Which Glass For Which Occasion? The Ultimate Types Of Glassware Guide


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I used to really struggle when it came to choosing the right types of glassware for different occasions.

I knew I had to get to grips with this – or I’d look like a fool when entertaining guests. I went through all the options, and now I know precisely what to use and when to use it!

As luck would have it, I’m feeling generous! So, check out my ultimate types of glassware guide:

Cocktail Glassware

Cocktail glasses are easy for you to spot as they have an iconic look to them. They kind of look like a cone attached to a thin glass stem, with a small base. Many people actually call this a Martini glass because it’s the most popular drink to have with this glassware. While there’s so much debate about the perfect way to drink a Martini, everyone agrees it needs to be in one of these glasses!

I’ve seen loads of different cocktail glass styles in my time. Some use frosted glass, some have funky painted designs – they’re really diverse.

Believe it or not, but the stem genuinely serves a purpose. I’m not kidding, it’s there to prevent your cocktail from getting too warm. If you hold the glass from the stem, then the heat from your hand doesn’t affect the temperature of the drink.

As you can imagine, cocktail glasses come in different sizes too. As a general rule, it’s good to stick to around 6 ounces in the sizing department. Any more, and you’re just getting a whole lot of glass with absolutely no benefits at all.

Cocktail Glasses Are Suitable For

  • Martinis (obviously!)
  • Any cocktail that’s up to 6 ounces in size – usually served without ice

Highball & Collins Glassware

Highball and Collins glasses are the same but different. They’re – visually – pretty different to tell apart, but there is an easy way to distinguish between the two.

With the Collins glasses, you have something tall and quite thin. It can hold up to around 16 ounces of drink, which is more than a Highball.

On the contrary, Highball is like the Collins slightly shorter and wider brother. Look at the two separately, and you’ll have a hard time knowing which is which. But when they’re next to one another, you see the Highball is definitely smaller and fatter!

Highball Glasses Are Suitable For

  • Bloody Mary
  • Zombie
  • Tall drinks

A range of vodka, gin, whiskey, and tequila highballs

Collins Glasses Are Suitable For

  • Tom Collins
  • Iced Tea
  • Soda or fruit juice

Rocks Glass

I’ve often heard this glassware called lowball or a short tumbler. It gets its name because the drinks in it are sometimes served ‘on the rocks.’ For me, it’s one of the go-to glasses for any drinks with ice in!

Visually, it’s basically a shrunken down version of a highball glass. They’ve got that little bit of width to them, but they’re way shorter. Traditionally, you only put drinks that are around 6 or so ounces in these.

I like this type of glassware because you get some beautiful and simple designs. While they all remain a similar size, you can play around with the glass style and pick one that suits your personal tastes!

Rocks Glasses Are Suitable For

  • White Russian
  • Old-Fashioned
  • Amaretto on the rocks

Shot Glass

We all know what a shot glass is. We’ve all spent many a morning regretting our decision to pick up a shot glass and guzzle down the contents!

They’re incredibly easy to distinguish from other types of glassware due to their size. A shot glass is small, with enough room to contain a 1.5-ounce shot.

Fun fact: shot glasses have thick glass at the bottom for an excellent reason. When most people throw back a shot, they slam the glass down on the table. So, the extra thickness is there to prevent the glass from smashing everywhere.

Stylewise, I adore shot glasses. You can really have fun with this type of glassware. They’re available in literally any shape or size you can think of. I’ve seen some styled to look like little shoes, Easter Island heads, and everything in between. Some have rounded sides, others are more straight and rectangular looking, then some are designed to replicate mini cocktail glasses.

If you’re looking to make a statement, then some funky shot glass could be a great choice. My only advice is to stock up! You’ll most likely need to use many glasses at once, and there’s always someone that breaks one.

Shot Glasses Are Suitable For

  • Vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila- literally any spirit that you want to drink straight.

The Margarita Glass

Margarita glasses are unique in that they have one purpose in life. Yep, you guessed it, they’re used to serve up delicious margaritas!

Now, you could technically serve a margarita in a cocktail glass. However, it’s better to stick to traditions and use this glass. It looks very different to cocktail glassware, with a distinct wide rim and intriguing design. The best description is that it looks like an upside-down sombrero hat with a stem and base below it.

