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 Tending Bar: Glassware

It is essential to serve concoctions in the correct glassware. Good-quality, sparkling clean glasses and proper garnishes make a huge difference to the drinker. Drinking is, in large part, ritual, and all aspects of the ritual should be perfect. Although glassware is less critical in serving liquor than it is in serving wine, glass shape and size can enhance or detract from the experience of enjoying straight liquor or mixed drinks.

If you plan on running a home bar, highball, lowball, and cocktail glasses are almost essential. The highball glass is fine for any large mixed drink, while the lowball glass can be used for any smaller drink served with ice. It is essential to have cocktail glasses, as well. The flare and elegance of the cocktail glass is irreplacable, and it is also necessary to have a stemmed glass for cocktails which must be kept cold without being diluted by ice. Additionally, if you are planning on serving fine brandy or other spirits which benefit from their aroma, it is best to have a brandy snifter or other glass which captures the fragrance available.

All glass sizes given are approximate.  When using a glass of non-standard size to mix a drink, be sure to adjust measurements to fill the glass, when appropriate.


Highball Glass - 8 or 12 ounces
Although it's called a highball glass, highball glasses are often used to make more than just highballs.. A highball is any drink that mixes alcohol and a mixer. Scotch and soda, bourbon and water, gin and tonic - you get the idea. There are several shots that are served in highball glasses, as are some sours, collinses, juleps, and many other varieties of cocktails. Highball glasses are clear, simple, and will probably be the glasses that you use the most.

Lowball Glass (rocks glass) - 4 to 9 ounces
The lowball glass is also known as the rocks glass because it is used to serve many drinks with ice in them. The lowball glass is appropriate for serving any stirred cocktail on the rocks, and is clear to display the hues of your chilled concoction.  It has also lately become popular to serve many traditional highball drinks in lowball glasses.

Cocktail glass - 4 ounces
Since cocktails aren't served with ice, the shape of the cocktail glass is as functional as it is classic. By using the stem to hold your cocktail, you are able to hold the glass without warming its contents with your hands.

Shot Glass - 1 1/2 ounces
These tiny glasses are also called jiggers, and were once used primarily to measure the amount of alcohol to pour into a drink.  Although it has probably always been the custom for the occassional imbiber to have only a shot of alcohol, it wasn't until the 1970's that people started creating complex drinks in these tiny glasses.

Collins Glass - 10 to 14 ounces
Perfect for a Tom Collins, the Collins glass is also used for various fizzes and tropical drinks. The Collins glass is often frosted or pebbled with a smooth rim.

Old-fashioned glass - 4 or 7 ounces
Old-fashioned glasses are similar to lowball glasses, except for a bump at the base of the glass. Also available is the double old-fashioned, which also doubles as a shot glass for elephants.

The frugal bartender could easily substitute the old-fashioned glass for a lowball glass or vice-versa.

Martini glass - 4 ounces
Slightly different from the Cocktail Glass, the Martini Glass has a slightly less tapered bowl. Some martini drinkers prefer the martini glass, stating that it better displays and cradles the olives.

Sour glasses - 5 ounces
Similar to champagne flutes, sour glasses have a rounded cup and stem to make foamy sour drinks more appealing while also keeping your cold drink from the warmth of your hands.

Margarita glasses - 6 ounces
Margarita glasses have a unique double bowl.  The wide upper rim allows for the drink to have copious amounts of salt on the rim, while the smaller inner bowl increases the impact of a dash of grenadine or other liqueur added for color.

Sherry glasses - 3 ounces
Used for many dessert concoctions, Sherry glasses are the preferred glass for the presentation of aperitifs, ports, and sherry. The best sherry glass is the copita which features a narrow taper to enhance the wine's aroma. Alternatively, you may prefer smaller pony or cordial glasses.

Brandy snifter - 5 to 25 ounces
Despite the copious size of the brandy snifter, don't pour more than a couple of ounces of brandy into one. The bulbous cup is designed to allow you to use your hand to warm the brandy, while the cup shape wafts the aroma into your nose while drinking.  The size of the snifter will greatly influence the strength of the aroma, and unless you warm your brandy you will likely prefer to have a snifter smaller than 16 ounces.

Beer Mug - 12 ounces
Almost invincible, beer mugs can suffer an incredible amount of abuse and remain sturdy.

Pilsner - 10 ounces
The tall Pilsner provides an excellent and popular mechanism to elevate the social status of beer. If serving beer at a cocktail party, pilsners are recommended.

Pousse café glass - 4 ounces
This is a handy glass to have for Pousse cafés and other layered dessert drinks. The glass is very narrow to increase the surface tension and make it easier to pour a layered drink.

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