Gin. It’s one of the most respected and historical of all spirits. From martinis to Negronis, gin is also used in some of your favorite cocktails. But what’s the best way to present and enjoy these spirits? After all, presentation is everything. There’s a reason why when James Bond orders a classic Vesper martini the bartender doesn’t sling it back in a plastic sippy-cup. But what glass is right for your gin drinking experience? Some of it comes down to personal preference. Other times it comes down to the cocktail you’re making. Here are a handful of examples of the perfect glass for your next gin cocktail.
Copa Glass – The Perfect Glass For Your Gin And Tonic
The gin and tonic is one of the most served drinks in the entire world. It’s also one of those drinks that is almost always served in the wrong glass. If you were to go to the bar – any bar – right now and order a gin and tonic, what would it come back in? Probably a rocks glass. Some might put it in a highball or Collins glass, just to mix it up. But all of those glasses are wrong. No, it should be served in what is known as a Copa glass.
The Copa glass, short for The Copa de Balon glass, is similar to that of a wine glass. It has a rounded, almost bulbous shaped head and sits on a stem. The glass itself dates back to the 1700s and hails from Northern Spain (in what is known as the Basque region).
At the time, the British, who are primarily responsible for the spread of gin around the world, thanks to the British Royal Navy, consumed gin from the Collins glass. However, while the British might have really put gin on the map, at the time the Spanish consumed far more gin, and created a balloon shaped glass (and as wine is Spain is a major wine producer it isn’t a shock why the glass would look similar to a red wine glass).
Spanish chefs would often turn to gin and tonic, to both help take the edge off of the stressful work and to remain comfortable, and they turned to a red wine shaped glass to keep their hands off of the glass so the ice would remain.
Okay, so that’s where the Copa de Balon glass comes from. But why should you drink your gin and tonic using this glass instead of the British oriented glass? After all, the British did fine tune gin and push the product around the world. A couple of reasons, actually, all of which will help heighten your gin drinking experience.
First, the curve of the glass, which at the top does curve back in, helps trap the aromas of the gin within the glass, yet still allows it to breath. This helps open up the flavors of the gin. Allowing the gin to breath is important, especially if you’re using an especially floral and nose heavy gin. Additionally, the bowl shape of the glass does allow for additional ice, plus your hand is not warming the liquid but instead is holding the stem, so the ice doesn’t melt as quickly.
As gin and tonics have come into the modern era of drinking, more and more variations have come out, many of which feature unique garnishes. It’s hard to truly appreciate some of these garnishes (or for the garnishes to even remain in place) when served in a rocks glass. The curved lip of the Copa glass helps contain the garnish, making it possible to garnish your gin and tonic with basically anything.
Best Used With: The Copa glass can be used realistically with any gin cocktail, although many of the classic gin cocktails do have specific glasses. Instead of using a rocks glass for your gin and tonic, use the Copa glass.
The highball glass falls under what is known in the glassware world as a “tumbler.” There are a number of glasses that are part of this category, and really it is going to depend on the bar or restaurant you go to. Most of these are interchangeable as the difference is the overall height and width of the glass.
Other glass types you’ll find in the tumbler category includes the Collins glass, the Old Fashioned glass, the shot glass, and the table glass. Yes, the shot glass does seem a bit out of the woods here, but in terms of overall shape, a shot glass is basically a highball glass shrunken down in size.
Traditionally, a highball glass is going to be taller than an Old Fashioned glass (which is sometimes referred to as a lowball glass), yet it is both shorter and wider than a Collins glass.
History of the highball is a bit fuzzy. There are two rules of thought here (as the glass isn’t attributed to one individual or event, there aren’t as many specifics for when or where the glass came from). To some, the highball simply refers to the practice of consuming a beverage in a tall glass. However, another (and a bit more romantic) option is during the days of locomotive transportation, the engine would eventually get up to speed and the small ball on the boiler would increase to a higher level as it built pressure, which was known as high balling. Typically at this time when the train reached optimal travel speed dinner and drinks would be served (the train is “highballing,” time for cocktails).
In reality though, when you go to a bar, you may be served from a highball or Collins as the two are relatively interchangeable (although a highball glass serves between 240 and 350 milliliters and a Collins glass is between 300 and 410 milliliters).
