Choosing the Right Glass for Your Liquor

A cocktail is best enjoyed in a glass that enhances its taste, smell and appearance. But before you grab any old glass, you’ll want the right glass to enhance the flavor experience each liquor has to offer.

Learn about each cocktail glass and what pairs with what in this useful guide.

Cocktail Glass Types


Coupe Glass

coupe glass

The coupe glass has a shallow, broad design that was specifically created to serve champagne in 17th century England. However, its designers failed in creating the coupe glass for its intended purpose. The large surface causes champagne to lose its carbonation too quickly.

Old Fashioned Glass

old fashioned glass

The Old Fashioned glass gets its name from its namesake cocktail: the Old Fashioned. The glass is designed with a thick bottom, which allows for muddling, and a wide top to release aroma.

When to use it:

  • Old Fashioned
  • Ordering whiskey neat or on the rocks
  • Any cocktail that is made in the same glass you’re serving in

Highball Glass

The highball glass is a tall, narrow glass that’s used for certain cocktails. The design is ideal for cold and carbonated drinks, such as the Highball or Gin Fizz.

When to use it:

  • Bloody Mary
  • Highballs
  • Tom Collins
  • Gin and Tonic

Any kind of fizz, collins, or highball

Shot Glass

how to choose the right glass for your liquor

The shot glass is your go-to glass for, you guessed it, a shot of your chosen spirit or cocktail. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

When to use it:

Anytime you’re going to toss back a drink in one swoop

Sour Glass

whiskey sour glass

The sour glass, also known as Delmonico glass, is used for sweet, citrus cocktails. Originally, when the Sour was created, it was served in an old-fashioned glass. However, there were issues with the cocktail fitting into the glass so the sour glass was created.

When to use it:

  • Whiskey Sour
  • Bourbon Sour
  • Aperol Sour
  • Sidecar

Absinthe Glass

absinthe glass

The absinthe glass is designed specifically for serving Absinthe. The glass has a reservoir in the stem to measure the appropriate amount of Absinthe for one serving. The wide top-half of the glass is for adding a sugar cube, if desired.

When to use it:

  • Serving Absinthe

Snifter Glass

snifter glass

The snifter glass is traditionally used for serving whiskey or brandy. The glass is large at the bottom and tapered at the top. This allows for the warmth of your hands to subtly change the flavor profile while trapping the aroma. The glass should be filled just enough to where if you tip it on its side the liquor won’t spill out.

When to use it:

  • When serving aged brown spirits

Cordial Glass

cordial glass

Cordial glasses are typically used to serve after-dinner liqueurs that are meant to be sipped.  These glasses look a little bit like a traditional wine glass but are smaller and thinner with more delicate glass.

When to use it:

  • When serving after-dinner liqueur of your choice

Martini Glass

martini glass

The martini glass is different from the traditional cocktail glass, because it has a larger bowl, allowing the flavors to breathe. If you want to make a vodka Martini, Manhattan, or Cosmopolitan, the martini glass is the correct choice for any one of these cocktails.  The long stem allows for the drink to stay chilled while holding the glass.

When to use it:

  • Martini
  • Manhattan
  • Cosmopolitan

Why Is It Important to Use The Proper Glass When Serving Certain Drinks?

You may be wondering why it matters what glass your cocktail comes in. The answer is enhanced aromas and correct temperature. These two factors are important in improving your drinking experience. Each glass is specifically designed to enhance the spirit that is served in it. For example, the Old Fashioned is served in an Old Fashioned glass because the warmth of your hands enhances the flavor profile of your whiskey. 

Best Glass for Vodka

Depending on your preference vodka can be served straight-up or used in a recipe for many popular cocktails. There are several glasses that will help enhance flavors, depending on which beverage you create.

For those of you who plan on drinking your vodka straight up. You will want to use a tumbler glass. A tumbler glass comes in multiple sizes and shapes.

Aside from the tumbler glass, you can use the following:

  • Martini glass
  • Shot glass
  • Highball glass
  • Coupe glass

Best Glass for Whiskey

To truly enjoy the taste of whiskey there are two types of glasses that you can drink from that will create specific flavors. The Glencairn glass is used to maximize the flavors of the whiskey. The concept originated from the traditional nosing glasses used by master blenders, borrowing the wide bowl to show off the color and help expose the aromas, this design of the Glencairn added a tapered mouth to allow for easier drinking.

Another glass used for whiskey and brandy is the snifter glass. It has a short stem which allows for one to cradle the glass, while keeping the drink warm. The large bowl provides a space for swirling the beverage while the shorter mouth traps the aromas for a prominent smell as you sip.

Aside from the glencairn and snifter glass, you can use the following:

  • Old fashioned glass
  • Shot glass
  • Cordial glass
  • Sour glass

Now that you know what glass pairs with what liquor, you are well on your way to becoming a skilled mixologist. Download our free mixology guide to enhance your skills.