Most commercial glassware goes through a series of processes after being pressed into its shape. They are made stronger through annealing, and some are heat treated for extra durability. While heat treating makes glasses more resistant to thermal and mechanical shock, they still have the potential to break. When treated glasses do break, they tend to shatter. Be aware of this if you choose to buy heat treated glass.
Bar Glass Functionality
Thinner rims are better when it comes to wine glasses.
Even though a thicker wine glass will not break as easily, the thick rim takes away from the taste of the wine. The thinner the glass, the less interference there is between wine and mouth.
Stemless glasses are great for red wine.
When serving red wine, you can use a stemless glass, or a stemmed glass. Stemless glasses are less prone to breakage since there is no stem or foot to worry about. When the glass is held, your hand warms the glass and keeps the red wine from cooling.
Sometimes glasses that are more functional may not be quite as durable. The trick is to find the balance that best fits your business or home bar.