On Kit.com: https://kit.com/GentsofLancaster/essential-glassware-for-a-home-bar
The glassware you have will make or break your home bar.
Overall, you need eight kinds of glassware to accommodate a full bar:
- Champagne flute
- White wine glass
- Red wine glass
- Pint glass / tumbler
- Weizen glass
- Pilsner glass
- Rocks glass
- Shot glass
Glassware is all about presentation. There’s a major difference in perception and value when you hand someone a can of beer versus a glass of beer.
It’s even better when you match the beer to the right kind of glass.
So how can you fill out your home bar’s glassware selection while also giving your guests the right alcohol in the right container?
We’ll answer all of that (plus a little extra) below!
Glass #1. Champagne Flute
Uses: Champagne and champagne cocktails
Champagne flutes are the only glassware on this list that has its own special name.
It’s called a “flute” because of the glass’s design and shape. Unlike other stemmed glassware, the base of a champagne flute is thinner than the glass’s cup.
This gives it a unique, fragile, and sophisticated appearance — similar to champagne itself.
The shape of the cup allows champagne to bubble for longer periods of time than a conventional wine glass. The glass’s bowl — the bottom of the cup — sits at a much harsher angle than other glassware to make this possible.
You’ve probably seen champagne flutes at New Year’s Eve parties, weddings, and other formal gatherings. That’s because champagne flutes aren’t really used for any other alcohol or cocktails.
Moreover, champagne flutes just aren’t used in many bars for a few key reasons.
Champagne flutes aren’t often used in commercial bars because they break like nobody’s business. While the base may be large in comparison to the cup, the stem tends to be thinner than any other glassware.
Incidentally, this also makes champagne flutes more difficult to clean. You need a long brush to get the best shine out of them, and high-pressure dishwashers will make them shatter.
While that means champagne flutes are perfectly fine in your home bar collection, they’re not going to last long at your local watering hole.
The best thing you can do is handle your flutes with care. When you need them, they’ll keep your champagne tasting fresh like no other glassware can.
Recommended: Libbey Claret champagne flutes (set of 8)
Libbey is the best when it comes to glassware. Their methods create outstanding glassware that rarely breaks or cracks.
If a Libbey glass is going to break, it’s going to break all the way.
I got hooked on Libbey glassware when I worked my first job at WebstaurantStore writing product descriptions for an ecommerce website.
It’s a bit pricey, but it looks great and it lasts forever.
Glass #2. White Wine Glass
Uses: White wine and white wine cocktails
White wine glasses and red wine glasses look similar. The key difference is that white wine glasses have a thinner and shallower bowl than red wine glasses.
That’s because white wines tend to be mellower and sweeter than most reds. As a result, the wine doesn’t need as much space to create an aroma before sipping.
You can still get some excellent aromas from white wines in the proper glassware — it’s just not as big of a priority as it is for reds.
As a result, white wine glasses work well for sweeter cocktails, too. Most of the time, those cocktails include white wine as an ingredient for good measure.
Plus, white wine glasses aren’t nearly as prone to breakage as champagne flutes. The larger bowl size means the glass needs a stronger stem as well.
Still, lots of white wine glasses have thin sides on their bowls, meaning they can chip pretty easily. They’re strong enough to stand up to commercial dishwashers though, so you’ll have an easy time keeping them clean at home.
As long as you handle a white wine glass with care, the same one can last year after year in your home bar.
PS: Don’t hold your white wine glass by the bowl. Keep your fingers on the stem so you can keep the wine cool. Holding the bowl with your hand will heat the wine, and many white wines are best served chilled.
Recommended: Stolzle Classic (set of 4)
Stolzle makes terrific wine glasses.
They’re simple, they’re timeless, and they’re durable — the exact qualities you want in your white wine and whatever holds it.
I like Stolzle because they just own what they make. Most of it has to do with wine (they also have stemless glasses), so I don’t have a whole lot of it.
But the few pieces of Stolzle glassware I do have frequently get compliments.
You just have to look for yourself. Stolzle’s wine glasses are stunning in their simplicity.
Glass #3. Red Wine Glass
Uses: Red wine and some sangria
Red wine glasses have a larger and rounder bowl than their white wine counterparts.
They’re also much more common than their white wine counterparts, which is why most people can identify a red wine glass on sight.
The deep, rounded bowl helps collect the red wine’s aromatics into a concentration that escapes out the top.
Red wine glasses are actually designed for the tip of your nose to nearly touch the wine itself, giving you a fresh and full-bodied aroma.
It also helps if you have a red wine attachment for a wine bottle so you can oxygenate the wine as you pour it.
