What could be sweeter than the sounds of cocktail hour? Ice clinks against glass, jazzy music pipes through speakers (or your phone), voices laugh in perfect harmony, each person delighting in the company, and the beverages in their cups, be it a perfectly dirty martini or a mocktail made with fresh fruit juice and aromatic herbs. The only note out of tune is the cups themselves—one of your guests is drinking their Aperol Spritz out of a pint glass you stole from a bar in your college town, and another is sipping bitters and soda out of a coffee mug.
Of course, you don’t need a curated collection of drinkware to make your next cocktail hour or dinner party a hit (and yes, it counts as cocktail hour or a dinner party even when you’re home alone). If you want one, though, it can take your entertaining game to the next level—nothing makes you look like you’ve got it together like serving champagne out of a sleek, mid-century modern-inspired coupe instead of a coffee cup (though really, we’ve all been there).
Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to replace hand-me-downs you’ve been drinking out of since three roommates ago, let us guide you towards drinkware that will make the hottest bar in town your very own living room.
A wine glass for every shade
Wine: it tastes good! But do we need different glasses to take that taste up a notch? Sommeliers generally say yes, for reasons that have to do with air and smell—basically, red wines, especially ones referred to as "full bodied," taste better when they breathe, and a wider glass exposes more of the wine to air. White wine doesn’t need as much oxygen to taste the way winemakers want them to taste, so it’s typically consumed out of narrower glasses. If you’re investing in wine glasses, we've got some suggestions.
This red wine glass uses angles to keep the bowl wide but keeps the overall effect architectural:
A Scandi-designed white wine glass with delicate gold lines:
A stemless glass with an organic-feeling groove for your fingers, ensuring the contents stay securely in your hand instead of on the rug:
If you’re the kind of host who will put a party together to celebrate the opening of an envelope, or you just really like the sound of corks popping, we’d go with these recycled-glass champagne flutes, which makes a sometimes-stuffy shape feel a little more organic:
A lowball glass—sometimes referred to as a rocks glass—is a utilitarian part of any drinkware collection, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also look for ones with style. You’ll want rocks glasses to be sturdy, since they’re often the chosen vessels for drinks with ice (the "rocks," if you will), like a gin and tonic or a whiskey on the rocks.
If your aesthetic is informed by the AP Geometry class you took in 11th grade, you might like these, softly rounded with an overly that looks like graph paper:
These have big "enjoying a Campari on the rocks after an afternoon Vespa ride around Rome’s most iconic locations" vibes:
If you’re really trying to do a Don Draper thing, you can’t go wrong with these, inspired by the first class drink ware used by airlines in the 1950s and ‘60s:
And going high…
A highball glass is also a great option for drinks that go over ice, with cocktails served in tall glasses usually having a larger quantity of juice, soda, or other non-alcoholic mixer: think a Pimm’s cup, a Tom Collins (these are coming back, by the way—you heard it here first!), or a mojito.
Libbey has been making barware since the early 19th century, so you know these highballs, with an etched, Art Deco-inspired motif, will never go out of style:
One of the best things about mid-century housewares is that they loved a novelty-print glass. Astrology? Tennis? Charts the eye doctor uses to determine your glasses prescription? All totally acceptable themes for glassware! Poke around on sites that specialize in vintage housewares and find a set that will double as a conversation piece when you run out of things to talk about, like the rules of bridge:
There are as many versions of the martini glass as there are versions of the martini, though they do seem to be thinking of new ones at a very rapid pace. If your sweet spot is something classic, with a twist, these fit the bill: The shape is traditional, and the color keeps it from feeling too serious:
Special glasses for special drinks
With unlimited cabinet space, you could probably assemble a collection of glasses meant to hold a wide variety of highly specific and vaguely obscure drinks. To be clear: I absolutely support that, but everyone has a limit! For those looking for more esoteric barware to supplement their collection and surprise and delight houseguests, I’d suggest two pieces: the brandy snifter and a metal mug.
Pretend to be an old-timey banker who sips after-dinner drinks like cognac, amaretto, or sambuca out of these green-and-gold beauties:
These sleek mugs can hold Moscow mules in the fall, cranberry punch in the winter, mint juleps in the spring, and a dark-and-stormy in the summer. (If the traditional copper feels too on-the-nose, the graphite version is an elegant substitute):
Maybe you don’t find yourself yelling "let’s take a shot!" to your friends these days—but maybe you should! A tart and sweet limoncello or an earthy liqueur will go down smooth when served out of these, mismatched-on-purpose but still clearly related:
The only two glasses you'll ever need
At the end of the day, these are the glasses that can do it all, and if you’re limited on cabinet space, it’s essential to look for pieces that you can reach for in almost any situation. For wine, something not too wide or too narrow will work for pretty much every grape, with these designed by a sommelier to compliment everything from Pinot Grigio to Cabernet Sauvignon.
A coupe makes whatever you put it in feel fancy, and you really can put almost anything in it—some suggestions include a martini with a twist, Prosecco, a Manhattan, or (and this might be my favorite) Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider:
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