As a bartender, it's essential to serve drinks in the correct glassware. The whole essence and experience of a drink is in the quality and style of the glass it's served in.
Would a nice cognac really be the same in a highball glass as opposed to a snifter?
Would a glass of wine really be the same in a rocks glass?
Would that sexy cocktail really be the same in a pint glass as opposed to a frosty, chilled cocktail glass?
Glassware isn't just designed for the look and feel of a drink either. There's often a beneficial purpose behind the design. For example, the slim, tapered neck of a champagne flute is designed to prevent the bubbles in the champagne from escaping. Also, the wider bowl of a red wine glass is designed to let the wine breathe.
Now I'm not going to list every shape and style of glassware in the universe. I'm going to focus on basic, ESSENTIAL glassware you'll be expected to use and be familiar with as a bartender. I want to help you succeed, not intimidate you with dozens of different glasses out there.
Remember also that good-quality, sparkling clean glasses make a huge difference to the customer. Drinking is a ritual and all aspects of the ritual should be perfect, so glassware is something you should take very seriously.
Ready? Let's go...
1 – 2 oz.
You'll have more of these break on any given night than any other glass. The kind of people pounding shots back will naturally slam them down on the bar, which often chips and even shatters them.
The most common are 1 oz. or 2 oz. shot glasses. Shot glasses are used for any shot or shooter. From a flaming shot of Bacardi 151 to a layered B-52 shooter.
Shooters with juice in them, like a Broken Down Golf Cart, should go into a 2 oz. shot glass so that the customer gets their 1 oz. of booze in the shot.
Used as a measuring tool as well, shot glasses are a must have in every bar.
Rocks Glass (Old Fashioned)
4 - 9 oz.
Known as a rocks glass because it's used to serve many drinks with ice in them. The rocks glass is used for serving any built, single cocktail on-the-rocks.
When you'd use this glass:
- if a customer asks for their drink "short", this is what you'd use.
- for a "scotch on the rocks".
- for a "vodka martini on the rocks".
- for a Black Russian
- for a Gin & Tonic
You get the idea. J
8 - 12 oz.
A "highball" is any drink that mixes alcohol and a mixer. i.e. vodka cranberry, rum & coke, gin & tonic, whiskey seven etc. Thus, the highball glass was developed to accommodate these types of drinks.
While "highballs" can just as easily be mixed into a rocks glass, it all depends on what the policy is where you work, as well as the volume of the glass. I will use highballs for ‘doubles' and rocks glasses for "singles". I'd rather give the customer a little less mixer on the "single" which is why I use a rocks glass in that situation.
Highballs are by far your most versatile glass.
4 - 6 oz.
This glass has true presence. You can take a simple cocktail, like a screwdriver, and shake it with ice, pour it into a frosty cocktail glass, add a nice garnish and voila! You've got a very sexy cocktail!
Any martini must go into this glass unless requested otherwise. Only shaken drinks will go into this glass as well, you'll never build a cocktail into this glass, that would be very low-class.
Also, because of its 'V' shape, having ice in this glass is very awkward because it will keep hitting your teeth when trying to drink the concoction. Never add ice to a cocktail in this glass, unless a customer requests it, which does happen occasionally.
Despite the often large size of the brandy snifter, don't pour more than a couple of ounces of brandy into one. The short stemmed bowl design is meant to be cupped to allow you to use your hand to warm the brandy.
Also, 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.
For some, there's nothing better than a frothy, big headed mug of beer to satisfy one's craving. Not every bar has mugs but your bar should have some type of glass designated for beer.
There are so many types and styles out there. In Belgium for example, each beer has it's own signature glass!
Generally beer glasses are very thick and sturdy compared to other glasses.
Now you're a little more familiar with the necessary glassware that every bar should have.
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