The Best Kind of Barware for Every Possible Situation

The Best Kind of Barware for Every Possible Situation

It's time to stop drinking Malbec from a coffee mug!

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:

Angled Crystal Burgundy Glasses
This beautiful pair of angled wine glasses will enhance your finest vintages. Crafted with full-bodied red wines in mind, this gorgeous glassware set is equally suited for crisp white wines.

A Scandi-designed white wine glass with delicate gold lines:

HAY Colour Glass Gold Lines White Wine Glass
Defined by the dainty gold lines, the wine glasses from HAY provides a minimalist expression, modern design, and wonderful craftsmanship.

A stemless glass with an organic-feeling groove for your fingers, ensuring the contents stay securely in your hand instead of on the rug:

Govino White Wine Glass Set
These outdoor cocktail glasses have a handy thumb hold and a contoured base for a nice secure grip. And when the party’s over, simply pop them in the top rack of your dishwasher to help them keep their shine.

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: 

Delancy Champagne Flute
Our artful Delancy Champagne Flutes make any occasion a memorable celebration. Organic in form, each sleek yet sturdy 8 oz. flute is hand crafted from thick recycled glass, giving each its own unique charm.

Going low… 

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:

Grid Double Old Fashioned Whiskey Glasses
A beautiful grid pattern is etched into the surface of lead-free crystal glasses ideal for serving up tastes of your favorite whiskey at your next dinner party.

These have big "enjoying a Campari on the rocks after an afternoon Vespa ride around Rome’s most iconic locations" vibes:

Arcade Glassware Set
Inspired by the storied arches of the Colosseum, our gold-accented Arcade glassware reimagines an iconic architectural motif in moody curves and colors. A bold addition to any cocktail hour or table setting.

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:

“Clipper Club” 1950 Pan Am Membership Lounge Rocks Glass
Mid-1950s whiskey/rocks glasses, designed for exclusive airport membership lounges. Super-utilitarian, multi-faceted glass; heavy bottom is balanced and sturdy in the hand. Versatile for cocktails with ice, including Old-Fashioneds and Manhattans on the rocks.

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:

Libbey Cut Cocktails Tumbler Glasses
Inspired by Art Deco influences, the Structure Tumbler Glasses from the Libbey Cut Cocktails collection serve up a modern twist on classic style. Clean-cut lines make this versatile 4-piece glass set perfect for an elegant evening or everyday use. The tumblers measure 6.25 inches tall and 3.

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:

Eight Vintage “Goren Point System” Bridge Themed Highball Glasses
Eight Mid-Century Modern highball glasses in 22k gold and black and white enamel, each with alternating gold and black panels with the "Goren Point System" for bridge in black or white text. Charles H. Goren was an American bridge player and writer and a leading bridge personality in the 1950s...

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:

Estelle Colored Martini Glasses - Set of 2
Estelle Martini Glasses add a cosmopolitan edge to cocktails while entertaining at home. Made by glass artisans in Poland Set of 2, 7.25 inches tall x 4.5 inches wide.  ...

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:

Regalia Deco Brandy Snifter
Brandy snifter is made of glass. Holds approx. 15 oz. Made in Italy.

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):

Moscow Mule Mug - Graphite
Perfect for serving the 1950s classic cocktail of lime juice, vodka, ginger beer and plenty of ice, or for any cold drink, our Moscow Mule mugs have an oversized curved handle for a firm grip that won't let your hand get cold.

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:

Cheers Set of 6 Shot Glasses
This Cheers Set of 6 Shot Glasses features playful designs to enliven any gathering. Each glass in the set of 6 is precision-etched with a different yet coordinating design.

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.

Jancis Robinson Wine Glasses, Set of 2
Use these glasses for every wine, whatever its color, or any other beverage you want to enjoy to the fullest. Dimensions: 8.8"H x 3.5" diameter. ...

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:

Mid-Century Modern Champagne Coupe
This mid-century modern coupe was inspired by designs seen in the early 1960s. The elegant shape of this glassware will elevate your mixology skills and make a statement when hosting an evening of drinks with friends and family.


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