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Bar Glassware Buying Guide
If you own or operate a restaurant or bar, at some point, you’ll be considering and purchasing glassware. But what are the different types of bar glassware and what are they used for? Does it really matter if drinks are served in specific glasses?
The best way to stock your bar with the appropriate glassware is to first consider which drinks your establishment will serve. Does your restaurant or bar serve a wide range of beer or do you have mostly mixed cocktails and wines? Next, think about how much space you have for storing glassware. If space is limited, perhaps stackable glasses that can be used for serving more than one style of drink are the best choice.
Below, we’ve included information about what types of drinks should be served in the different glasses and why, including recommended brands, so you can consider which glasses your bar must have and which you can do without.
Wine and Champagne Glasses
White wine glasses: White wine glasses are made with taller, narrower bowls than red wine glasses to lessen the aeration and preserve the finer, more delicate flavors. More than likely, you’ll find white wine glasses with stems because holding the wine glass by the bowl can warm the wine and alter the ideal serving temperature.
Red wine glasses: Red wine glasses are wider and rounder (as opposed to the taller, narrower white wine glasses) and can sometimes be stemless. Since red wines are typically fuller-bodied than white, the larger bowl allows your guests to swirl the wine, releasing the deeper aromas and promoting aeration. You can also find all-purpose wine glasses that can be used for either red or white—such as Libbey, Arc Cardinal, and Oneida—which can be useful for restaurants and bars looking to cut a few costs and stock glasses that are more versatile.
Champagne glasses: Champagne glasses are stemmed for the same reason white wine glasses are—so your hands won’t warm the chilled champagne. You will find them in coupe- or flute-shaped styles. Coupe champagne glasses have larger widths so your guests can enjoy the more fragrant champagnes, while the slender, flute-shaped glasses provide less room for bubbles to surface, preserving the carbonation longer. For this reason, flute-shaped champagne glasses are also used for sparkling wines and Proseccos, among other carbonated spirits.
Decanters: Decanters, or decorative glass bottles used to serve wine, are often used to supply your guests with a readily available second pour or for presentation purposes while allowing older wines to separate from sediment. Stylish and beautiful, like those made by Libbey or Steelite International, decanters also help aerate or oxidize the wine, which can improve the flavor and aroma.
Beer mugs: Beer mugs, also known by some as steins or tankards, are cylindrical glasses with handles that are typically manufactured with thicker, heavier glass so they can keep beer colder longer and withstand thorough washing/handling. The shape also helps create and retain the foam. They can also be made with shatterproof polycarbonate material, like those manufactured by Carlisle, and also come in a range of sizes.
Pint glasses: Usually shaped like a tall inverted cone, pint glasses are narrower at the bottom and slighter wider at the top, which is an ideal shape for beers that pack a heavier aromatic punch. There is usually no handle on these glasses, though, so they do subject the beer to warming more easily than a handled mug, but they’re also typically made with thicker glass and are ideal for stacking. Pint glasses are used for serving a wide range of beers, such as lagers, stouts, and porters, and are also easy to clean.
Pilsner glasses: Although they’re taller than pint glasses, pilsner glasses hold less beer as they are thinner, though they have a similar conical shape. These beer glasses, like those made by Arc Cardinal and Steelite International, are traditionally used for lighter beers so the carbonation and coloring can be seen while the slightly larger top holds foam. If your restaurant or bar is looking for an elegant way to serve up some ale, these sleeker, more elongated beer glasses can be ideal.
Highball glasses: Highball glasses are versatile tumblers often used for serving tall mixed drinks or cocktails that use more “mixer” than alcohol, like mojitos or Bloody Marys. They’re generally taller than old fashioned glasses and wider and shorter than Collins glasses, though they’re often used interchangeably. Highball glasses can also be used to serve water, tea, and other nonalcoholic beverages, so they’re generally more versatile (like those made by Libbey and Oneida).
Collins glasses: Collins glasses, also known as chimney glasses because of their straight, cylindrical shape, are another type of tumbler that are taller and thinner than highball glasses. They are commonly used to serve gin and tonic, Long Island iced tea, and Tom Collins.
Hurricane glasses: Originating in New Orleans, the hurricane glass is a tall, hour-glass shaped glass often used for serving piña colada and Blue Hawaiian drinks, among other brightly colored cocktails. The wider opening at the top allows for lots of ice and larger, more decorative garnishes. Smaller versions of the hurricane glass, called cyclone glasses, are often used to make similar cocktails that have a larger concentration of alcohol.
Margarita glasses: Margarita glasses, known for serving this signature combination of triple sec, lime juice, and tequila, are in the familiar large-rim tapering of into a small well in the bottom. The large opening lends a larger surface area for salt, sugar, and other garnishes. Margarita glasses can also be made without the well in the center, resembling a larger coupe-shaped glass and are often sold at different price points, like those made by Arc Cardinal and Libbey.
Martini glasses: Martini glasses are inverted cone- or v-shaped glasses that stand atop a longer stem. They’re used to serve martinis, which are traditionally made with gin and vermouth (although they can also be made with vodka), and other mixed, chilled drinks like Manhattans, gimlets, and cosmopolitans. Like other wide-rimmed glasses, the martini or cocktail glass allows for the taster to enjoy the fragrance of the cocktail, while the stem helps to avoid any warming from holding the vessel with your hands.
Old fashioned glasses: Also known as lowball glasses, old fashioned glasses are shorter tumblers used for serving stronger spirits in smaller quantities, such as whiskey (with or without ice), or drinks that have a lot of flavor or sugar. Expertly manufactured by reputable brands like Oneida and Libbey, among others, these glasses typically have a wider brim for muddling and mixing or adding garnishes and ice and can be used to serve nonalcoholic drinks as well.
Brandy snifters: Brandy snifters look like short wine glasses and are wider at the bottom, tapering to a smaller opening toward the top with a short stem. They are held in the palm of the hand and have the wider base so the spirit being served, often brandy bourbon, can be swirled in the glass. The narrow opening contains the drink’s aroma so it can be savored with flavor as well as scent. Snifters are also sometimes used for serving fragrant beers with larger alcohol contents that require smaller pours.
Cordial glasses: Cordial glasses are used to serve pricier after-dinner liqueurs, and sometimes even sweet, sparkling beverages or wines. They often look like small wine glasses and come in a variety of sizes (normally two to three ounces) and styles, but they’re usually stemmed.
Shot glasses: A must in any bar, shot glasses are used for both measuring and serving alcohol. Shot glasses are mostly used for serving stronger spirits, especially if being consumed in one swallow. They’re small, flat-bottomed glasses that are easily washable and stackable, and they typically measure one to two ounces, although sometimes they can measure three. You can typically find these at any bar glass manufacturer or supply store, as they are widely used in the drink-making and foodservice industry.
Irish coffee glasses: Used to serve hot or warm beverages or dessert coffees, Irish coffee mugs often look like elongated coffee mugs with a short stem and wide base. They are usually clear so you can see the layers of coffee and whipped cream, or any other types of ingredient layers your drinks might have. They can be used to serve alcoholic hot chocolate, ciders, and other types of dessert coffees and warm drinks.
How BHS Foodservice Solutions can help
BHS Foodservice Solutions has a large selection of durable, service-ready drinkware in stock and ready to ship. With high-quality stemware and glasses for serving wine, liquor, beer, and cocktails made by reputable brands like Libbey, Arc Cardinal, and World Tableware, it’s easier than ever to find all your restaurant bar’s commercial drinkware in one place.
If you have any questions, contact us, and one of our knowledgeable customer service representatives will help you find the supplies your restaurant needs to provide superior drink services for your guests.