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A Guide To Bar Glassware

5 May 2020, 4:58 PM

A guide to bar glassware

From Martini to Balloon and Shot to Snifter, the world of bar glasses is a complex and mysterious one. There are almost as many glasses as there are drinks to put in them it seems. But with so many types of bar glassware available, it can be confusing for bar owners to choose the right glassware for their needs. So we have put together this guide to highlight the different types of barware available and the drinks they should be used for.

Types of Glass

Before we talk about the types of glassware available we should discuss the glass they are made from. This is important because not all glass is suitable for all types of glassware.

Soda-lime glass

Soda glass is inexpensive and known for its strength and durability. The glass does not break easily and is safe for the dishwasher. This makes it ideal for busy bars and restaurants that need a quick turnaround. However, soda glass is thicker than other types of glass and does not refract the light as brightly. This makes it less suitable for elegant glassware such as champagne flutes and wine glasses.

When To Use

Beer glasses, shot glasses, low-end cocktail glasses and tumblers.


Not as strong as soda glass but thinner and more elegant, crystal glass is typically used as standard tableware. The glass also contains 10% lead oxide which helps to make it sparkle, making this glass suitable for wine and high-end cocktail glasses.

When To Use

Red and white wine, speciality cocktail glasses, champagne flutes, snifters and tumblers.

Lead crystal

Lead crystal contains higher amounts of lead-oxide than standard crystal glass which allows it to sparkle more brightly. The glass can also be made thinner creating a more elegant and refined shape. It is not as durable as soda glass or crystal however, which means care needs to be taken to prevent breakages.

When To Use

Any fine dining, wine glasses, champagne flutes, snifters and tumblers.

Types of Wine Glasses

White wine

White wine glasses are thinner and taller than red wine glasses to help keep the wine cold. White wine should always be served chilled. The rim of the glass also tapers in to reduce oxidation, which helps to accentuate the wine's crisp flavours and keeps sparkling wine fizzing.

Red Wine

Red wine glasses have a stouter more bulbous shape than white wine glasses. The glass typically tappers at the rim but not as much as a white wine glass. This allows the wine to breathe and release the rich aromas which red wine drinkers adore. There are speciality red wine glasses available. Bordeaux glasses typically feature a tall bowl with a narrow rim, while Burgundy glasses are shorter and rounder to maximise aeration.

Champagne flute

Champagne flutes are tall and slim to reduce aeration and keep the wine fizzy for as long as possible. The narrow rim also helps direct the wine to the tip of the tongue where it can be savoured and enjoyed.

Sweet wine

Sweet/dessert wine glasses are short and narrow which helps to keep the wine aerated. This emphasises the acidity of the wine, thus preventing the sweetness from overwhelming the palette.

Types of Cocktail Glasses

Long cocktails

Sometimes known as the high-ball glass, the long cocktail is tall and narrow which makes it ideal for cocktails which contain lots of ice. This type of glass is also suitable for non-alcoholic drinks such as the Bloody Mary, club soda and iced tea.

Short cocktails

Perfect for drinks served “on the rocks”, short cocktails as their name would suggest are short and wide which allows room for the cocktail to mix thoroughly. The glass is typically small, between eight-to-ten ounces, so this is a good glass for cocktails with high alcohol levels.

Martini glass

The Martini glass needs no introduction. The tall stem with inverted V bowl has become synonymous with the stylish man and woman about town. The glass' unusual shape is designed to highlight the drinks rich aroma while keeping it nice and cool.

Balloon glass

The balloon glass has become popular over recent years with the rise of gin-based cocktails. The glass has a large bowl which helps to mix the flavours and release the rich aromas of mixed cocktails. The perfect glass for a gin and tonic with or without ice.

Margarita glass

Specifically designed for the cocktail of the same name, Margaritas have a short bowl with an extra-wide flared top which helps to combine the drink's zesty flavours at the top while the body is kept cold with crushed ice. The rim is also wide and flat allowing it to be covered in salt or sugar to offset the zesty flavour of Margarita cocktails.

Hurricane glass

With its round bowl, tapered middle and flared rim the Hurricane glass has an unmistakable silhouette. Designed to hold the Hurricane cocktail, it is also used to serve other mixed fruity cocktails such as the Singapore Sling, June Bug and Blue Hawaii.

Types of Spirit Glasses

Shot Glass

Bar glasses don’t come much more iconic than the good ole shot glass. Designed to help bar staff measure out shots accurately, the shot glass is both practical and elegant. While they are all the same size a range of different styles is available.

Snifter glass

Most people know this as a brandy glass. It typically has a short stem and large round bowl which tapers to a narrow rim. This allows the drinker to swirl the glass to mix the drink while trapping the rich flavours and aromas near the top. Best used for fine spirits such as cognac and brandy.


This straight-walled glass with no stem is typically used to serve spirits neat or on the rocks. The wide rim makes this an ideal sipping glass for drinks such as scotch or vodka. Since it usually contains drinks with high alcohol content the glass is rarely filled more than halfway.

Types of Beer Glasses

Lager Glass

Lager is best served in a tall thin glass with flared rim. The narrow shape helps to create a nice thick head and keep the drink cold. While the height ensures it can easily hold a full pint.

Stout Glass

A stout glass is the most common type of pint beer glass. Shorter and wider than a lager glass it tapers slightly towards the base, which makes it easier to hold and allows a rich creamy head to form at the rim.


The continental beer glass has a small stem at the base which flares out in the middle before tapering at the rim. The unique shape helps to accentuate the rich flavours and aromas of continental beers. It is available in a range of sizes and is often used to serve Belgian beers.


The tankard is a heavy glass made from thick soda glass and comes with a built-in handle. Tankards come in a range of shapes and sizes, with the dimpled tankard being the most popular in the UK. Straight-sided German tankards are becoming more popular in city-centre pubs, however.

A good barman makes the bar, but glassware makes the drink. So don’t risk upsetting your customers by serving their favourite tipple in unsuitable glassware. Check out our range of glass and barware today to find the bar glasses you need at the best prices.

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