When I started with cocktails I was obviously aware I would be amassing a decent collection of spirits. What I didn’t know at the time was that I would also be building a huge collection of glassware. They go in hand in hand for obvious reasons.
Coupe. Coupes began their life as the original Champagne glass. After someone figured out a flute sustained carbonation better, the coupes were relegated to the world of cocktails. The majority of mixed drinks at good bars are now served in these glasses. Despite this, they are hardest to find. Whether or not you own coupes probably differentiates the serious from the casual (unless you’re really, really old and still have Champagne coupes lying around).
The key to the coupe is size. Be sure to own a variety in order to accommodate different cocktails. The Last Word, in volume, is very different from, say, a Seelbach and it’s not fun to figure this out as you’re pouring the drink. The venerable Tap Phong store in Toronto’s Chinatown now stocks basic coupes in two sizes. BYOB on Queen Street, however, has a great selection of antique coupes, albeit at much higher prices. I use my large stock of basic coupes when serving groups and the more delicate antiques when making drinks for myself and a few others. Venerable cocktail author David Embury insists coupes should be of the stemmed variety.
Old Fashioned (or Rocks or Lowball). As with the coupe, it’s important to have at least two, if not three, different sizes of this famous glass. I love the etched version, as well as the antique glasses I’ve collected. Once again, BYOB is a great destination for glassware. While their prices are higher than a flea market or antique store, the work has been done for you and there is much from which to choose at one location.
Collins (or Highball). This is probably the third most common cocktail glass for the drinks I make. I own two sizes to avoid serving drinks in a half full glass. I bought the small ones at Lee Valley and the larger version at Tap Phong in Toronto. They are widely available, however.
Cocktail or Martini. The only cocktails I serve in this glass are the Aviation, Martini and Gibson. I’ve heard that a Manhattan is supposed to be served in a cocktail glass but I can’t bring myself to do it. I own two different sizes in this glass as well.
Flute. The majority of cocktails calling for sparkling wine are served in flutes. I own a basic version I bought in bulk at Ikea.
Liqueur Glass. Once in a while I serve tiny cocktails in liqueur glasses. The Bitter Bike comes to mind but not much else.
Pewter Julep Cups. There is nothing quite like a freezing metal cup in your hand full of mint and ice and bourbon on a boiling hot day. They’re expensive but you might as well not bother with juleps until you have them. Keep in mind that the Mint Julep is only one of a large group of cocktails. The Pineapple, Absinthe and Cynar juleps are among my favourite summer cocktails.
Tiki Mug. If you don’t own Tiki mugs then don’t bother serving Zombies. And if you don’t serve Zombies in summer on your deck or patio then what kind of cocktail gadabout are you? BYOB stocks them and they can be ordered in sets from Amazon.
- Large Stemmed Sherry (Nick & Nora)
- Hurricane (for the fantastic cocktail of the same name, available at Tap Phong in Toronto)
- Chalice (especially handy for acting out scenes from The Nights of the Round Table)
- Pint Glass for Beer
- Pilsner Glass for Beer
- Red Wine
- White Wine
- Dessert Wine
- Shot Glass
- Copper Mug for the Moscow Mule (which is a crappy cocktail)