Best Used With: You’ll find the classic Tom Collins will be served in a highball/Collins glass (naturally). If you’re building an at-home bar you will need to have some kind of a highball/Collins variation on hand, as not only is it handy for a Tom Collins, but any other Collins you may serve. It’s also the classic glass used for a whiskey and soda.
As mentioned above, the tumbler glass isn’t a single glass, but it encompasses a number of glass types. Any number of flat-bottomed glasses will fall under this category. Beyond traditional alcoholic beverage and spirit glasses, water glasses, juice glasses, ice tea glasses and a number of other glass types are all considered tumblers. This does make it easy for you to invest in a tumbler glass for your home bar. More than any other kind of glass it is a personal preference.
You may wonder where the name for a “tumbler” came from. There are two trains of thought here, but again as the glass is not named for a single individual or event there is no specific point of creation celebrated for the glass. One theory of the name’s origin comes from when the glasses were hand made (and still constructed of glass). As the base of the glass was not completely flat it could not be set down on a table or other flat surface without spilling (or “tumbling” over).
The other thought behind the glass is that the original glasses had a weighted bottom, which prevented the glass from knocking itself over. Regardless of where it comes from, the variety of tumbler glasses is one of the most commonly used forms of drinkwear used.
Best Used With: As the glass type is so versatile, you can use the glass with just about any cocktail. Now, you’ll still want to serve some of the classic gin cocktails in designated glasses, but if you’re ever at a loss for the right glass, the handy tumbler is always ready and waiting. One such gin cocktail you may want to serve up in a tumbler glass at future parties is the fog cutter.
If there’s one glass that most identify with classic gin drinks, it is the martini. There’s just something iconic about this kind of glass. Probably more so than any other glass type out there. And in many ways, the glass itself helps lend to the lend of the martini. If you poured a martini into a rocks glass, do you think it would have the same kind of luster or allure? Probably not.
The glass itself predates the martini cocktail. Much like the wine glass, the martini glass came about because the stem makes it possible to hold a drink without warming it up. As ice, or even serving a cocktail on the colder side, proved incredibly difficult until the widespread availability of refrigeration, the need to keep a drink cold was even more important. Nowadays you just add in more ice. You couldn’t do that back in the 19th century.
The martini glass is unique from other stem-based glasses in that there is no real “bowl” to it. The shape of the glass is more triangle than half-circle. This almost completely eliminates any hand contact with the basin portion of the glass.
So the glass was around before the martini, and it become popular with bartenders looking to keep spirits colder for longer. However, it also became a favorite for gin spirits as it has a wider mouth than most other glasses, which gives optimal oxygen exposure, which is desirable for gin. This opens up the spirit and pulls out the full aroma and tasting experience.
The martini itself has the earliest origins dating back to the 1870s in San Francisco, when a gold minder paid Jerry Thomas (one of the most influential mixologists in the history of spirits) a gold nugget to make him a drink. Mr. Thomas made him a cocktail that became the basis of all martinis, and he named it for the town the gold minder was heading to (Martinez, California). It’s not fully known when the actual martini glass was first used (and when it became known as a “martini” glass), but this likely came right around the turn of the 20th century.
Best Used With: Naturally any kind of gin martini. And thankfully there are dozens of martini options, so you can fully make it your own. But here’s a recipe for the perfect (and classic) gin martini.
Ah, the goblet glass. No other glass on this list (or possibly anywhere) has the kind of history as the goblet. Sure, it might be the kind of glass you see popping up in Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. It’s also the same style of glass you see Indiana Jones drinking from in The Last Crusade. It’s an old style of glass (even the name sounds old).
The goblet pre-dates the Roman Empire. Outside of the standard cup, the goblet is likely one of the oldest drinking vessels around. It has a heavy base and thick basin. The thicker material originally was because the clay used to create a goblet needed to be thicker to improve durability. But now it is used for insulating both warm and cold beverages.
The goblet glass eventually went on to influence just about every stem-based glass that’s come since (including wind glasses and martini glasses). Regular goblet glasses are not heavily used any longer. You may see Irish coffee served in a goblet, as the thicker glass helps insulate the hot beverage while preventing you from burning yourself while holding it.
Best Used With: The goblet has a very medieval look to it. This is a look you might love, or you might rather have a slender, less bulky glass. The goblet can be swapped out with other stem-based glasses, but some gin cocktails you can consider serving in the goblet includes the French 75, as the glass helps keep it chilled.
