Shaken Not Stirred: The Right Glass for the Job

When it comes to cocktails, there’s almost no limit to the possibilities of what you can create. All you need are the right ingredients, and the right glass. Although there are many types of glasses available in all shapes and sizes, there are actually very specific reasons for serving different drinks in these different glasses. We’ll take a look at four of the most common types of cocktail glass, and the reasons they’re shaped the way they are. We’ll also look at the best ways of washing them so you can get a great clean for the perfect glass.


A highball is a tall glass with a fairly small circumference. It’s perfect for carbonated drinks because the tall, thin shape helps to preserve the necessary bubbles by reducing the surface area of the liquid exposed to the air. One explanation for how the highball got its name is that scotch whisky used to be measured in “bolls,” and this made its way into common usage as a word for glass, although one boll equals about 181 litres, so it’s not recommended that you try to find a glass that size!

Since highballs are designed to preserve the carbonation in drinks, these glasses are perfect for cocktails that have an effervescent ingredient, such as:

  • Tom Collins
  • Long Island Iced Tea
  • Gin and tonic
  • Cuba Libre


Unsurprisingly, the lowball is very similar to the highball, but lower. The base is much thicker to keep the drink cool, and the lower, but wider, profile increases the amount of liquid exposed to the air to allow for oxidization.

These glasses are perfect for deep spirits like whisky and bourbon, as the complex flavours are given opportunity to develop with the air. Perfect cocktails for these glasses are:

  • White Russian
  • Old-Fashioned
  • Caipirinha
  • Negroni

Martini Glass

The Martini glass originated in the 1900s, and the story behind it either attributes its obtuse shape to the fact that it allows the alcohol the maximum amount of exposure to the air for oxidation, or to the (untrue but marvelous) idea that if during prohibition a glass was required to be emptied swiftly, it would only take a flick of the wrist.

The shape and delicate nature of these glasses require the drinks to be mixed (shaken or stirred) in a separate container. They work well with delicately-flavoured cocktails such as:

  • Martini (funnily enough)
  • Manhattan
  • Gimlet
  • Pink Gin


The coupe was originally a type of champagne glass, supposedly designed based upon a certain body part of Marie Antoinette! Whether or not this is true, it didn’t stop champagne makers Dom Perignon from updating it in 2008, based this time on the shapely form of Claudia Schiffer. The coupe’s rounded profile makes the drink far less likely to spill out than with the martini glass, but like it’s more angular cousin the stem prevents the drinker’s hands from warming the liquid within.

The best drinks to serve in a coupe include:

  • Cosmopolitan
  • Brandy Alexander
  • Grasshopper
  • Sidecar

Washing Your Cocktail Glasses

You have to be careful when loading drinking glasses into the dishwasher – make sure to position them on the top shelf, and away from each other. If glasses are too close they could knock together, causing them to chip or crack. This is especially important with lowball glasses, as their low centres of gravity makes them more likely to slide around.

Highball glasses are less likely to slide, but because of their height and smaller circumference they are more likely to tip, so make sure that they’re supported from all sides if you can.

The stemmed glasses – coupe and Martini – may require you to lower the top rack to create more space. Like the other glasses, it’s also important to make sure that they aren’t at risk of knocking into any other glasses if they move about during the wash.

For all glassware it’s important to make sure that you’re using the right cleaning products. Finish® Quantum MaxTM Shine & ProtectTMis developed to give glasses a great clean, as well as protect them from going cloudy or dull. Finally, the rinse aid ensures that water evaporates straight off the surface, stopping unsightly water spots from forming.

So whatever your tipple is, you can guarantee you’ll be drinking it out of a perfectly gleaming glass, thanks to Finish®.