How to choose the right cocktail glass

How to pick the right cocktail glass
Knowing the right cocktail glass for a cocktail could come in handy one day!

Let Kitchen Geekery teach you how to choose the right cocktail glass for any cocktail.

If you are a big fan of cocktails, you will know that higher-end bars serve every cocktail drink in the perfect shaped glass. Cocktail glasses differ hugely in shape and size which has a big influence on the cocktails taste and presentation. A Martini just isn’t a proper Martini if served in a highball glass, is it?

Some glassware was created specifically for the serving of a particular cocktail; these glasses can enhance the taste, give the drink room to breathe, keep them cool for longer, or even preserve the fizz of the bubbles.

How many types of cocktail glass are there? How do I pick the right cocktail glass?

The short answer is, there are many types of glasses – probably too many for the average cocktail lover’s home.

To maximise the enjoyment of a well-made cocktail (and also to impress your friends, family or partner) we have created this round-up of the most popular and most useful cocktail glasses to own.

So here goes!

Red Wine/Cabernet Glass

The traditional Cabernet-style glass is often used as the universal red wine glass. The Cabernet glass is noted for its large bowl that gives the wine a chance to breathe. This oxidation with the air hones the subtle flavours of the wine, allowing the wine to release its natural aroma.

A popular cocktail which is served in Cabernet glass is one of Spain’s most famous drinks – the Sangria.

Cabernet glass
A Sangria is served in a Cabernet glass

White Wine Glass

A white wine glass has a narrow bowl with a narrow opening this helps keep the drink chilled longer. It is also said, that the drink reaches the centre of the tongue quicker which highlights the flavour whilst reducing any acidic notes.

A popular cocktail served in a white wine glass is the Aperol Spritz.

A white wine glass
An Aperol Spritz served in a white wine glass

Flute/Champagne Glass

The Flute glass is also known as a Champagne glass. It has an even narrower bowl and a small mouth which is designed to preserve the bubbles of sparkling wine. These cold bubbles improve the taste and sensation of the drink on the palate.

The French 75, Kir, Kir Royale and Bellini cocktails should be served in a Flute glass.

Kir cocktail
The Kir Royale correctly served in a fluted glass

Martini Glass

The famous Martini glass is easily-recognised by its v-shaped bowl, long stem and circular base which prevent the holder from accidentally warming the cocktail during its consumption. The v-shape also keeps the ingredients (usually gin, vodka, or vermouth) together and provides plenty of space to adorn the drink with fruit (or picked onion!) garnish.

Martini glass is traditionally used for Martini cocktails, such as Mocha Martini, Vesper Martini (famously requested by James Bond), Vodka Martini, Espresso Martini, Porn Star Martini, Cherry Martini, French Martini, Dry Martini or the Gibson cocktail.

Vodka Martini
The famous Martini glass is not only used for Martini drinks!

Coupe Glass

The Coupe glass has a long stem and broad, shallow bowl. Again, this longer glass prevents the drinker from warming the drink. The Coupe glass is used mainly for cocktails that have been shaken (or stirred!) vigorously until well-chilled as usually, these drinks permit no ice in the glass itself.

The Coupe glass was initially designed to serve champagne and was actually known as the Champagne Coupe glass or Champagne saucer.

Today bartenders use the Coupe glass for many other cocktails too, such as the Brandy Manhattan, Old Cuban, Southside, the Monkey Gland, Naked and Famous or the Paper Plane cocktail.

Southside cocktail
The quiet sophistication of a Coupe glass – shown here with a Southside cocktail

Margarita Glass

The Margarita glass is a variant of the Coupe glass with a longer stem, a broad, shallow upper bowl and a stepped lower bowl which adds a little interest to the drink.

The Margarita glass is used only for the Margarita cocktail family; like the classic Margarita or the Frozen Strawberry Margarita.

Margarita cocktail
The two-tiered Margarita glass adds interest.

Hurricane Glass

The Hurricane glass is a larger, curvy glass with a stemmed base. Its famous hourglass shape is used to serve some even more famous cocktails like the Pina Colada, Hurricane, Blue Hawaii or the Singapore Sling.

Hurricane cocktail
The flowing curves of a Hurricane glass

Old Fashioned Glass

The Old Fashioned, or rocks glass, also known as a lowball, is a short tumbler glass used for drinks that are mixed directly in the glass and served with ice (on the rocks).

The most common drinks served in the Old-Fashioned glass are Sazerac, Stinger, Negroni, Gin Sour, Godfather, and of course the Old Fashioned cocktail after which the glass was named.

Old Fashioned cocktail
An Old Fashioned (In an Old Fashioned glass!)

Highball Glass

The Highball glass is a tall tumbler glass that contains between 240-350 ml. The Highball glass is usually used for the mixed drinks served with large amount of non-alcohol liquid that is poured over ice. Best examples are Blue Lagoon, Screwdriver, Sea Breeze, Tequila Sunrise, and Salty Dog cocktail.

Collins Glass

The Collins glass is cylindrical in shape and very similar to Highball glass. However, it is narrower and taller and normally contains 300-410 ml.

It was named after the Tom Collins cocktail and is also used for serving the John Collins, Ramos gin fizz, and the Cherry Fizz cocktail.

Ramos gin fizz cocktail
The rather quirky looking Ramos Gin Fizz cocktail

Shot Glass

The Shot is a small glass designed to hold a single measure of liquor, usually up to 45ml. It can be used either as a drinking vessel or as a measuring cup. Shot glasses are typically made of thick glass with a strong base. The beverages served in Shot glasses are typically consumed quickly, in one gulp. The most common drinks requiring the Shot glass are Dou-Dou Vodka and B-52 shot.

A B-52 shot
A gorgeous B-52 shot

We hope this guide teaches you how to choose the right cocktail glass but if you have any more questions please ask us, or have a look through the frequently asked questions below.


What glasses do you use for cocktails?

We hope this handy guide answers all your questions about how to choose a cocktail glass, but generally if you are running short; a narrow glass for champagne or Prosecco based cocktails, an elegant Martini glass for any gin or vodka drinks served without ice – and a highball glass for everything else would probably get you by!

What is the difference between a cocktail glass and a martini glass?

A Martini glass has a larger bowl than a standard cocktail glass and the base is a full cone.

How big should a cocktail glass be?

Big enough to hold the drink! But on a more serious note, a typical cocktail glass is 90-300 ml or 3-10 fl. oz. Originally they were much smaller at around 120 ml or 4 fl. oz in size.

Is the martini glass named after the company?

Whilst it is not as certain as you may think, it is most likely the Martini glass is named after the Martini vermouth company.

Other rumours are that it was named after the Occidental Hotel, San Francisco where patrons would have a drink before travelling on towards Martinez.