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What Type Of Glasses Should You Use For Cocktails?

Is it really important what glass you use to serve cocktails? What is the difference between a martini and a coupe? This guide to cocktail glasses will show you how to use each style of bar glassware. The majority of cocktail glassware falls under one of these three categories: tumblers, stemmed glassware, or specialty drinkware.


Tumblers can be described as stemless cups. They can be made in many sizes and shapes. They are usually large enough to hold ice.

Highballs – These tall glasses can be used for drinks with more mixers than alcohol. They are tall and narrow and don’t flare out. Straight sides of glassware help to keep the carbonation in check for longer.

Nicknames: Collins Glass, Tumblers, Chimney Glass

Ideal for: Rum and Coke, Gin and Tonic and Tom Collins

Lowballs – These are short drinks with more liquor than mixers. These highball glasses can be used to display large ice cubes and spheres. You can use larger lowballs to stir or mix drinks in the glass.

Nicknames: Single Rocks and Double Rocks, Old Fashioned Glass

Ideal for: Drinks neat (shot of Bourbon), Spirits on rocks, Old Fashioned Cocktails, Stirred Cocktails and Shaken Cocktails

Tumblers – These tall glasses can be used for drinks with more mixers than alcohol. They are tall and narrow and don’t flare out. Straight sides of glassware help to keep the carbonation in check for longer.

Perfect for: Bloody Mary, Mojito, Margaritas

Tall shot glass – This is traditionally used to pour limoncello or liqueurs in small quantities. These glasses are used to make layered shots and larger shots. The tall shot glasses, also known as shooters, look taller and thinner than the regular shot glass.

Nicknames: Shooters

Perfect for: B52, Irish Flag, Pineapple upside-down Cake, and B-52

Shot glass – Small, 1-2 oz glass with a thick bottom. The thick bottom prevents the small glass from tipping and helps to keep it from shattering when it hits the table. Use it for one shot of liquor or small, layered shots.

Perfect for: Tequila shots, Alabama Slammers, Kamikaze

Stemmed Glassware

The stemmed glassware features a bowl at its top and a stem at the bottom. This design allows for a safe place to store the glass and does not affect the drink temperature. Stemmed Glassware can be used to make spirit-forward cocktails without ice.

Martini – A wide cone-shaped vessel with straight lips. A wider mouth and straight lips encourage faster drinking. The large surface area allows for the release of the cocktail’s aroma. Your drink will spill easily if your lips are straight.

Ideal for: Martini Cosmopolitan, Negroni

Coupe – These glasses have a curved lip that encourages slower drinking and more frequent sipping. It is also more difficult for your drink to drip out when you are holding it and moving it.

Perfect for: Craft cocktails, Daiquiri, Egg-white Foam Cocktails

Nick & Nora – A martini-style coupe with tall walls, a wipe opening, and a straight lip. Nick & Nora’s glasses have a smaller size and are designed to be more spirit-forward.

Ideal for: Manhattan, Sours drinks, Rob Roy

Margarita – A large rimmed glass that is typically larger than martini glasses. This is a great place to add salt or sugar, which is an essential ingredient in cocktails such as the margarita. This large size is ideal for freezing and on-the-rocks cocktails.

Perfect for: Margarita (Frozen and On-the-Rocks), Pina Colada, Frozen Drinks

Champagne Flute – The flute’s tall, slim sides keep your drink carbonated and bubbly. Great for Champagne too!

Perfect for: Mimosa, French 75, Sparkling Drinks

Semi-Stemmed Glassware

This section of stemmed glassware is not typical. The stem is shorter than the traditional long stem and encourages the drinker hold the bowl of glass in their hands. These semi-stemmed cocktail glasses are large enough to hold more ice so that your drink doesn’t get too warm. Semi-stemmed glasses, especially snifter-shaped ones, are designed to warm the spirit and release its aromas and flavors.

Hurricane – A tall, large glass that can hold a lot of juice, ice, or frozen blended drinks.

Perfect for: Pina Colada, Hurricane, Tropical & Tiki Drinks

Gin and Tonic – This large bowl can hold plenty of ice, which will keep your tall drinks chilled. You can release aromas as you drink and there is ample space to place garnishes.

Ideal for: Gin & Tonics, Bee’s Knees, and Bramble

Snifter – Although you can use this glass for single spirits, its large bowl shape is often used to make tropical and tiki cocktails. It is usually filled with ice.

Ideal for: Shark Bite, Pain Killer, Sidewinder’s Fang

Cognac Glass – This large, bowl-shaped glass can be placed in your palm. This allows you to heat the spirit up and release aromas. This glass contains only a few ounces of top-shelf liquor. You can swirl the spirit and not spill it. You can put your nose into the glass to smell the spirit because of its large volume.

Brandy, Bourbon, Rye, and Aged Rum are all great options

Snifter-like, but smaller. Because the glass is narrower, the alcohol smell escapes from the glass and you can still detect other aromas.

Ideal for: Tequila, Scotch, Bourbon, Rye and Aged Rum

Other specialty drinkware

These vessels can be used to make special cocktails and for other occasions. These are not the only popular types you will find.

Copper Mugs – The traditional vessel used to make the Moscow Mule (and other mule beverages!)

Mint Julep Cup is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. It is served in a stainless-steel vessel. Even on hot summer days, the metal keeps the drink cool and refreshing.

Hot Mug – A thick-walled, glass mug with handles. Hot cocktails like the Hot Toddy or Irish Coffee can be enjoyed in this mug.

Tiki Mug – This vessel is similar to a high-ball glasses, and it’s meant to be filled full of plenty of ice in order to chill or dilute strong tropical cocktails.

Punch Bowls & Glasses – The centerpiece of any party is the crystal punch bowl. Punches are delicious and historical. They are an easy way to make a great cocktail for a large crowd.

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