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A Bar Manager's Guide to Choosing the Right Glassware

how to choose the right glassware

How would you react if you ordered a glass of wine at your favorite bar and it was served in a mason jar? While some people might take it in stride, most people would do a double-take. If you have the slightest experience with drinking wine, then you know that the beverage is mostly served in stemware.

There is a reason that we serve drinks in specific glassware, and every bar and restaurant owner needs to understand which types they need in their bar. Here's what you need to know about choosing the right glassware and why. 

Budgetary Considerations for Glassware

Glassware isn’t cheap, and the sad reality is that it will eventually get broken. For that reason, it’s
important to exercise self-restraint when purchasing glassware. Your glassware should not be
exorbitantly expensive, because it will very likely need regular replacing.

Glassware Should Match Your Decor

Your glassware should be a reflection of your restaurant’s personal style. That is to say -- it should match
the vibe that you are going for in your space. For example, a dive bar should probably avoid serving
cocktails in fancy stemware. Likewise, a cocktail bar should not be using plastic or overly generic

Spacial and Practical Considerations

Glassware is going to require a lot of real-estate behind the bar. Keep this in mind when developing your
drink program. The more varied types of glasses you require, the more space you’ll need to dedicate to
storage. Some types of glasses may require hand-washing as well, which can slow down service


selecting beer glassesChoosing Glassware for Beer

Beer can be served in a variety of ways depending on the type you’re serving and the amount of money
that you want to spend on glasses.

Pub (Pint) Glasses

A pint glass looks like a regular glass except that it has a little outward expansion near the top. It’s perfect for pale ales, stouts, and IPAs, so you might want to keep them on hand. 


Mugs are the go-to for most beers that are dark, flavorful, and served in large amounts. The only downside to having mugs is that they take up a lot more space than other glassware, so many places are phasing them out.

Pilsner Glasses

This might be the most popular glass for a beer right now. It is a tall, narrow glass that has a wider rim than most glassware, and it’s perfect for lighter beers.

Fancy Beer Stemware

Some beers insist upon themselves by having fancy stemware related to them. Some people insist that Guinness is served in stemware, but this is a specialty item at the end of the day.


how to serve spirits

Choosing Glassware for Cocktails

Cocktails need to have the right glassware to provide the best experience for specific cocktails in some
cases. In others, you can mix a cocktail in a more general beverage glass. Here are some to consider.

Collins Glasses

Collins glasses are the workhorse of the cocktail world. They can serve many different sorts of mixed
drinks along with their signature Collins, Long Island Ice Teas, Mojitos, and most other non-specialty
cocktails. By the way, the Tom Collins cocktail, aptly served in a collins glass, made our list for profitable cocktails that will increase your bar's profit margin. And if that isn't reason enough, any bar or restaurant could use collins glasses because they can easily be used to serve water or other drinks if your stock runs low throughout the night.

Hurricane Glasses

If you like the topical fruity drinks, then you know what a Hurricane Glass looks like. The bottom half of
the glassware looks like a wine goblet that suddenly narrows 2/3 of the way up the glass, and then
opens up to a brim that is almost as wide as the bottom. It’s used for Pina Coladas and other fruity rum
drinks that people love. These aren’t a must for most places, but if you plan on serving tropical drinks,
you’re going to need more than a few for your customers!

Martini Glasses

Martini glasses are really only good for use with the signature drink and a few others. You might serve a
Cosmopolitan or a Manhattan out of them too. You can stock some of these, but there is no need to fill
up your storage space with them. They are one of the most breakage-prone types of glasses as well, so
keep that in mind.

Coupe Glasses

Coupe glasses are not dissimilar from martini glasses. They are often used for short, chilled cocktails like daiquiris. These are classic glasses that provide a lot of aesthetic value, but they are also very breakage and spill prone.

choosing the right glass for wineChoosing Glassware for Wine

Wine needs to breathe! Seriously, though, there are generally three kinds of glassware that you’ll want
to have on hand if you plan on serving different sorts of wine, and we’re going to show you what you
need to know.

Red Wine Glasses

Red wines are known for having potent flavors and smell, so a red wine glass is going to be a large, bowl-shaped glass on a stem that is perfect for allowing the wine to breathe without exposing so much
surface area that it loses the rich aroma in a room full of other people.

White Wine Glasses

White wines can be served in the taller, narrower stemware that is specifically designed for white wines.

Champagne Flute

The champagne flutes are about as tall as a white wine glass, but they are much thinner. They’re made
like this to show off all the beautiful bubbles while delivering the sweet flavor. If you are going to serve
champagne at your bar, you should have a few. Beware: they are very fragile glasses.

Some Other Glassware to Consider

Not all glassware falls under the aforementioned categories, but you will still want to have them behind
the bar. Remember to buy some of these products for your bar.

Shot Glasses

A shot glass is a basic, 1.5-ounce glass that is used to serve shots or measure alcohol when someone
misplaces their jigger. It’s a very standard piece of glassware in a bar.

Snifter Glasses

Snifter glasses are used for expensive drinks like neat Scotch and Cognac. Typically, you only need to
stock these at high-class bars and restaurants.

Low-Ball Glasses

These glasses are made for whiskey, rum, and a few mixed drinks like White Russians. They’re a must-
have in most establishments.

Highball Glasses

Highball glasses look like regular juice glasses and can be confused for Collin glasses. These are very
versatile, and they’re used for many mixed drinks like Screwdrivers and Vodka Cranberry.


Goblets are used for wine when you don’t have to be particularly careful not to offend your patron’s
sensibilities by not having specific red and white glasses. They’re also good for serving water in a fancy
manner. Either way, they’re good to have in stock, and they tend to last longer than the thin, fragile
wine glasses.

Finding the right glassware is all about knowing what to expect from your customers. If you are not going to serve wine often, then you do not need a large stock of wine glasses. If you never serve martinis, then martini glasses aren’t as essential. Know your demographics and have a backup plan for serving any of the products on your menu, and you should be fine.

Maggie Mahar

Writer and Chicago native. Has a greeting card for every occasion. Plant mom and Provi employee since 2017. Marketing Manager.


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