One reason you should make margaritas separate from cocktails is that you add salt to the rim of the glass. So, you don’t want to end up with residual salt that might get into other drinks. If you’ve ever had a Margarita, you’ll know salt is non-negotiable. It’s there to offset the bitterness of the Cointreau used to make the drink. Without it, you won’t enjoy it half as much.

The size options are quite outrageous. I’ve got a small margarita glass at home that holds around 8 ounces, then I have one for special occasions that touches 20 ounces! The larger ones are mainly for show, but I’ve noticed they work really well with frozen drinks too.

Margarita Glasses Are Suitable For

  • Margaritas
  • Frozen margaritas

Champagne Glass

Champagne glasses give off some serious high-end vibes. Your guests will feel like they’ve been transported into a scene from The Great Gatsby! Some of you might confuse them for wine glasses, but they’re considerably different.

A traditional champagne glass has a lovely wide rim to it. Much like a margarita glass, this wide rim is used for salt or sugar. The actual body of the glass tends to be quite long – though I’ve seen some that are quite portly and wide.

Now, you can also get a champagne flute. I love the classiness to these, and highly recommend them for parties or celebrations. They feature a long thin glass with a narrow rim. Unfortunately, they mainly serve aesthetic uses. According to champagne experts, a flute will stifle the taste of the drink. It’s all to do with the way the narrowness allows bubbles to fizz up, then the taste just leaves the glass.

Speaking of interesting champagne glass designs, there is plenty to feast your eyes on. Away from the traditional, we have some mind-boggling efforts. New champagne glasses will start off with a narrow bottom, then widen out before narrowing again. Picture an American football shape, but someone has cut off one of the ends. The idea with these is to let the bubbles fizz without losing all the flavor.

Champagne Glasses Are Suitable For

  • Champagne
  • Margarita
  • Any type of champagne-based cocktails

Wine Glasses

Where on earth do I begin with wine glasses?

Easily the most diverse glassware out there, with a plethora of shapes and styles for you to buy. The critical thing to consider is what type of wine you’re drinking. There’s a specific style of glass for white, and there’s one for red too.

A white wine glass is mostly tall and slender. It’s not as thin as a champagne flute, but the walls are considerably narrower than a red wine glass.

A red wine glass has a much larger bowl than a white one. The bottom part is exceptionally wide in some, and the sides curve inwards for a narrow rim.

There’s some science behind the different wine glass shapes. Red wine has a much bolder flavor, so it needs a bigger glass for the aromas to drift around. As a result, you get to taste more of the actual wine flavor.

If you serve wine with dinner, then you need the right glass for your chosen bottle. The last thing you need is a massive faux pas as you serve red in a white wine glass!

One last point; white wine glasses can be used for cocktails too. My view is that cocktails that use ice will be best suited to this glass. The only reason is that the glass has more space for the drink to settle.

Wine Glasses Are Suitable For

  • All varieties of wine
  • Some cocktails

Beer Mugs

You all need an array of beer mugs and glasses if you ever plan on entertaining guests. Beer is a simple yet delicious drink that’s ideal for various scenarios. Watching sports with your friends? Hand out some beers. Settling down for a nice dinner on Friday night? Compliment it with a beer. Even if you’re out lounging on your decking, beer will be a welcome sight.

Beer mugs are big old glasses with a sturdy handle attached to them. They look a lot like old tankards that you see in historical programs. The handle offers convenience, while also ensuring your hands don’t make the beer too warm. The style variety is massive. As well as frosted beer mugs and different handles/bases, you get themed ones too. My dad once had a Simpson’s beer mug, there are Game of Thrones ones – you can get one that reflects your interests.

A mug offers a very thick head and is brilliant for most beers. But, you can buy other beer glasses to suit different beer styles.

The pilsner beer glass is one option of many. It starts with a narrow base, then balloons outward near the top. It’s far slimmer than a beer mug, and you use it for fizzy beers like Corona or Budweiser.

Goblet beer glasses are also fashionable. I love the bizarre shape to these – it’s hard to describe. The glass has a stem, then the main bit juts outwards at the bottom. From here, the walls go inwards at an angle. Then, there’s a little tapered lip at the top. The thought process behind this style is that it keeps a girthy head to the brew. Also, the angle of the walls allows the beer to flow better into your mouth. Usually, this is best for ales or strong IPAs.

