What’s in a Glass – Or, Why Different Glasses Are Used for Different Drinks

//What’s in a Glass – Or, Why Different Glasses Are Used for Different Drinks

So many different types of glassware. Do they serve a purpose, or is it just tradition? Does the right glass actually enrich the experience of that drink? 

Turns out people aren’t just being pretentious. While some styles may only be designed for their visual appeal, most of the classics are indeed crafted to enhance your drinking experience.

It all comes down to two things: aroma and the temperature of your drink. While aroma doesn’t play a starring role in some spirits, such as vodka, it does when it comes to experiencing gin or whiskey. And while some boozier cocktails play well with ice, others need to stay cold without ice so as not to become watered down.

Glasses for Tasting Spirits Neat

Glencairn

The long, narrow, cannon-like shape concentrates the aroma direct to your nose. Commonly used for sipping scotch, neat or with a few drops of water, the Glencairn design was inspired by the nosing glasses used in whisky labs. Great if you enjoy an aromatic punch of alcohol while you’re sipping.

The wider bowl shape at the bottom of the NEAT glass provides more surface area for the spirit, maximizing the evaporation of vapors; the neck then narrows to concentrate the aroma before widening again. This final design choice diffuses the ethanol punch and allows the spirit’s bouquet to spill over so you can pick out the various aromatic elements.

Cons: 1) Looks a bit like a spittoon. 2) A bit tricky to drink from the first time you try it.

We were a bit skeptical that the glass would make that much of a difference when sipping a whiskey or gin, so we bought a couple NEAT glasses to test them. Come by the tasting room and see why this is the glass we use for tastings – we were amazed by the difference.

Shot Glass

Useful for getting alcohol out of a bottle and into your mouth. Not exactly designed for nosing or savoring spirits.  (You won’t find shot glasses at our place.)

Glasses for Different Cocktails

Rocks Glass / Tumbler

The traditional glass for iced cocktails and spirits. The rocks glass is best for drinks you want to dilute as you’re drinking — great for boozy drinks like an Old Fashioned, where water can open up the flavor by diluting it a bit (like a drop of water in whiskey to open up its bouquet).

Martini Glass

So classic it’s an emoji ?, this shape actually predates the Martini, but the glass became synonymous with the increasingly popular drink. The stem ensures that the drink isn’t warmed up by your hands, and the wider surface area opens up the spirit, allowing its bouquet to be more discernible than in a narrower glass. Unlike a coupe, the Martini glass’s sharply sloping sides prevent the ingredients from separating and, probably unintentionally, also create the perfect endpoint for holding the traditional speared garnish (think olive, onion, etc.).

Coupe Glass

Like the Martini glass, the wide bowl allows you to experience a lot of aroma while you’re drinking and the stem helps keep your hands from warming up your cold drink. The coupe’s shallower bowl size ensures that your drinking experience remains consistent.

Copper Mug

Commonly used for Moscow Mules, the design intent behind copper mugs is not in their shape but in their material makeup. Copper is a conductor, so it can keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot longer than glass. This allows you to use minimal ice for cold cocktails, so the flavor remains more consistent without being overly diluted.

Just don’t microwave them. *ahem*

As Yet Untried

We haven’t experienced the Norlan (yet), but are intrigued by this scientifically designed double-walled glass, crafted with protrusions on the inner bowl that cause swirled fluids to form into a shape that increases the surface-to-air ratio, which results in more ethanol evaporating and allows you to enjoy a more expressive spirit. It appears that the shape of the inner glass, with its walls narrowing and then flaring out again, would have a similar ability as the NEAT glass to better focus the spirit’s aroma. Science plus futuristic classiness? Sounds worth testing out, right?

Personal Preference

So…what’s your approach to drinkware? Do you like to match your glass to what you’re drinking, or do you have a favorite cocktail or tasting glass you tend to use regardless? [No judgment here – we’ve been known to sip cocktails out of everything from beakers to mason jars…]

2018-03-06T03:42:19+00:00

About Lifted Spirits

Distillery, craft cocktails, and events in Kansas City’s East Crossroads. Spirits worthy of the people they bring together.

Contact Us

1734 Cherry St, Kansas City, MO 64108

Phone: 816-866-1734