woman holding a pink cocktail and wearing a fur coat

It’s party time. You’ve folded the vintage napkins, pressed your lime sofa covers and delicately wrapped your hipster warehouse poles that make your kitchen in silly LEDs you bought at that ultra-trendy knick-knack store on the fanciest corner of you-know-where. Guests in strange hats pool in as you prepare your house blend of the world’s finest cocktail. You’ve mildly sugared the rim with lavender, you’ve shaken the icy broth like a practiced Tom Cruise (from Cocktail – before all that… well, you know) and the room is now filled with strange aromas like tamarind, manuka honey and utazi leaves. You pour it, lovingly, into … your faded alma mater coffee mug.

Let’s be honest, you’ve failed. No matter how much your arrangement of porcelain tiki masks may have impressed Nick from accounting, he will not be coming back. Jenny from the copy desk just passed out on your collection of punk rock vinyl and may never recover. James from HR actually just fired you.

You need help.

Luckily, it’s not string theory. There is a pretty set list of rules you can follow that are easier than folding a lazy Oriental knot on your lightly stitched necktie. Some follow science, others follow fashion and all of them are terribly important. Let’s begin.


Champagne flute

Well la-dee-da, look who came over for high tea on the rocks. Tall, straight and slender – just your mother’s type. The vessel for France’s most infamous swill was traditionally a coupe glass. It wasn’t until some cheese-loving admirers decided the narrow glass better preserved the bubbles. And let’s be honest, it’s definitely easier to hold onto as you drunkenly sway around trays held by sour-looking help at your odd aunt’s annual fundraising gala in remembrance of her dead puppy Whiskers.

Suitable drinks: mimosa, bellini, Kir Royal, champagne, pretension


Highball glass

The highball glass is mainly reserved for lowball people who want more mixer than poison. Karen, I know you just want a coke, but we’re at a party. Like its brotha from anotha motha, the champagne flute, the highball glass’ tall stature keeps those bubbles in where they’re supposed to be. Its robust bottom (I’m talking about the glass, Karen) is great for muddling ingredients. Interestingly, the cup was born in the late 19th century to a group of drunk railroad workers and refers to the colored ball near stations that signaled for train operators to make like Keanu Reeves in Speed or Keith Richards at all times.

Suitable drinks: mojito, Bloody Mary, Cuba Libra, gin and tonic, a Friends marathon


Old Fashioned glass

This hot piece of glass is reserved for those who want to fast track to the old codger stage of life where you sit at the bar and tell youngsters things like, ‘I walked uphill to school, both ways!’ and ‘In my day, we thought porn was blocking real information on the internet, not actually being the only real information on the internet!’ Also called a lowball glass, it dates back to the 1800s and was mostly used for mixing spirits, sugar syrup, waters and bitters. Given its small build, it’s best for liquors that backhand you across the face like its namesake the Old Fashioned or a 17-year-old, 90-proof Eagle Rare.

Suitable drinks: whiskey, Negroni, old fashioned, Sazerac, functioning alcoholism


Cognac glass

No, sit back down, that person is not holding an actual monkey skull, but a cup so large their ego can fit in it. Want to have everyone stare at you? Of course you do! This 20-ounce see-through balloon should only be filled to about a quarter to preserve the bouquet and show everyone how much you care about it. The elixir should be slightly warmed, albeit the smoldering looks you’ll receive while circling the giant glass orb in your palm might well do the trick. The ancient Egyptians used similar-like goblets for drinking brandy and ritual practices. So, when someone comes up to you and remarks on how embarrassingly large your glass is, feel free to Pharaoh them into the next life.

Suitable drinks: brandy, cognac, the end of all things


Wine glasses

You’ve been using the same glass for red and white wines? No wonder you still live in New Jersey with your parents. (What, it’s not the economy?!) Etiquette dictates that reds take a larger glass with a rounder bowl to up the rate of oxidization, while whites remain shorter and thinner and can’t play basketball. Let every bartender that has ever served you ever know. It’s for their own good.

Suitable drinks: red wine, white wine, rose wine, existential dread


The bottle

In an age when ending pollution and conserving time are of utmost importance, the real philanthropist swigs from the source. Or at least that’s what you tell people as they throw change in your frayed chapeau on 4th Street. After all, drinking from the wrong glass at your apartment fiesta is what led you here in the first place. It’s not that they’re better than you, you’re better than them.

Suitable drinks: beer, vodka, soup, giving up

While cocktail making isn’t the most important part of a party, filling the wrong sink with ink could have guests questioning your moral compass and projected survival rate amongst others of your kind. ‘What a sociopath,’ your mom may say as she leaves your apartment for the last time in disgust. ‘I give him till next week,’ your fiancé may retort to their best mate as they toss your ring into the garbage disposal unit on their way out the closest window. Play it safe. Be aware. Use the right mug for your glug.