Oxygenation acts as an amplifier for your red wine’s aromas, which improves the scent while giving you a much stronger flavor profile.
When it comes to handling, most red wine glasses are surprisingly durable — especially the ones that have been heat-treated. Some brands (like Libbey / Anchor Hocking) can be a challenge to chip or crack.
Last, you don’t have to worry about your hand placement with red wine glasses as much as you have to worry about it with white wine.
Most red wine is served at room temperature, especially merlots and cabernets. Your hand’s warmth may make it a little toastier to your lips, but it’s not going to hinder your drinking experience.
Recommended: Anchor Hocking Vienna (set of 4)
Anchor Hocking is another glassware vendor that makes durable and elegant products, much like Libbey.
(Actually, I’m pretty sure Libbey bought Anchor Hocking a few years ago.)
Still, Anchor Hocking retains its own distinct appeal with lots of fine glasses.
My favorite are these red wine glasses, called “balloon” glasses, that hold 22 oz. of wine at a time — which is pretty generous.
Aside from that, the glasses themselves are just gorgeous. It’s not every day that you can find a wine glass that looks like a literal blooming flower with the durability of a full-grown tree.
Glass #4. Pint Glass / Tumbler
Uses: Water, soda, most beers, and some cocktails
Pint glasses (also called “tumblers” sometimes) are the gold standard for pubs and bars throughout the world.
Their distinct shape, thick exteriors, and durable rims make them ideal for serving just about any drink that isn’t wine or liquor, including many beers.
While beer purists will argue that each kind of beer has its corresponding glass, the fact of the matter is that pint glasses will do fine for almost anything.
This is also the one glass on our list that has a regional variation, specifically between American and British bars.
American pint glasses have a straight angle to their sides. British pint glasses have a small “bump” toward the top.
This bump was intended to prevent the glass’s rim from contacting any other surface. As a result, bartenders could be sure that they’d never serve customers a glass with a chipped rim.
It’s a great idea, and the style has become iconic.
But the bump isn’t used as often in America. That’s because new techniques in glass creation — like heat treatment — have made glass rims many times more durable than they used to be.
The resulting pint glass may be more expensive than it was 20 years ago. But it’s also much safer for customers while offering a long product life.
In home bars, it’s a chore to break a pint glass. Buy as many as you need right off the bat and they can last a decade with proper care.
Recommended: ARC International Pub Beer Glasses (set of 4)
I’ll be honest — as a brand, I’m not super into ARC International.
The stuff they make comes across as generic and it doesn’t have a whole lot of character.
But, as it turns out, that’s perfect for pint glasses.
I like these glasses because they’re exactly what they say.
They’re glasses. They’re straight. They hold 16 oz.
Check, check, and check-plus.
You don’t need a high-end vendor that sells expensive glassware to get what you need in a home bar.
Sometimes, the generic products make the cut.
Glass #5. Weizen Glass
Uses: Heavy German-esque beers
Weizen glasses are full-bodied vessels that often serve lagers, hefeweizens, stouts, and other “bold” beers.
The glass itself looks as hefty as the beer it’s supposed to hold. That’s because weizen glasses are often made thicker than other glassware, including pint glasses.
The thick exteriors give these glasses a satisfying weight that’s made even better with a strong, aromatic, and flavorful beer.
While you may not see these at every bar, lounges and detailed bartenders will have them in stock to serve good, strong beer.
In your home bar, you can expect a similar product life from a weizen glass as a pint glass. It’s thick and strong, and it makes your beer look great.
You pretty much only have to wash it and use it — no additional care required!
Recommended: Spiegelau Classics (set of 4)
Weizen glasses are all about heavy German beers.
That’s why I like getting mine from a German company.
Spiegelau makes awesome weizen glasses. They look good, they’re durable, and they’re made for hyper-specific beers.
Want a glass that’s especially made for lager? They do that.
Want one that’s especially for wheat beers? They do that too.
Spiegelau does it all and they do it well. If you’re thinking German, you might as well buy German too.
Glass #6. Pilsner Glass
Uses: “Lighter” and British beers
Pilsner glasses are made especially for pilsner beers. However, they’re still great drinking vessels for lagers, ales, and pretty much any beer from the British Isles.
Pilsner glasses themselves are sometimes made with stems, which technically makes them stemmed glassware. Their stems tend to be short, stocky, and bulbous compared to wine glasses — but the stems are still present.
In addition, pilsner glasses share a distinct narrow shape with champagne flutes.
