A lot gets said about what liquors you need to start a good home bar. Our own Zachary Fowle got a good answer from an excellent local bartender. But there's something else that's often neglected: You need to have something to hold your drinks. Sure, you can use that motley selection of coffee mugs and souvenir Hurricane glasses in your cabinet, but the right glass makes your drink more enjoyable. You need only five kinds of glasses to have something for every occasion.
5: Rocks glass, a.k.a. Old-Fashioned glass. Perfect for enjoying spirits neat or (of course) on the rocks. Look for ones that are about seven ounces. I get mine from IKEA, where they have fun mod designs for almost the same price as a thrift store.
4: Collins Glass, a.k.a. tall glass. The Collins glass comes into play for most simple mixed drinks, like Cuba libres, Cape Codders, and screwdrivers. The ideal size is 10 to 12 ounces.
3: Double rocks glass, a.k.a. Double Old-Fashioned glass. The double rocks glass serves two functions. First, when you want an especially stiff belt of booze, go for the double rocks. I use them more often for cocktails like margaritas and mai tais, in which the juices included make a bigger cocktail than you'll fit into a regular rocks glass. A good double rocks glass should be twice the size as a regular rocks glass, about 14 ounces. If you like your drinks extra-tall, you can use pint glasses here instead.
2: Cocktail glass, a.k.a. martini glass. Ah, the cocktail glass. You see one of these in someone's hand, and you know right off the bat that there's a party going on. They're more commonly known as martini glasses, since that's the drink you think of when you see one, but I prefer calling it a cocktail glass because so much more than martinis go into them. Be careful with your choice of glass style here. Most these days are far too big. 5½ ounces is as big as you want to go. Make sure there's a decent stem on the glass; the cocktail glass is held by the stem so that the heat of your hand doesn't warm the glass. Import stores such as Pier One and Cost Plus have novel selections at good prices. Any cocktail that would normally go in a cocktail glass will also be right at home in a champagne flute, and possibly feel that much more elegant for it.
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1: Red wine glass. The red wine glass is a jack of all trades. You can use it as a substitute for almost any other glass you need (except, in my opinion, the cocktail glass; the tiny drink gets lost in the big glass), and it makes an excellent home for slushy blended drinks at summer gatherings. You want a nice big bowl, at least 20 ounces. I find it's more enjoyable to drink from ones with thin rims; thick-rimmed wine glasses make me feel like I'm drinking from a mason jar. While you can spend fabulous sums on designer glasses, I prefer to get less expensive ones that won't leave me pissed off beyond recognition when one breaks at a party. IKEA has some excellent ones for two or three bucks a stem if you don't mind picking through piles of glasses to find ones with thinner rims.
I know you think I've missed your favorite kind of glass. What do you think is essential in a home bar?
That was Last Call, in which JK Grence, bartender at Shady's, serves up booze advice. Have a question for JK? Leave it in the comments below.