The Coupe glass is a rather interesting addition to the world of gin cocktail glasses. It looks like a curved martini glass, only instead of the hard angle it has a wide basin appearance. In fact, for a time there was a rumor the glass was inspired by the left breast of Marie Antoinette. Of course, the French monarch was essentially pulled out of her palace and her head cut off, so the chances of a glass being modeled after such a disliked individual is not likely.
However, the glass was first created in the 17th century, although it didn’t truly receive much usage until just after prohibition in the United States, when it was used as a glass for champagne and high-end cocktails (and celebrities such as Humphrey Bogart seen sipping out of the glass helped increase the popularity).
The glass itself isn’t great for heavily carbonated cocktails though, as it allows bubbles to fizz-out quickly. As champagne drinking habits moved from sweeter offerings to dry, the glass again fell by the wayside as dry champagne and wine doesn’t hold its aroma well, so a wide brimmed glass is unable to adequately hold the smell. Now though, with the emergency of craft cocktails, the Coupe glass has made a strong comeback.
Best Used With: The classic gin gimlet is one fan favorite that looks great when served in a Coupe glass.
There isn’t an extensive history behind the balloon glass. It basically is a snifter glass with a wine stem attached to the base. Traditionally it is used with aged spirits where pulling in the aroma is desirable (the wide bottom and curved in brim help concentrate the aroma when attempting to smell the beverage).
The design of the glass is also desirable when a cocktail is served with ice, as it allows more ice to be added to the glass. As the ice is pushed together it helps keep the beverage colder for longer. The balloon glass is extremely similar to the copa glass mentioned above.
Best Used With: As the glass is excellent for iced gin drinks, it is great for your next gin and tonic, or a cocktail like the gin buck.
This is one of those glasses that doesn’t have much in the way of history. It’s simply a glass that’s always been around. It also goes by several names, including an Old Fashioned glass or a lowball glass. It is a smaller version of a Collins or highball glass. It is also referred to as a rocks glass as it is most commonly used when pouring a spirit over ice with very little in the way of mixers. As it doesn’t have much room for additional ingredients, pouring the spirit over ice is about all the room it does have.
Best Used With: This is a glass that is best used when you don’t need to pour in a ton of ingredients. It’s also good when you use a good amount of ice as there is no stem. One such cocktail to consider with a rocks glass is the bramble.
Gin Glassware Brands
As you shop around for new glassware you’ll come across all kinds of brands and products. If you’re just looking to buy glasses simply to have them you’ll be able to find most Gin glasses (at least the more common tumbler and martini glasses) at most stores that carry dishes. However, sometimes its time to graduate beyond the standard plastic glassware of college lift and bring in high-end glasses. At the very least, if you’re putting on a party and you want to breathe sophistication into it you’ll need the right glasses to go along with it. Here are just some of the top glassware brands you should consider.
- LSA International
Everything is handmade, yet you may be surprised as to how affordable the glasses are. For example, you can purchase two fun cocktail glasses for £35 (considering it’s glass, handmade, and coming from England, that’s not all that expensive). One of the highlights when shopping with LSA International is the wide range of styles. From vintage and classic to new-age, there’s something for everyone.See More
Riedel is another high-end glass manufacturer. You can purchase at kitchen retailers like Crate & Barrel. With these glasses, the price can vary rather widely. For example, a box of two wine glasses can range from $45 to $125. Based out of the United States, the company makes primarily wine glasses, although you can also find everything from rocks glasses to martini glasses. Riedel also makes glasses for a number of high-end hotels and restaurants, so if you discovered glasses at a world-class hotel you recently stayed at that you absolutely love, check out Riedel.See More
- DARTINGTON CRYSTAL
Dartington Crystal is made in Britain. With the glassware manufacturer you can find a number of beautifully done glasses. If you’d like you can also pay extra to have it personalized by the team at Dartington. In terms of price you may be surprised as it isn’t over the moon expensive. For example, you can pick up a pair of copa gin and tonic glasses for £18. The old fashioned glasses tend to be more expensive as there is more glass and crystal used. A dimpled old fashion glass will begin at around £25 for a single. Of course, that’s for the glass versio nf of the glasses. A higher end glass, such as an Antibles Tumbler, will run you £48 per glass.See More
