The 10 Best Drinking Glasses
This wiki has been updated 32 times since it was first published in February of 2015. Whether you just need an inexpensive set of drinking glasses to start off your collection or are looking for quality drinkware for serving cocktails at your next dinner party, we've got you covered. Our varied selection of glassware has something for everyone, including basic tumblers, bar-worthy rocks glasses, and beautiful, handcrafted vessels, made of both tempered and traditional glass. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 03, 2021:
Everything from the folks behind the Circleware Windowpanes is tough to find these days, and we suspect that they won't return to production, so we've removed the Circleware from the list. In its place, we've added the Libbey Polaris set, which isn't exactly fancy, but doesn't take up extra space with flared designs and overly thick glass, and won't distract from the beauty of a good juice or cocktail with any extraneous designs.
Alternatively, options like the Duralex Picardie and Libbey Cobalt Flare Tumblers are both stackable and highly durable, which makes them great for households with a lot of busy residents. If fancy adult beverages are your thing, we recommend looking into the Schott Zwiesel Tritan and Bormiolo Rocco Rock Bar, which both work great behind the bar. The Marquis by Waterford Markham Hiballs are similarly great for tall cocktails, and the Arc International Luminarc Pub, while simple and unadorned, is almost certainly the best way to enjoy a frosty craft beer.
November 27, 2019:
Purchasing a set of drinking glasses seems like a simple task, but there's actually a surprising amount of thought that goes into how they're manufactured. That's why we chose vessels made from durable materials, like tempered glass, in various shapes, colors, and sizes to facilitate many liquids and cater to varying needs.
Tempered glass is superior for many reasons. It is durable, resistant to thermal shocks, not prone to chipping or cracking, won't cloud or etch, and safe for the dishwasher. However, due to the way it's manufactured, things like thermal stress and surface damage can cause it to break unexpectedly. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen. You can extend the life of your glasses by treating them with care. Don't subject them to unnecessary thermal abuse (such as taking a chilled glass from the freezer and filling it with boiling water) and let them cool after removing them from a hot dishwasher. If you'd rather not take the chance with tempered glass, consider other types, like the soda-ash used for the Arc International Luminarc Pub or crystalline, like with the Marquis by Waterford.
We let go of the Amici Monterey Highballs due to availability concerns, offering up the Libbey Cobalt Flare in their place. These glasses are beautiful, durable, and over 17 ounces in capacity, making them just as good as any pint glass if you're a beer lover who doesn't mind that they're not translucent. They're well-suited to margaritas, too.
We also said goodbye to the Libbey Carrington 16-Piece Set, which we felt weren't durable enough to merit sticking around. Instead, we added the stylish Fitz and Floyd Trestle Collection, which are perfect for a cool drink of lemonade, juice, water, or tea, as well as elegant enough to house wine or fancy cocktails at a party.
Baccarat Four Elements Each old-fashioned tumbler in the Four Elements set from Baccarat is handcrafted with meticulous care in France and inspired by the four elements that make up the company's legendary crystal. They hold between 15 and 17.6 ounces, are just shy of 5 inches tall, and must be hand washed. baccarat.com
Mario Luca Giusti Loved and admired by luminaries like Steven Spielberg and Valentino and showcased in luxury stores and hotels throughout the world, pieces from Mario Luca Giusti are both colorful and elegant. Crafted from durable acrylic, their offerings run the gamut in size, shape, hue, and charming designs. They are rigorously tested for quality, BPA-free, tasteless and odorless, and freezable. mariolucagiusti.com
Artel Rope Highball A piece of art in its own right, the Rope Highball glass from Artel is mouth-blown and features a hand-engraved coil of braided rope with slightly frayed ends, two loosely tied knots, and a detailed anchor on the bottom. Its imagery suggests a nautical theme in a simple and sophisticated way, with the added benefit of adding a lovely texture. artelshop.com
Drinking Glasses that Matter
Some glasses are meant to hold ice, while others are thicker to keep the drink chilled by the glass itself.
Red plastic cups–or drinking straight from the bottle–may be all the rage at college parties, but once you graduate, you really need to reach for something more mature.
Simple juice glasses are perfectly fine for juice, water, and soda, but sometimes the beverage or occasion calls for something more. Enter fine glassware.
Glass is created by the heating of sand or other rock particles until they become molten. A craftsman (or a machine) then inserts a tube and blows air into it, expanding the mass and forming it to the shape desired. It is considered an art by many, and cannot be an afterthought when it comes to drinking.
For cocktails or other alcoholic beverages, the design of the glass is important to the integrity of the drink. Some glasses are meant to hold ice, while others are thicker to keep the drink chilled by the glass itself.
The length and width of the glass can also affect air flow and help to enhance the flavor of whatever it is you are drinking, or, if you choose the wrong glass, to hide the hard work put in by your barkeep.
There is a science behind something as simple as a drinking glass, and far more than meets the eye.
Drinking Glasses: All for One, But Not One for All
If cared for properly, drinking glasses can last for many years. This makes your decision all the more important to get right.
Handmade is always a hot commodity, as minor imperfections in the glass make each individual item unique.
Glass does not contain toxins that are present in plastic. The fact that it also lasts for years without needing to be thrown out or recycled makes them more environmentally friendly and economical. Some are even made from recycled glass themselves.
Colored and hand-blown glasses are sure to be in style because of their beautiful designs. Handmade is always a hot commodity, as minor imperfections in the glass make each individual item unique.
To go the old-fashioned route, crystal glasses are stunning and provide a classy clinking sound that other glasses cannot match. However, they must be hand-washed to prevent clouding.
You also have to consider what it is that you are drinking. If you're a big beer drinker, or have a family that likes to kill a pint from time to time, then why not splurge and buy a set of pint glasses? If you're into cocktails, you cannot go wrong with a highball, old-fashioned, or tumbler style. Of course, these can also double as water or juice glasses for regular use.
A History You Can Drink To
For over 5,000 years, man has been drinking out of glass-based cups. The first ones may not have been clear and were likely a bit bulky.
But the convenience of not having to squeeze the last drops of water or wine out of an animal's bladder-turned-drinking-pouch was undoubtedly a bit refreshing.
The first ones may not have been clear and were likely a bit bulky.
Early glasses were chalices, akin to what we expect the Holy Grail to look like. They were large goblets with short stems that could have been decorated with jewels depending on the wealth of the owner. Lower classes had smaller glasses which looked more like metal than crystal. If one could not afford their own glass, wooden cups were used.
By the 1890s, glasses became mass-produced and imperfections were weeded out. Drinking glasses took all shapes and sizes from the simple to the elegant.
Alcohol is a rather large part of human history, and for a lot of that time, the glass was right there holding it.