The glass a beverage occupies is actually part of the entire drinking experience and is drink-specific -- shooters have shot glasses, tall drinks have collins glasses, and martinis have cocktail glasses. A cocktail glass isn't just an attractive vessel for a martini; it also serves a purpose in allowing a large part of the drink to breathe while the cocktail slowly reaches room temperature. Familiarizing yourself with your cocktail glasses helps with the right-sized pours as well as proper care and storage.
Cocktail glasses are easily recognizable by their shape. A cocktail glass stands on a circular glass base with a long stem jutting from the center like that of a wine glass or champagne flute. The actual container part of the glass slopes upwards and outwards, creating a hollow cone for drinks like dry martinis, cosmopolitans and lemon drops. The gentle outward slope works to maximize sipping, and its large round opening acts as a suitable rim for sugar, salts and spicy garnishes.
Tall and Wide
The two basic dimensions of cocktail glasses are the volume capacity and the height, including the actual stem. For volume in ounces, cocktail glasses vary from 5.5 ounces for miniature glasses to 14 ounces, although most cocktail glasses will measure from 8.5 to 12 ounces. For height, the stems will only be at most a few inches long -- anything more will make the stem too fragile. Some cocktail glasses will forgo the stem and the hollow glass part will be attached to a strong knob-like base -- these glasses are about 3 to 4 inches tall compared to regular glasses at 7 to 8 inches tall.
The size of a cocktail glass can have an effect on how you wash and also dry them. Miniature cocktail glasses are more durable than larger ones because of their smaller open area and shorter stems. Quickly rinse 5.5- to 8-ounce cocktail glasses, then place them upside-down in the upper basket of the dishwasher. Any cocktail glass larger than 8 ounces should be gently hand-washed and patted dry unless they are specifically stated to be dishwasher safe -- in which case they can be treated like smaller cocktail glasses.
Properly Pretty Storage
Many bars and restaurants have special shelving in which cocktail glasses may hang upside down above the serving area. This type of storage isn't just for aesthetics -- it speeds up service and places the brunt of the glasses' weight onto the base and stem. Stacking glasses in pyramids and other shapes can be pretty, but they can do more damage than good. For an already-chilled cocktail glass, store it in the fridge or freezer on a clean surface and away from other frozen goods.
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