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Proper martini glasses

Not to get too off-topic, but I was under the impression that the martini glasses at Pegu are the "right" size, and that the gargantuan, triangular fishbowls at most places are a relatively recent innovation, a bit like a gin Big Gulp.

Not trying to start anything, because I'm genuinely curious: but is a proper martini supposed to be served in a smaller glass? Personally, I prefer a smaller glass for a martini because nothing to me is grosser than that final inch of gin and vermouth that hits room temperature and is always left staring up at me from the bottom of the big glass no matter how fast I pack my martini away. The smaller glasses - no such problem. But which is officially "correct"? Or does that concept not apply here?

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  1. I'm with you with the smaller martini glasses. I'll see the characters in old movies drinking martinis in small glasses. I was told that martini glasses were always much smaller back then than they are now. I can't even find small martini glasses in the stores. Too bad. I guess I was born in the wrong era.

    6 Replies
    1. re: brandygirl

      I bought some glasses at IKEA that are always just too small for most recipes. I think they're 5 oz while most others are around 8+

      1. re: Lixer

        Lixer, I have the exact opposite problem. All I can find are 10+ oz glasses -including "martini" glasses that were 18 oz!!

        I like my booze as much as the next guy (probably even more), but the thought of 16+ oz martini scares the liver out of me!

      2. re: brandygirl

        Go to Goodwill.....they have martini glasses that you never knew existed for 99 cents (50 cents on half-price Saturdays). Some are antique. I replensh my supply with new sizes, styles and decorations. I do prefer a crystal clear, no embelishments or etching nor rim color. Spread a white tablecloth with matching napkins, preferably Battenberg lace. Light candles to reflect the shiny glasses filled with pure shiny iced vodka martini, touched with a colorful garnish, then step back and admire the sight,,,,,,,Boy, have you got an elegant setting.or what?

        1. re: zimexlady

          We have some from my SO's grandmother, some Noritake she got when they were stationed in Japan after the war. We've managed to get some more at a few junk shops. They're quite small, and I really must say I prefer it.

          Battenburg lace gives me nightmares, but only because I had to iron all my mothers stuff after a heavy starch (i.e., dipped into a pot of starch), but the rest I agree with, makes for a lovely place setting.

          1. re: cosmogrrl

            Hi cosmogrrl. it has never dawned on me to starch my Battemburg lace cloth or naps. They are 20 years old and have been laundered so many times, they are as soft as a tissue. Surprisingly, all the Oxy bleach I have used has never caused a hole to appear and they look as though I just came from the Bahamas with them in my suitcase.

          2. re: zimexlady

            All of my cocktail glasses and tumblers have come from Goodwill/Salvation Army/rummage sales. You can find good quality glass, in more appropriate sizes, if you're willing to dig and be patient. You'll save a lot of money, to be spent on what goes IN the glass, and it's much less painful when you break one.

        2. Well, what's "proper" is a question that's way above my pay grade. But I agree with you that the outsized cocktail glasses that have become common are pretty silly.

          It may have to do with the fact that many modern "martinis" (the word is misused both with regard to the glass and with regard to its contents) are composed of more adjuncts than liquor. So a larger glass is required to hold a standard drink. OTOH, I find that the smallest (~4 oz.) of the old-school cocktail glasses can be problematic because it's impossible to carry a drink across the room without sloshing gin on the carpet.

          My favorite cocktail glasses hold about 8 ounces with a minimum of headspace. But because most of the volume of the glass is up around the rim, you can serve a standard dry martini (maybe 3 ounces) without it looking skimpy, while a 3:2 gimlet (maybe 5 ounces) leaves enough room at the top that you can pick the glass up without worrying about spilling. At least at the beginning of the evening.

          1 Reply
          1. re: alanbarnes

            I refuse to drink a martini in a non-stemmed glass. That is part of the show. Period.

          2. Really old school... traditionally cocktails were around a 2 oz. pour. Really old cocktail glasses hold 4 oz when filled to the brim, but are tall and narrow so a 2 oz pour fills them to about 1/2 inch from the rim, 3 oz fills to 1/4 inch from rim. I have some very old cocktail glasses like this and if I get a chance I will take photos.

            2 Replies
            1. re: JMF

              JMF has it right. As I've seen, most historical recipes call for 2 - 3 oz cocktails and when appreciating cocktails for taste (recommended) over alcohol, the smaller portions allow for more experimentation. I mean, how else can one safely try out many recipes in one evening? Recent cocktail pairing dinners I've attended always serve 2 - 3 oz drinks because diners are there to enjoy 4 - 5 courses.

              If you're not used to these portions—call it tapas for drinks and give it a try!

              1. re: slobhan

                Bump. Big bump.

                Just noticed the martini glasses in the 1945 classic Christmas in Connecticut (hilarious movie) and they are drinking from small elegant V shaped 4-5 oz glasses with a curled up lip holding a 2-3 oz martini plus olive.

                It is the only way to go for a straight up cocktail.

            2. A friend of mine who was a bartender for many years told me that the tradional martini glass (conical, 5 oz) was a bitch to clean in the standard bar dishwasher as it was very tippy and did not fit in between the little fingers on the bottom the dishwasher tray, so it did not come out clean and streak-free, So many places starting use the highball glass or something else that didn't slow down the cleaning process.

              Isn't that sad?

              1. From a bartenders perspective, large glasses do not equal large cocktails, any more than a large globe does not mean a larger glass of wine. I like my martinis in a medium glass for room and swirl but I hate a warm martini. I serve a nice 5 ounce drink within a larger 8-10 ounce glass with some room for presentation, like a nicely shaped twist or the extra stuffed olive. My favorite martini glass comes with a separate chiller to keep it cool, my customers often ask for it halved with half going into an ice bath in a tall cordial glass. I have the old cocktail glasses from my grandparents and they are too small and too difficult to clean.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jspear

                  Thanks for the professional perspective. If you don't mind (and I realize this was a long time ago, LOL), I wanted to ask what type of chiller are you using? Are you using a small martini shaker? I've seen places do that.

                  The "ice bath" in a tall cordial glass -- nice touch -- do you then use a strainer to pour the rest?

                  Thanks in advance.