👉🏼 AVAILABLE NOW: Essential Cocktail Formulas 👈🏼

Cocktail Glass Class—the Basics for General Cocktailing


If you’re among the hedonists out there, you know that glassware tends to be an underrated part of the drinking experience. The weight, height, shape, texture, delicacy or sturdiness of a glass, all influence your perception of what is actually inside the vessel.

But there are also practical reasons why certain drinks are served in specific cocktail glasses.

For example, did you know that sparkling wine was originally served in a coupe?

It’s true. You get more of the aromas and complexities from the wine that way. (And obviously, you can make those overindulgent champagne towers with ’em…)

But what do you lose faster? The effervescence. There is a method to the glassware madness!

Considering how many shapes and sizes of cocktail glasses exist out there, how do you know which ones you really need for your collection?

Bar Glass Collection: The 2 Schools of Thought

While utility is important for day-to-day stuff, there is something special about getting a cocktail in a glass that looks as if it was born to hold your Boulevardier.


Neat and tidy, matching sets all lined in perfectly. Everyone gets the same experience. This makes pouring perfect wash lines easy as the liquid volume is predictable and consistent.

Wash Line: the level on the glass where the finished cocktail pour reaches. (Ideally, unless it is a sour with egg whites or something similar where you want a perfect meniscus…you should leave about a centimetre to prevent spillage.)

cocktail glasses on shelves


Related:  The Hidden Benefits of Cocktail Making Classes

Funky, eclectic pieces from all over that have different styles, colors and random shapes. Every time you mix it is a chance for a new adventure!
Pro tip: You don’t need to rack up a bunch of debt for this! Consignment and thrift are absolute home runs for vintage glassware, including Waterford crystal! (😆 Drunk thrifting, anyone?)

Here’s an article on checking for quality in used glassware.

The Cocktail Glasses You Actually Need

rocks glass

Rocks/Tumbler/Old Fashioned

The workhorse; sturdy and ergonomic. Ideal size around 9→11oz

Use for Negronis, Boulevardiers, Whisky Sours, Margaritas, Old Fashioneds, etc. Also great for just serving neat pours of whisky or other spirits.

collins cocktail glass

Tall Highball or Collins

Vertically endowed. This style keeps bubbles tight together for drinks that contain a fizzy element, or “long” cocktails that contain a fair amount of mixer that can be enjoyed with a straw. Ideal size 12→16oz.

Think Tom Collins (its namesake), Dark & Stormy, Paloma, Bloody Mary, Pimm’s Cup, etc.

large coupe cocktail glass

Large Cocktail Coupe

Ideal size 6→9oz. When you have shaken cocktails that are served neat but have a large quantity of juice, liqueurs, egg whites, etc.

Think Espresso Martini, Cosmo, Clover Club, Blood and Sand, etc.

small coupe cocktail glass

Small Cocktail Coupe

Ideal size 4→6oz. This is the must-have if you like short, strong cocktails that are enjoyed with elegance.

Think Martini, Manhattan, Toronto, Hanky Panky. Or even drinks that have a small citrus element like a Daiquiri, or Sidecar.

Extra Curricular Glasses for a more advanced setup

variety of cocktail glasses

May the thrifting glassware gods be with you.

Nathan Caudle

Nathan Caudle

Let us know what you think!

Welcome to the Nimble Bar Co

The Nimble Bartending School is the premier training for those who want to be masters of the craft and develop a powerful skill-set. Find out more.

The Cocktail Guide: The 50 Essential Classics Modern Bartenders Must Know

The Cocktail Guide

Awaken the inner bartender within with this tightly-curated Cocktail Guide featuring recipes that we’ve battle-tested ourselves. Follow our templates to make these drinks perfectly every time.

Mastery Begins With the Basics

The Five Classic Cocktails

While bartending is about so much more than just the drinks, a professional takes the time to master the basics. In The Five you’ll learn cocktail DNA, the 5 most important classic cocktails, and how you can come up with your own creations on the fly.

Learn About The Skills of the Gig Economy

Most Valuable Skills

The skills of a great bartender are highly in-demand across industries. Get this free guide to learn more.

Recent Posts

Nimble Bag of Bartending Tricks

Want to up your bartending game?

Get free tips, recipes, and strategies designed to make you a better bartender. 👇🏽

Download The Five: A Short Guide to Master the Basics

The Five Download
  • The DNA that influence 99% of cocktails
  • How to make The Five most important classic cocktails better than most bars
  • The building blocks for creating your own custom cocktails