In this definitive guide, you will discover our selection of the best must-have glassware for liquor, spirits, and cocktails. We’ve ordered our top 15 recommended glassware from the most essential to least vital by prioritising versatile glassware:
- Tumbler: Marquis by Waterford
- Highball Collins: Marquis by Waterford
- Single Shot Glass: Bormioli Rocco Capitol
- Cocktail: Schott Zwiesel Basic Bar
- Tall Shot Glass: Lillian Rose
- Martini Glass: Lenox Tuscany Classics
- Coupe: Riedel Veritas
- Tasting: Peugeot Les Imitoyables N°5
- Tasting: Glencairn Whisky Glass
- Brandy Snifter: Waterford Lismore
- Cognac Tulip: Riedel Vinum Hennessy
- Eau-de-Vie: Schott Zwiesel Tritan
- Sherry Copita: Riedel Ouverture
- Nick & Nora: History Company
- Margarita Glass: Arc International
Simply use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read out entire detailed guide.
Best Glassware For Liquor & Cocktails
Professional mixologists and bars will have a vast selection of glassware at their disposal. However, at home our options are a little more limited. If you’re fond of drinking certain liquor or cocktails at home, it’s important to have a reliable variety of glassware that suits your needs.
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Whatever your preferred variety of beverages, the tumbler or “old-fashioned” glass is fundamental glassware in any home. Indeed, the tumbler is exceedingly versatile and it can be used for sipping your liquor neat, on the rocks, or even as a cocktail.
We’re particularly fond of Waterford Crystal but they can be somewhat pricey for smaller budgets. Nevertheless, their lead-free Italian-made Marquis range offers some of the best balance between quality and value for money.
"Whether you're looking to enjoy a whiskey on the rocks or an old-fashioned, Waterford's Marquis offers one of the most comfortable experiences on the market."
In the days of very diluted Scotch and Soda as enjoyed by Cary Grant in Indiscreet (1958), highballs and collins glasses were integral parts of any bar. However, contemporary trends have potentially rendered the highball far less crucial and somewhat rarer today.
Sometimes, the terms “highball” and “collins” are used interchangeably, yet there is a slight difference. The highball is somewhat stouter and holds on 10 Oz (295 ml) whereas the collins is taller and contains up to 14 Oz (410 ml) of liquid.
Nevertheless, they’re a worthwhile investment if you ever make cocktails for guests or yourself as they’re versatile for a variety of concoctions. If you are already considering the Marquis by Waterford Crystal tumblers above, we highly recommend completing the collection with matching collins!
While shots are often a bad idea when drinking at home, they’re sometimes the best choice when just looking to taste a nip of something strong. Similarly, they’re ideal for enjoying certain liquor with friends.
We’re particularly fond of the Italian-made Bormioli Rocco Capitol shot glasses for several reasons. Firstly, they’re designed with a heavy bottom that prevents spillage. Furthermore, they feature an inward curve, which allows for an ergonomic grip as well as swirling the drink inside the glass.
As they’re quite affordable and look particularly elegant, they’re a great addition to your domestic barware. We would perhaps only consider stemmed shot glasses as a refined alternative.
Featuring an intuitive design by the famous bartender and mixologist, Charles Schumann, is a hybrid of the coupe and the martini glass. Consequently, the Basic Bar cocktail glass is versatile for all your cocktail needs.
Therefore, it supercedes both the coupe and martini glass as it can cleverly fulfil both roles. Furthermore, these glasses are crafted using Schott Zwiesel’s patented train, which is a non-lead blend of titanium and zirconium oxide that resists chipping, breakage, and general wear.
Tall shot glasses allow for either an extra dose of liquid or potentially making a small cocktail. Indeed, they’re particularly versatile and have many uses in your home bar. While not crucial to your setup, they might be worth considering given that these ones by Lilian Rose are very cheap indeed!
No bar is complete without a classic martini glass! Despite the its colloquial name, it was designed for a variety of cocktails composed from mostly spirits and taste modifiers. Given that tumblers and highballs won’t fulfil the same function, they’re a necessary addition to your setup.
We’re chose Lenox Tuscany’s creation in particularly as it’s deeper vessel than most other martini glasses and features a slight curve. This not only reduces spillage by improving balance but allows for a little extra liquid. Additionally, you can buy it with either an attached or pulled stem, which is mostly an aesthetic choice.
Before we go any further, the coupe wasn’t modelled off Marie-Antoinette’s breasts nor Joséphine de Beauharnais, Madame de Pompadour or Helen of Troy! In fact, the coupe was designed by an English Benedictine monk in 1663 well before most of the women above were born or well after they died.
Although it is far from our favourite champagne glass, the coupe is an excellent option for a variety of cocktails and a great alternative to the martini glass. Thanks to its deeper shape, it holds higher quantities of liquid.
