Homemade Cocktails — Experiments, Critiques & Travels
If you’re making drinks at home, don’t think you have to buy lots of fancy glassware. Most anything will work — wine glasses, tumblers, juice glasses whatever…cocktail nerds don’t tend to be quite as geeky about glassware as wine drinkers. Using a Garfield or Dilbert mug is pushing it, but if that’s all you have, so be it. Plastic makes the drink feel cheap (sorry, it does) but glass is re-usable and durable, so invest a couple dollars in glasses made out of, well, glass.
On size: do not buy 12 ounce martini glasses from Pier 1, Crate & Barrel, or some such store. Nobody in their cocktail-loving right mind needs a 12-ounce Martini, anyway (drink two 4-ounce ones and they’ll be colder, and you’ll be happier). The most versatile glass is the humble tumbler, ranging from the 6-ounce rocks glass to the 12-ounce double — use it for liquor served neat or on the rocks, drinks served up, and wine. Wineglasses come in a close second, especially for cocktails served up.
If you need lots of glassware, cheap (like most bars) buy heavy-duty stuff from Libbey. Target has shelves of the stuff, and you can order cases online; it will last forever, it’s dishwasher safe, and your tipsy guests can drop one without you worrying about it. High-end bars spring for crystal, but a majority of the best cocktail bars use Libbey glassware. Crystal is nice, but pricey and best found in antique stores. In my mind, you really only need a pair of each type of glass — enough for yourself and a guest.
Here’s where to look for durable, new stuff:
Some of the best places to find glassware, stemware, pitchers, decanters, citrus juicers, and cocktail shakers are antique stores. You can get some really good deals on glassware, especially crystal stemware. I rarely pay more than $5 per glass, and more often than not, they cost less than that! Large, intact sets of crystal at high-end markets will still cost you quite a bit ($10-12 per glass, or $100+ for a big set), so cruise the junk shops. Many times, sets of glassware end up at antique stores because one piece is broken or missing — you’ll find lots of odd numbers of glasses. Champagne coupes and old-timey wine glasses are the most common kind of stemware, and are very useful at 6-8 ounces. Punch Bowls have been popping up like crazy, lately — a bowl and eight punch cups will only set you back about $30.