The right glass can set your concoction apart from the everyday liquor drink, enhancing the aroma and flavor, showing off a creative layering effect or preserving the natural carbonation that infuses champagnes and some liquors. An online retailer like Sur La Table or Crate & Barrel is a good place to start when setting up your own bar. Some of the more common drink types and the best glassware for serving each include:


Whether on tap or served from a bottle, beer is the great equalizer, bringing together folks from all walks of life. Traditionally, beer is served in a 16 oz. mug or a German stein, the materials and size of which can vary widely. A stein can also have a hinged lid operated by a thumb lever, whereas mugs are typically made of thick, heavy glass with a substantial handle. A pint glass is a good way to serve beer and mixed drinks that include beer, too. Then, there are pilsner glasses for the light beers. Those can range from 12 to 20 oz. and are tall and tapered to preserve carbonation and form a bigger head when poured. Fruit beers and lambics are commonly served in a flute glass.


The types of glasses for serving alcoholic drinks are as varied as the recipes used to make them. In general, the smaller the glass, the stronger the drink you put in it. Some, like a brandy snifter, have a short stem and concentrates the liquor's aroma, releasing it when activated by the heat from the drinker's hand.

Other glasses are taller, more elegant and made of clear or frosted glass. Common types include the Collins, highball and old-fashioned glasses. More to the point, a shot glass is exactly what the name indicates. Made of thick glass, they come in two types: a short glass at 2 inches and a tall one at 6 inches. Many bartenders also use a shot glass to measure ingredients for other cocktails.

A third type of cocktail glass features an elegant stem, like the cordial glass, most commonly used for serving a special liquor after a meal. Other stemmed cocktail glasses include hurricane and margarita glasses, used for exotic or tropical drinks and the aptly named cocktail glass, with a triangular design and long stem, used to serve martinis, Manhattans and metropolitans.

Wine and Champagne

Designed to enhance the experience for a more refined palate, these glasses also hold in the carbonation, while keeping the liquid within at the perfect temperature. There are separate glasses for red and white wines, which can be distinguished by the shape of their bowl. A red wine glass has a round bowl, exposing the wine to more oxygen, which enhances the inherent flavors, while a white wine glass is long and tapered to prevents unwanted temperature changes. Finally, the sherry glass, which looks similar to a red wine glass but is much shorter, enhances the aroma and flavor of sherries, ports and aperitifs.