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Proper martini glasses

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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. I need to be able to walk it upstairs to the TV sofa without spilling ;)
                  I sort of have the same question. Is it appropriate to have a glass that is filled to the tippy top by a cocktail or that leaves some room?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: splatgirl

                    I don't think you'll find craft cocktail bars filling their coupes to the very brim. That said, a coupe has vertical sides at the lip, limiting sloshing. A conical glass needs more rooms in it. I like the look of conical glasses, but I don't like drinking out of them very much. If you leave a lot of room to make it easy to carry, it looks stingy.

                    www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                    1. re: splatgirl

                      My 93 year old uncle insists a cocktail should be filled so full, the first sip must be taken before it is safe to lift the glass off the table ! Seems to be working for him...

                      1. re: PoppiYYZ

                        AMEN....I am 82 years young! I do not walk with martinis but have my guest meet me in the kitchen where we clink a toast, take a sip, then proceed to the dining table, each being responsible for his/her martini not spilling.

                      2. re: splatgirl

                        Fill it to the brim. Take an appropriately sized sip from each glass before proceeding up the stairs and, for Heavens' sake, do not tell your guest that you sipped to reach the appropriate level in the glass. Everybody happy?

                        1. re: zimexlady

                          Bravo! (hic!)

                      3. The WSJ recently addressed this topic http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001... and extolled the virtues of smaller glasses over birdbaths both for the sake of tradition and functionality. I quite agree. I recently picked up a brace if tiny little coupes and they are fantastic for martinis. Regardless of size, the cone shaped martini glass is problematic, IMO. It sloshes easily when you carry it--waiters can't stand 'em--and takes up too much room in the freezer and the dishwasher.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Poindexter

                          "I recently picked up a brace if tiny little coupes and they are fantastic for martinis."
                          Me too. Gorgeous little vintage, hand blown 4oz coupes. Quite inexpensive as a bonus. They are my new favorite. O so beautiful holding a Manhattan.
                          I completely agree with the PITA of the cone shaped glass thing.

                          1. re: splatgirl

                            I have a set of eight that had belonged to my Grandmother. When I found them, I discovered one had a chip in the base. It's the only one that gets regularly used (by me, of course). I save the others for gatherings (or maybe champagne with my wife). Funny thing is, I refuse to wash them at the end of the night. I prefer to save that task 'til the morning brings sobriety.

                            1. re: MGZ

                              "I refuse to wash them at the end of the night. I prefer to save that task 'til the morning brings sobriety."

                              This is a great example of wisdom gleaned from way too many life lessons. I'm not sure how many champagne flutes, wine glasses, and various cocktail glasses I've dropped, clunked, or applied too much pressure to while cleaning late at night after a party. I should probably resign myself to drinking from a sippy cup going forward, since I can't say that I arrived at your conclusion on my own.

                              1. re: MGZ

                                Thanks, I will take that idea and save further breakage!
                                I now use my conicals for shrimp cocktails.

                          2. I think I found some 7.5 oz. martini glasses at Target a few years back, and that's what I have in my home bar. However, when I make a martini (which I frequently do) I use a coupe glass.

                            Now, if I may go on a rant...

                            It really irks me that coupes are not more widely available for a relatively cheap price. A couple of years back, I plunked down about $50 for a box of four from Amazon (they're the Cassablanca coupes). I've since broken one and it really pissed me off when it happened :( In general, they are my go-to for a 5 oz. cocktail. When you serve someone a drink in a coupe, they are almost always impressed :)

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: The Big Crunch

                              I bought these 5.5 oz coupes from the Boston Shaker for $7.50 a pop. I'm no glasswear expert, but they seem to be decent quality and they've certainly gotten the job done.


                              1. re: tomjb27

                                Wow! Those look nice, and very affordable. Thanks for the heads up on that site.

                                1. re: The Big Crunch

                                  Better price, same glass:

                                  1. re: splatgirl

                                    This thread gets better and better! :)

                            2. Here is what I have been trying to find in a 4 - 5 oz size.

                              I guess they are a coupe, but a little more up turned than the traditional Champagne glass. I have sometimes seen similar glasses described as a Nick and Nora glass (from the Thin Man movies - a must adult watch at Christmas BTW).

                              Any ideas where this style can be purchased ?

                              PS Doesn't that B+W photo make you Gents want to run out and buy a Smoking Jacket and silk ascot ? Common, you know it does... ;-)

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                It seems I am WAY too familiar with the current state of cocktail glassware. In the drool-worthy category:


                                I have not seen much else in that shape, but I predict there will be a lot more to choose from in the next few years.

                                1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                  Here's another less expensive and less sexy but still nice option. A bargain at $40/6!

                                  1. re: splatgirl

                                    Thanks splatgirl,

                                    The glasses are very nice especially the Riedels. They are still a little too big though. I am trying to get the "tini" back into martini. Just seems the way to go.

                                    1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                      Yea, I agree. It's one of the things I love about the vintage ones. My other suggestion is to dig around Etsy once in a while.
                                      It's probably good the Riedel ones are too big, otherwise I might be tarty enough to buy a set or two.

                                      Here are some actually called "Nick and Nora" that are closer to the size you request. They don't wow me in the photo, but the description does say they are crystal so maybe they're nicer in person: http://www.amazon.com/Nick-Martini-Gl...

                                  2. re: PoppiYYZ

                                    Those glasses look terrific - a lot like our inherited ones. Save me a cocktail!

                                    1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                      I Googled "coupe" and it lead me to a retailer with the glass more curled at the top.....I can see where this would not spill as easily for the blogger who has to walk up the stairs with his martini.

                                      1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                        I'm having a Prohibition party and have fallen in love with these. At first I was going to rent glassware, but with the minimum rental charge, they'll pay for themselves in two parties. (Though I'll have to wash them!) Not as round as your examples, but still a lovely little glass.


                                        For true coupes, look at thrift stores. They're still considered dated, so until the comeback is mainstream, they're almost giving them away. I got mine for 25 cents each.

                                        1. re: flappergirl

                                          Very elegant !

                                          I ended up buying these little beauties :


                                          I now keep a pellet gun and a decorated Christmas tree handy year round !

                                          1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                            Nick & Nora glasses are great. I place an order for them as the first thing every time I consult to a new bar. These Steelite ones are my favorite, and very strong for such thin glass. The Steelite Minners Series of Classic Cocktail Glasses are fantastic. Besides the N&N, I use their Martini/champagne glass and their Paris Champagne Coupe.



                                          2. re: flappergirl

                                            +1 to thrift stores for inexpensive (and so easily replaced) vintage glassware. I’ve picked up several of the conical cocktail glasses in smaller sizes (two that are only useful if my wife and I are splitting a cocktail) and recently four of these old Fostoria coupes. They don’t curve all the way back in at the top like the ones JMF linked, but I think I like that better.

                                            I also picked up what I think is a Manhattan glass. I’m withholding judgment for now, but I feel like the base is so large as to make the glass visually out of balance.

                                            Oh, and I think I paid about a quarter each for the coupes.

                                        2. When I want to be fancy I use my very fine, thin-walled martini glasses. But usually I serve martinis for just me in *gasp!* 6 oz classic Coca Cola glasses.