Building a Home Bar: 5 Glassware Essentials

updated May 2, 2019
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When you join households with someone and you’re both out of your 20’s, you find you have a lot of kitchen stuff. There are discussions of what to keep and discussions of what to buy. In my case, glassware for the home bar has made it to the top of my “buy” list. But where to start?

If you stroll into a store that carries a nice selection of glassware and, if you’re anything like me, you may walk out overwhelmed. I went last weekend to look at champagne flutes, and after I let the saleswoman convince me our bar was sorely inadequate, I left with a list of four other types of glasses I needed. But I went home, really took stock of things, thought about the kinds of drinks we make often and the kind of cocktails our friends enjoy, and came up with this list of five essentials. It’s a do-able list in the sense that many folks have at least one of these already, and it’s good to build a collection over time regardless. That being said, I really would love to know what you consider essentials for the bar in your own home?

• Highball: You’ll see these tall and slender but sometimes ever-so-slightly flared glasses at most restaurant bars because they’re so versatile. They are generally in the 10 or 12 ounce range, and often used for drinks that aren’t shaken (including Bloody Marys or Gin and Tonics). Great for summer cocktails with straws and stir-sticks.

• Martini A good martini glass is a must. Look for the classic flared bowl that has become favored by martini traditionalists. A little trickier to buy these days as their sizes range from 3 to 12 ounces, I choose the smaller glasses because I tend to like stronger, more classic martinis but you can certainly choose whichever suits your tastes and needs.

• Champage Flute Whether you prefer more of a taper or a coupe, celebrations call for a champagne flute. There’s just something about drinking champagne out of any other glass that doesn’t feel quite right. We have a few tall, elegant flutes but have fallen in love with the coupe-style champagne glasses sometimes known as Marie Antoinettes. They have a shallow bowl and are pretty for sparkling cocktails as well.

• Old Fashioned Glass At my house, these are the glasses we reach for first. The short, squatty glasses generally have thick bottoms and hold anywhere from 6 to 10 ounces. They’re extremely versatile and perfect for any drink you want “on the rocks.” If you’re a whiskey or bourbon person, you probably already know that folks reach for these glasses when making cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Negroni or Manhattan.

• Wine Glasses Stemmed or stemless, crystal or glass, per piece or by the dozen, it’s nice to have a selection of wine glasses at home for you and your guests. Shape does matter, but I find not getting carried away when you’re just beginning is always a good strategy for remaining excited about your home bar. So get wine glasses that are made of a clear material like glass or crystal and are not too terribly fragile. As you become more and more interested in wine, you can start to exploreother options. I would say that it’s nice to have wider-bowl glasses for red wine (so the wine can breathe) and a smaller-bowled glass for whites.

(Images: Riedel)