In the first part of this series, we discussed the design and function of the many kinds of wine glasses one might encounter at exclusive restaurants. While you are likely to see wine glasses in a fine dining situation, at a cocktail party any kind of glassware may be used, depending on what the guest is drinking.
Naturally, cocktail parties will offer wine from red to white to dessert to sparkling, so all of the stemware covered last time will be on display. Now, however, many other fun variations may be seen. Each different cocktail glass not only provides the ideal taste experience for its matching drink, but also embodies a signature “look” for the lady or gentleman holding that cocktail.
A “rocks” or “old fashioned” glass is perfect for aromatic spirits and liquors which you keep cool with ice. This is the classic cocktail glass. This is the glass you’d see in the hand of Don Draper as he unwinds at home after a day at Sterling Cooper. (The other hand would be holding a cigarette, of course.) A man or woman holding a rocks glass gives off an air of old school charm, a bit of throwback bite with his or her practiced savoir faire.
Thin like a champagne flute but the same diameter at the top as at the bottom, the Collins glass is perfect for drinks utilizing soda water for bubbles and ice to keep the drink cool as it’s held in one’s hand. The narrowness of this glass serves the same purpose as a flute for bubbly, as it minimizes the liquid’s exposure to air and thus keeps the drink fizzy for a longer period of time.
Highball glasses are similar to Collins glasses in height, but the former is used for more aromatic drinks than bubbly ones, and drinks in highball glasses usually incorporate a lot of ice compared even to a Tom Collins. This is the glass universally preferred for Bloody Marys and Zombies. (Why does a highball glass hold such “horror”? Discuss.)
Photo by EDE Online.
If a lady wants to impress her man of her alcohol bona fides, she can do no better than request that her whisky drink be served in a Glencairn whisky glass. Also known as a “dram glass,” the Glencairn was introduced in 2001 by a cabal of five master distilleries searching for the perfect glass from which one could enjoy whisky. Its unique design is reminiscent of a grappa glass, with a bulge at the bottom, but much wider are larger to accommodate the aroma of fine whisky. There are other glasses specifically designed for drinking whisky, but the Glencairn is the only glass used by every distillery in Scotland.
Those new to the more rarefied air of cocktail parties and exclusive pubs shouldn’t hesitate to ask their bartender or other mixing professional to demonstrate what glasses are used for what alcohol. Believe me, an attractive woman seeking some esoteric knowledge from her male barkeep makes a welcome addition during a shift that often seems repetitive and unglamorous. Requests (during slower periods) from an elegant lady for him to demonstrate some underappreciated area of his expertise will rarely be refused.
Once you develop an understanding of the different glasses used for cocktails, you can impress a date by asking for a custom drink and then telling your server or bartender what glass you’d like it in. Sophistication in drinking is like sophistication in wardrobe: It’s not strictly necessary, but it will be noticed—and much appreciated—by those with taste and class.