You're going to have some friends over for a cocktail housewarming party. No problem, you think to yourself, I'll just pick up some glassware at Crate & Barrel. You get there, and panic sets in. It's an absurd, transparent cornucopia of tumblers and flutes and who knows what else, in every conceivable shape and size. You weren't prepared. Pay attention now, and you will be.
It's Friday afternoon, you've made it through the long week, and it's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Yippitydoo, let's get drunk. Why is my glass shaped like a boot?
For a breakdown on different glasses, we headed over to Franny's in Brooklyn and spoke to Jillian, one of their bartenders, who has been featured in the restaurant's cookbooks. In the video above, she gives us the skinny on the most commonly used glasses, but here's a basic summary for those who are stuck at work and can't click play.
Standard Wine Glass
Obviously, there are hundreds of variations within this group, but your standard wine glass has a stem. Holding the glass by the stem transfers less heat to the wine, so your hand isn't warming it up as fast. Aroma is one of the most important elements with wine, which is why your wine glass should have a large opening. If you can't fit your nose in it while you're drinking, you need yourself some new glasses.
Yes there are different size wine glasses. Basic rule of thumb: broader openings for reds, narrower for whites. That should get you through most situations just fine.
This is often considered an all-purpose glass. At Franny's they use it for their table wine. That wine comes in temperature controlled, and because it's served at a table, it will spend more time sitting there than it will in your hand, so the stem isn't necessary for heat control.
Technically, a tumbler is any flat-bottomed glass; we get into more specific variations below. The specific glass shown here, though, is wide enough for your nose to take in the aromatics of your drink (probably wine), it's just not curved around to trap in the vapors like a standard wine glass.
Again, we've got stemware here to control the temperature of your alcohol. Why? Because drinks served in this glass will not have ice in them. They will be shaken or stirred with ice first, and then strained into it. That's what ordering a drink "up" means. It's chilled and up in that tall glass (don't confuse it with "neat"). The cone shape serves to help maintain temperature, keep the ingredients pushed together (olives, spirits of different specific gravities, etc), and it provides a nice large surface area for the aroma, since you're typically drinking gin (or a Manhattan) and aroma is 90 percent of flavor.