The main idea here is that pilsners (and other beers) have a lot of carbonation. That carbonation is key to keeping the beer tasting full and fresh.
The shape of a pilsner glass retains that carbonation for a long time, ensuring that you can pour a beer and play a game of pool without your drink going flat.
In stemmed versions, the stem is also useful for keeping your body heat away from the beer itself. With a finger or two tightly above the base, you’ll have a good hold on your pilsner glass while adding minimal heat to the bottom of the brew.
While pilsner glasses tend to be durable, they’re unusually tall. That means you may have to wash your pilsner glasses by hand, if your dishwasher isn’t big enough to hold them.
Aside from that minor detail, a pilsner glass belongs in any gent’s home bar.
Recommended: Libbey Stockholm Pilsner Glasses (set of 4)
I know, I know — I can’t stop talking about Libbey.
But they make really good stuff.
I’m partial to Libbey’s pilsner glasses because they were the first specialized beer glasses I ever had.
I got them nine years ago from a vendor showing and I still have them today.
Seriously, these glasses are going on 10 years in my liquor cabinet. They’ve survived four moves and outlived just about every other home good I’ve ever purchased.
Pick these up — your kids will grow up, graduate high school, get married, and have kids of their own before you can break one of these things.
Glass #7. Rocks Glass
Uses: Hard liquors and liquor-based cocktails
Rocks glasses come in a million shapes and sizes, but they’re all used for the same kind of drink — hard liquor.
Whether it’s a finger of scotch or a vodka tonic, it all comes in a rocks glass.
Rocks glasses are so iconic that they even come with their own terminology for how to serve a drink that’s in it:
- “On the rocks” means a drink with ice
- “A splash” means a drink with a small amount of water or other ingredient
- “Neat” means a drink with nothing else in the glass
Manhattans, sidecars, screwdrivers, Tequila sunrises, gin and tonics — they’re all right at home in a rocks glass.
Rocks glasses can have rounded or geometric bodies with heavy bases that keep them sturdy. The bases themselves may be customized too, depending on the iconic look and feel that the manufacturer wants to achieve.
You can really go all out with rocks glasses. Some companies granite blocks (called whiskey stones) that cool your drink without watering it down like ice does as it melts.
While whiskey stones may work fine, regular ice does too. You only need whiskey stones if you’re having something neat and you really don’t want it to get watered down.
When it comes to caring for your rocks glass, you don’t have to do anything special. They’re made for easy use and convenient cleaning.
As long as you treat and handle them with some degree of care, rocks glasses can last for literal generations.
Recommended: Marquis by Waterford Markham Glasses (set of 4)
Marquis by Waterford is another favorite vendor of mine, but not for the same reasons as Libbey.
MxW makes my favorites list because their glassware is freaking gorgeous.
The Markham collection of rocks glasses is my favorite line from them. They’re elegant, strong, and perfectly portioned.
Sipping scotch has never felt so good (or classy).
Glass #8. Shot Glass
Uses: Measuring hard liquors and serving micro-cocktails
Aside from jiggers, shot glasses are the ideal measuring cups for liquor-based drinks.
I’m saying “measuring” liquor here because, as a person, I’m just over shots.
I’m not, however, over micrococktails.
Micrococktails are basically shots of liquor that are mixed with other ingredients to create distinct drinks.
Some of the best micrococktails include:
- Lemon drops
- Dirty girl scouts
- Green teas
I recommend serving up one of these micrococktails instead of pouring out shots of hard liquor on its own.
It’ll help your guests keep leveler heads, and there’s a smaller chance you’ll find people passed out in weird places (like your bathroom floor) the morning after a party.
Besides, micrococktails are some of the best parts of mixology. Finding the perfect blend of liquors and flavors gives you something truly unique that you can share with anyone.
It’s like your own version of a Flaming Homer.
Caring for a shot glass is easy. Just rinse it out, wash it, or toss it in a dishwasher.
Most shot glasses are so sturdy that they can last a lifetime.
Recommended: Gmark 2-Ounce Shot Glasses (set of 12)
I’m hesitant to recommend shot glasses because I know a lot of people are excited just to have shots.
But Gmark makes some quality shot glasses.
These glasses are all portioned to 2 oz., which is about as much as you could want from a single shot.
That makes them great for portioning out hard liquor, although you could also serve up micrococktails if you wanted.
I’ve owned some Gmark glassware in the past. It’s not quite as durable as Libbey, but for a heavy-base shot glass, Gmark will do just fine.
Start Your Home Bar with the Perfect Glassware
Want to pick up some glassware yourself?
Our usual plug — Amazon — has all of it.