No More Solo Cups: The Ultimate Guide To Drinking Like An Adult

Photographed by Jason Varney For The New Cocktail Hour (Running Man Press).
Crafting your own cocktails can be intimidating, which is why it's easy to leave it up to the pros and stick to what I call the "and" cocktails at home, a.k.a. the drinks that have both ingredients in the title ("gin and tonic," "scotch and soda"). Not only do you have to measure, stir, and pour just so, you also have to have the right kind of equipment on hand. But it doesn't have to be so daunting.

When siblings Tenaya and Andrew Darlington wrote The New Cocktail Hour, they set out to show that delicious craft cocktails were possible at home, no intimidating prep work or tipping required. As it turns out, the path to being a master at-home mixologist is really about understanding the basics, and it doesn't get any more basic than glassware.

The right cup for the right drink isn't just an etiquette thing, like knowing how to set a table. It can actually affect the quality of the drink. But, as the Darlingtons explain, it's really less about having every possible glass under the sun and more about having the basics nailed down. Of course, it helps to have some not-so-basic options too.

Ahead, get the 411 on the specific cups that different cocktails are served in. Plus, the glasses every bar cart needs — and the ones it's nice to have if you're feeling fancy.
Advertisement
1 of 18
Photographed by Jason Varney For The New Cocktail Hour (Running Man Press).
Must Haves:
Rocks Glass

Rocks glasses get their name from the style of drink you'd order for it — "on the rocks." They can also be called "lowball glasses." A typical rocks drink would be an Old Fashioned, a cocktail that is mostly spirits served on ice. The heavier a rocks glass is, the more expensive it will be, but Andre says the main thing to look for is that you "can get your hands around the dang thing."

"Some of these rocks glasses are very big and very heavy and not comfortable to hold," he explains. But rocks glasses are also a great place to use larger ice cubes that melt slower, so a glass that's too small (like under 5 oz.) might not fit a large-format ice cube.
2 of 18
Large-format ice cubes, like the ones pictured, are easy to make at home, thanks to silicon and plastic trays.

Schott Zwiesel Bar Collection Whiskey Tumbler, $9.95, available at Sur La Table.
Advertisement
3 of 18
The price of a rocks glass generally reflects how much glass was used to make it, but you can find less expensive options if you look around.

Luminarc Barcraft Straight-Sided On The Rocks (Set of 4), $15.99, available on Amazon.
4 of 18
Ikea's GODIS glasses might be on the small side for large-format ice, but you can't beat the price.

GODIS Glasses (6 pack), $3.99, available at Ikea.
5 of 18
Photographed by Jason Varney For The New Cocktail Hour (Running Man Press).
Collins Glass
A collins glass gets its name from the Tom Collins, made with gin, lemonade, and soda water. Drinks that are good for a collins glass are served over ice and topped off with soda water or something else fizzy. These drinks are often also served in highball glasses, but the Darlingtons prefer the smaller Collins glass for keeping your drink fresher.

They recommend looking collins glasses that are around 10-12 oz. A classic collins has a narrow bases, which might make it more tippy (especially as you get more tipsy!), so also look for one that's not too tall and narrow.
6 of 18
To avoid the trap of relying too much of those "blank and blank" drinks I mentioned earlier, Tenaya says that an easy way to use a collins cup is to start with 2 oz spirit, add a dash of bitters or shrub of your choice, top off with soda water and garnish with mint or lime. In nearly the same amount of time, you've got a way more elevated cocktail.

Strauss Cooler Glass, $5.95, available at Crate and Barrel.
7 of 18
If you want to add a little fun to your collins glasses, it doesn't get better than gold flamingos.

Easy Tiger Cocktail Glass, $16.99, available at Amazon.
Advertisement
8 of 18
Speaking of large-format ice, one cube from this collins ice tray will allow you to top off your guests' drinks multiple times, no ice refresh required.

Cocktail Kingdom Collins Ice Mold, $7.95, available at Cocktail Kingdom.
9 of 18
Photographed by Jason Varney For The New Cocktail Hour (Running Man Press).
Coupe
Coupe glasses are the third and final "must-have" for a well-stocked bar. Perfect for ice-free drinks served "straight up," the Darlingtons like a one that's around 4 oz.

"Old martini glasses used to be huge," Andre explains. But bartenders in the craft cocktail movement began using smaller coupe glasses. This was not only to make the drink appear bigger in the glass, but to allow the drink to stay fresher and cooler longer. "You don’t need to be drinking 8 oz. of vodka, you should maybe have 3 oz., then maybe have two of them," he says.
10 of 18
Coupes are also an alternative to flutes for champagne or sparkling wine, meaning a set will do double-duty on your bar cart.

Anthropologie Enchanted Wine Coupe, $20, available at Anthropologie.
11 of 18
Once hard to find, you can now get sets of coupes inexpensively off Amazon.

Luminarc Coupe Cocktail Glass (Set of 4), $10.99, available at Amazon.
12 of 18
Of course, a fancier set has it's appeal, too.

Williams Sonoma Vintage Etched Coupe Glasses, $66.95, available at Williams Sonoma.
Advertisement
13 of 18
Nice To Have:
Moscow Mule Mug
Moscow mules, made with ginger beer, vodka, and lime, are often served in copper mugs. "They’re fun to hang up in your kitchen," Andre points out. You can also serve twists on the classic mule (like a Kentucky mule, made with bourbon) in them.

West Elm Moscow Mule Mug, $24, available at West Elm.
14 of 18
Julep Cup
You can technically serve mint juleps (or other drinks in its family, known as "smashes") in a rocks glass. But Andre still likes having julep cups around. "It’s amazing how many times, if you have julep cups, you use them," he laughs. Tenaya points out that they can also be an elegant way to serve ice cream or fruit.

Twine Old Kentucky Home Mint Julep Cup, $24.64, available at Amazon.
15 of 18
Tiki Mugs
Large, tropical cocktails, known as "tiki drinks" (a.k.a. anything that might come with a paper umbrella) are back in style — with a vengeance. You can find new glasses online, but the Darlingtons also recommend looking around thrift stores for some of the original ones from the 1960s.

Accoutrements Tiki Tumblers (Set of 4), $22.21, available at Amazon.
16 of 18
Hurricane Glass
Originally named for the hurricane cocktail, these can also be nice to serve piña coladas or similar drinks in .

Crate & Barrel Hurricane Glass, $3.95, available at Crate & Barrel.
17 of 18
Nick And Nora Glass
Nick and Noras are basically smaller martini glasses and are a classic of the Prohibition era. They're great for the types of drinks you'd also serve in a coupe, but generally are much smaller.

Minners Classic Nick & Nora Glasses, $53.95, available at Williams Sonoma.
18 of 18
Advertisement

More from Food & Drinks

Watch

R29 Original Series