- JOHN LEWIS
John Lewis is a large company based out of the UK. The company doesn’t just sell glasses (you can buy everything from shoes to pet insurance through John Lewis). The glasses will remind you of historic juice glasses from diner restaurants long gone. You can purchase the glasses either direction from the website or through local stores like Pottery Barn or Williams-Sonoma. Here you can expect to buy a tumbler for around $27 each. Now, you might be able to purchase the glasses cheaper through a local retail outlet, as then you won’t be shipping from the UK. However, the John Lewis website will have more style and design options to choose from.See More
- MICHELANGELO GLASSWARE
The Michelangelo Glassware set is an example of being able to pick up quality glasses without breaking the bank. In fact, there is a selection of the glasses available through your local Target store, most of which start at $19.99 for a set of four. In terms of affordability this Italian manufactured company is one of the best options. That is at least if you go with the Target or Macy’s collections. The Italian handcrafted options can go for nearly $50 per glass.See More
- VILLEROY & BOCH
This family owned operation has been serving up beautiful glassware since 1748. It brings to you some of the finest European designs, and even its very first Old Luxembourg tableware pattern is available through the website. From French Garden Green glasses to crystal, you’ll find something for everyone here. The entry level tumblers are also inexpensive, with some sale prices starting at $15 for a set of four at Villeroy & Boch.See More
- ROYAL SCOT CRYSTAL
Royal Scot Crystal is based out of Essex in the UK, and when it comes to high-end crystal glasses this is the right glassware manufacturer for you. It’s also on the more expensive side. A two crystal rocks glass set, for example, often begins around $70 while a martini set begins at around $65.See More
- WATERFORD CRYSTAL
Waterford makes a number of elegant glass and crystal items (including lighting). It also has a specific “Gin Journeys” collection. These are by far on the more expensive side, with a pair of gin balloon glasses running $160, or a pair of gin highballs costing $125. The company originally started in a Finnish village, but now services nearly every corner of the globe.See More
- CUMBRIA CRYSTAL
Cumbria Crystal is a luxury English glassware manufacturer that crafts truly high end and beautiful glasses for your gin drinking experience. The company makes bespoke products while also offering specific gin glasses. You can even purchase the Grasmere Double Old Fashioned Whisky Tumbler, which was featured in a James Bond movie (a single glass costing £85). Other individual glasses will run around £100).See More
Where To Buy Gin Glasses
Thankfully, if you’re on the market for a new set of gin glasses there are plenty of options. In a pinch you can go to your neighborhood department store. Even Target will have a handful of decent glasses. However, if you need something extra special, there are a few other options as well.
Personalized Gin Glasses
There are all kinds of options for personalizing your glasses. If you buy directly through the glass designer the store will often offer personalization. Of course, if you want a fun option, why not try out this Personalized Engraved Juniper Gin Balloon 24oz Glass. While we don’t recommend drinking 24oz of gin, an oversized balloon glass is always entertaining.
Another excellent gift option is a personalized tumbler glass. Whether celebrating a wedding, a retirement, or a birthday, The Great Gifts Company offers a number of exceptional (and inexpensive) personalization options.
Gin Glass Gift Sets
Gifting a single glass is fine, unless the recipient enjoys drinking with someone other than their shadow or their pet. That’s why you should consider a gift set.
The Gin Glasses for Gin Lovers is a fantastic large cocktail copa glasses, a rose gold jigger, and spoon. If you’d rather have the glasses be unique, the Mikasa Cheers Set of 4 features four crystal balloon gin glasses, each with unique etchings. The Whiskey Exchange is a fine destination for all things spirits (incluing gin). The Two Glencairn Edinburgh Crystal Tumblers might be made in the heartland of scotch country, but you can use them for gin. Or, if you’d rather go with a classic martini glass, the Four Jazz Martini Cocktail Glass is a sharp gift that has a fun design that swirls around the glass (yet each glass is slightly different).
Whether you’re looking for the perfection gin cocktail glasses for your next event or you just want to know the appropriate glass to use when you mix up a gimlet, the world of gin and its glassware is a rather interesting one. And if you’re on the market for some exceptional gifts for yourself or a gin drinker you know, make sure to stop by the gin gift guide.