When he's not busy running the cocktail program at New York City's Maialino, Erik Lombardo is giving us the rundown on all things spirits -- and showing us the best ways to drink them.
Today: Do your cocktails justice with the right glassware -- because your drinks deserve the best.
There are several moments that identify a person’s journey into adulthood: Signing your first lease, the first time you buy dinner for your parents, the first time someone ironically calls you sir or ma’am. Somewhere in the midst of this metamorphosis comes a point when you have to take a look at the Frankenstein mishmash in your glassware cabinet and decide whether or not it’s worth it to hang onto the collection of stolen barware and liquor company schwag that you’ve been using to house your carefully constructed cocktails. If you decide it's time to upgrade, here are the three glasses you really need to have at home.
More: Spring cleaning your glassware cabinet? Head over to Provisions to stock back up.
Cocktail glasses are shaped and sized in a particular way to help you fully enjoy your cocktail. A properly sized martini glass or coupe, for example, will just be able to contain your cocktail when it’s fully diluted. In order to ensure this, make sure that your martini glass is no more than 6 ounces in volume. You have options when it comes to martini glasses, but if you want to fully embrace the cocktail renaissance, go with either coupes or Nick and Nora glasses. When you have stirred cocktails, you’ll have around 1/4 ounce of head space -- we industry folk call it a wash line -- to help you gauge whether or not your cocktail has been stirred enough. Your shaken cocktails will fall a little higher, and your egg white cocktails will fill up right to the top.
Double Old Fashioned Glasses
These are a favorite of 1930s gumshoes everywhere. For neat pours of spirit, anything north of 6 ounces will work just fine; but if you plan on making an Old Fashioned or any shaken cocktails strained onto a huge beautiful iceberg, then you’re going to need something around 12 to 14 ounces. This will give you the room you need to displace the 3 to 4 ounces of booze in your glass with a fist-sized chunk of ice that will keep your cocktail cold and properly diluted for as long as you’d like to sip it.
These are the glasses that will probably have the greatest impact on your cocktails at home. That’s because of highball-style cocktails, particularly the spirit-plus-mixer set that you’re likely to find yourself making when you’re all out of fresh citrus. Gin and tonic lovers, pay attention: The basic formula for a highball has 2 ounces of spirit and 3 ounces of mixer, which means that if you’re dealing with a glass that's too big or too small, you’ll ending up with a cocktail that’s either washed out or way too concentrated. A 12- to 14-ounce highball glass will leave you just enough room to pour in your spirit, 4 to 5 perfect cubes of ice, and just about 3 ounces of a mixer of your choice, with maybe enough room left over for a healthy squeeze of lime.
Cocktails and their glassware evolved together, hence the fact that glasses are named after the drinks they’re meant to hold. Stock up on the right glassware and you'll enjoy cocktails at home the way they are meant to be, even if it means that you won’t be drinking your Collins out of a commemorative Star Wars glass.
Photos by James Ransom