These examples only really scratch the surface of beer glasses. Realistically, you can get special ones that suit specific beers. If you don’t want to stock your cabinets full of different beer glasses, then stick to a regular mug or pint glass. These two suits all beers, so you can’t go wrong at all!

For special events – or if you want to show off – then maybe whip out a few specialty beer glasses to keep your guests on their toes.

Beer Mugs Are Suitable For

  • Lager
  • Ale
  • IPA
  • Pilsner
  • Fruit beers
  • Ciders

Coffee Glassware

Choosing the perfect coffee glasses is tough. Mainly, you have to think about what drinks you’re serving. You’ll notice an abundance of styles to take a look at; from tall and thin latte glasses to small cappuccino cups.

My personal rule is to always get a coffee glass with a handle. When you serve hot drinks, then it stops you from burning your hand. With cold drinks, you don’t heat them up with your body temperature.

If you want to serve some coffee-based cocktails or mocktails, then a Venezia latte glass is perfect. It has a lovely thick handle, a solid base, and a rounded bottom with tall sides leading to a wide rim. The design screams class, which reflects perfectly on the drink inside. We all know that Irish coffees and coffee cocktails are the most elegant of all cocktails!

This type of coffee glass also doubles up as a regular latte glass for hot drinks. Iced coffees work well in it too, but a tall and thin latte glass is good for them also. For short drinks – like cappuccino or espresso – then opt for a much smaller glass mug.

Don’t assume you can only serve coffee drinks in these glasses! The design of a Venezia latte glass pairs wonderfully with exotic long cocktails too.

Coffee Glassware Is Suitable For

  • Irish coffee
  • Coffee cocktails
  • Iced coffee
  • Hot coffee
  • Pina Coladas

Glassware Tips & Tricks

I’ve shown you the different types of glassware, and what they’re suitable for, now it’s time for some advice. In this section, you’ll learn about purchasing, storing, and cleaning your different glasses.

Tips For Purchasing Glassware

Evidently, you have endless options when buying glasses. So many shops sell them, but here are my pro tips to get your hands on the best ones:

Match The Style Of Your Bar/Kitchen

I once made the mistake of buying loads of mismatched glassware for my kitchen. Individually, they all look great. The only issue was that they didn’t match each other – or the design of my kitchen. I was almost embarrassed to take them out and use them.

Don’t make the same mistake as me!

Ensure you buy glassware that matches your interior design. When you do this, they almost become ornamental.

Look At Vintage/Second Hand Glassware For Interesting Styles

Head to sites like eBay to find some old glassware. You’ll get a chance to see some unique and exciting styles, which might suit your vibe better than modern ones.

Don’t Buy Cheap

Lastly, don’t skimp on the costs when buying glasses. Cheap ones break easily, so you end up replacing them over and over again.

Tips For Storing Glassware

The way you store your glassware has a significant impact on its lifespan. These are my tips to ensure you keep yours in the best condition for as long as possible:

Don’t Store Glasses While Wet

Wet glasses lead to mold, which ruins the glasses – and the surfaces beneath them.

Store Glasses Upside Down

Doing this will prevent dust from getting inside your glasses. With that being said, it makes sense to give your glassware a good old dust every now and then.

Consider A Stylish Glass Rack

If you want to show off your glasses, then a unique glass rack will do the trick. It adds to your kitchen decor while freeing up some cabinet space!

Tips For Cleaning Glassware

So many people break or damage their expensive glassware by washing it incorrectly. To ensure you don’t do this, follow my tips:

Handwash Delicate Glassware

Don’t put thin and delicate glasses – like champagne flutes or wine glasses – in your dishwasher. There’s too much risk of them breaking, so wash by hand instead.

Rinse Thoroughly

You can never rinse a glass too much. If you leave the slightest bit of soap in the glass, then you end up with nasty soap spots.

Dry Upside Down

Keep your glasses upside down on a drying rack, so all the water falls out. Again, this stops any marks from appearing on your expensive glasses.


Thanks to this guide, you don’t have to make the same glassware errors as me. I made a fool of myself using white wine glasses to serve champagne, beer glasses to serve up cocktails; it was a mess!

The next time you entertain guests, make sure you have the right glasses for the right drinks. You’ll look like a more knowledgeable host, and it’s an excuse to show off your array of stylish glassware.

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