Riedel is a celebrated crystal manufacturer that has been operating for over three centuries. Their coupes are beautifully manufactured with a long, refined stem and deep, open bowl. Just be mindful that they’re delicate crystal and require careful use.
Finally, if you want to learn more about the best champagne glassware, head to our dedicated guide on the subject!
Despite its elaborate design, the N°5 from Peugeot’s Les Impitoyables series is an incredibly versatile glass. As you’ll read in our detailed review, we’re very fond of these French-made glass that was designed by the innovative Nicholas Brouillac.
Thanks to its intuitive design, it fits nicely in the hand while allowing the aromas to gather near tulip while the central dome reduces alcohol bloom. As a result, it can be used for enjoying a variety of spirits from cognac to whisky.
An alternative and probably better well-known vessel for tasting is the Glencairn whisky glass. Although designed specifically for Scotch whisky, the Glencairn was inspired by Spanish copita glasses during its conception.
As a result, it’s a very versatile glass that can be used for appreciating a variety of other spirits such as cognac and brandy. If you want to learn more, simply check out our guide to the best whisky glassware.
If you’re partial to other brandies besides cognac, it’s worth investing in a brandy snifter. These large vessels fit nicely in the hand and allow you to control the liquid’s temperature by holding the base of cupping the glass.
Additionally, they’re actually quite versatile and can be used as recipients for a number of creative cocktails. Although a premium option, Waterford’s Lismore range is made by hand from full-lead crystal. As a result, it’s a heavy and comfortable glass with elegant etching.
Note: The glassware that follows in this guide are speciality options for specific beverages and cocktails. While they aren’t as crucial for your home bar as the options above, serious enthusiasts may well want to consider them as legitimate additions.
Given that we have already listed two tasting glasses and a snifter, a cognac tulip is perhaps not an essential addition to your collection. However, if you’re a regular cognac drinker, you could argue that it’s mandatory!
This particular creation by Riedel is an authentic Sommeliers Cognac VSOP glass that was designed in partnership with experts from Hennessy. As a result, it offers one of the most comprehensive tasting experiences possible.
Although a somewhat obscure variety of glassware, the eau-de-vie tulip is a necessity for anyone who enjoys fruit brandy. For instance, both traditional grappa and schnaps glasses are quite similar in design. While there are indeed a few differences, it’s surprisingly hard to find true glasses for each individual beverage.
Similarly, traditional jenever tulips have a design reminiscent of the eau-de-vie glass. However, these are designed with a larger lip as the first sip is slurped when the glass is on the table. We’ve struggled to find these in the USA, so the eau-de-vie glass is currently the closest option available.
Nevertheless, Schott Zwiesel has produced one of the best options currently available, which covers all the bases for eau-de-vie and similar spirits. If you often enjoy celebrating your European heritage with a nip of schnaps or even slivovitz, it’s an authentic choice.
While not as necessary for your own barware given the versatility of either the Glencairn and Peugeot glasses, copita glasses are certainly worthwhile if you enjoy sherry of madiera.
Furthermore, the Riedel Ouverture can be happily used with a variety of dessert wines thanks to its refined tulip flute shape. Furthermore, it’s crafted from the brand’s renowned lead-free crystal.
Popularised by the 1934 film, The Thin Man, and its sequels, Nick & Nora glasses are named after William Powell and Myrna Loy’s characters. The six iconic movies are celebrated for their witty dialogue and cocktail culture significance.
Overall, the advantage of Nick & Nora glasses is how they perform as a smaller alternative to a cocktail or martini glass. Consequently, you can serve modest portions of your favourite cocktail in style.
True Nick & Nora glasses are somewhat hard to find. However, the History Company has produced authentic non-lead crystal replicas that offers both the style and their benefits.
Although a must-have for margarita drinkers, this specific glassware is certainly an optional addition. Indeed, a margarita can potentially be served in some of the cocktail glasses listed above.
Nevertheless, purists may insist that they have the proper glass for their preferred drink. Therefore, if it’s a regular libation in your household, Arc International’s American-made set of four is an affordable choice.
Before you start embarking on a buying spree, it’s essential to bear in mind both your needs and your available storage space. A well-configured home bar requires a curated selection of glassware that suits your everyday needs.
We would suggest leaning towards versatility as a general rule. However, if you’re a regular drinker of certain beverages that requires specific glassware, it may be worth including them.
Finally, we would also recommend buying sets that take guests into account but to refrain from bringing them all out. It’s always worth buying more than you need and keeping a few safely stored away in the attic.
Therefore, you’ll have some back-up if you experience any breakages, which is even more frustrating if the collection is discontinued. After all, no-one wants to have to buy a whole new set and be left with a few odd glasses from an old one!
Now that you have learned all about the best glassware for your home configuration, why don’t you check out some of our related spirit guides to build your reserves?