Glassware can help tailor a tabletop presentation to be a unique, personal experience for customers. Unlike dinnerware, where food takes precedence, in this category, it’s as much about the glass as it is about the beverage it holds.

istock 690507630New glassware designated for use in commercial foodservice operations aligns with beverage trends and can enhance the flavor, aroma and presentation of the drinks.

A couple of other notable trends in commercial glassware include a modern appearance for classic rocks and highball glasses. Rocks glasses now come shorter with a wider opening, while new designs of highball glasses are taller with a narrower opening.

The main types of glassware include:

  • Tumblers — juice, highball, rocks, beverage, shots and shooters
  • Stemware — wine, goblet, martini, margarita, coupe, flute
  • Beer glasses — pilsners, pub glasses, tulip stems, Belgian, steins and mugs
  • Other — coffee mugs, plates and bowls, carafes, decanters, pitchers, votives, storage

Each type of glass often comes in a range of capacities. For example, a standard stacking/mixing glass may be available in sizes ranging from 14 to 22 ounces.

Glassware sizes also vary greatly, depending on the style of the line. Common sizes for standard beverage glasses are 10- and 12-ounce capacities. Stemware can range from 10 to 22 ounces. Operators often serve light lagers and domestic beers in 12- to 23-ounce pilsner glasses, while craft beers with a higher alcohol content are served in smaller glasses.

The type of beverage determines the appropriate glass. It’s important to pair the right glass to the right drink since the size and shape influence how consumers experiance beer, wine and spirits by enhancing the aromas and flavors. Additionally, the right glass can elevate presentation and perceived value, enabling operators to charge a premium for the beverage.

With the popularity of craft beer and brown spirits and experimentation with ingredients for cocktails, new types of glassware have been created that feature design elements that enhance flavors and aromas. For example, a glass created for hard cider has a round bowl to release the fresh apple aroma and bottom ridges to increase effervescence.

As craft beer has become more prevalent over the last couple of years, a number of different glassware types have been designated for IPAs, ales and lagers. Although there are more than three dozen variations of beer glassware, operators are best served with five glasses, which will cover amber, lager, pilsner, wheat and ale beer. This allows the glass profile to highlight the flavor of the beer while distinguishing the type.

Craft cocktails and traditional drinks with a twist continue to enjoy a resurgence. A number of craft distillers now produce small-batch whiskeys, bourbons and scotches. Glassware specific for different types of cocktails, such as a Manhattan, a Tom Collins, a martini and an Old Fashioned, can help set each beverage apart.

In response to this trend, manufacturers have updated their classic glassware. Coupe champagne glasses with short rounded stems and lines that are simple with textured finishes are on trend. This includes colored glass with swirls or Murano-style lines in addition to faux textures with an updated ’40s and ’50s feel.

Specifying Tips for Glassware

While operators may have a good sense of glassware styles their businesses need, they should weigh several other factors when specifying these items.

First, operators should consider the nature of their establishment and its beverage sales mix. Is it a fine-dining or casual restaurant? Is wine sold in greater volume than beer? Are there several varietals of wine that would require an assortment of stemware? Are there different types of craft beer that would necessitate a variety of styles of beer glasses?

Operators should determine what aspect of glassware is most important to them, such as durability, aesthetic or price, and the quantity needed.

When specifying glassware, it’s important to ask a few key questions to ensure the right glassware 
is chosen to meet the needs of the establishment.

The most important questions to ask include:

  • What is the beverage sales mix (beer, wine, 
    cocktails, etc.)?
  • What is the biggest problem that needs solving or the greatest opportunity regarding the beverage presentation?
  • What is most important (this could be design, durability, price, or form versus function)?
  • What measures are being taken to control pour and maximize profit per serving?
  • How can the glassware help differentiate the operation from its competition?

Q&A with Anne Ladd, director of tabletop and merchandising at TriMark SS Kemp, Cleveland

FE&S: Where does glassware fall in the order of picking tableware?

AL: It’s best to first pick china, then flatware, and glassware last. This is because the shape of the china helps determine the glassware style. For example, if the tableware is geometrically shaped, traditional round glassware may not be the way to go. Instead, a square glass or one with texture or three-dimensional lines would be more appropriate.

FE&S: How can operators determine how much glassware they require?

AL: Operators can end up with more glassware than is necessary, so it’s important to determine if tables will be preset with glassware. When glassware isn’t preset, less is needed. Also, it depends how many times a type of glass will be used. For instance, if the same glass is used for water, soft drinks and iced tea, it will be important to stock up on this type. The number of seats also helps determine how much glassware should be on hand. It’s still best to be conservative since dealers can provide extras on short notice.

FE&S: Is there a different rule of thumb for wine glasses?

AL: We’re seeing more operators go to a universal wine glass, either a 16- or 18-ounce size. This cuts down on the confusion and SKUs, and it is much simpler overall. We encourage operators with pricey wine offerings to have a dozen high-end stemware types on hand. This should include red wine and traditional white wine types.

FE&S: What are the requirements for rocks and beer glassware?

AL: One misnomer is that operations require rocks 
glasses in different sizes. Times have changed. Unless these are necessary for formal banquet hall serving and there’s a large amount of storage, it’s best to keep it simple. We encourage operators to go with 10- or 12-ounce double Old Fashioned glasses, use one glass for domestic beer and water, and have one multipurpose craft beer glass. The nonic type can accommodate all types of craft beer.

FE&S: What are the maintenance considerations with glassware?

AL: Operators need to consider where the glasses will be washed. Typically, the glassware on the table will be washed in the back of house rather than at the bar. Also, the washing method, whether it’s accomplished manually in a three-compartment sink or in an automatic glass or warewasher, is a consideration. If the servers will be polishing glass, it’s important to make sure the glass is thick enough and top wide enough to get a hand in with the rag.

FE&S: Are there specific things to keep in mind when it comes to storage and handling?

AL: People forget to consider storage and handling, but this has a direct impact on how much of this product will be purchased. If the bar area is the sole storage space, an operator will be limited in how much can be bought at one time. If there is not enough storage, people will try and stack the glasses, but if the design doesn’t warrant it, this can destroy the glass. Also, glassware of different sizes should never be stacked. Rather than having a disorganized glassware section, it’s best to keep the number down and not overcomplicate the bar. This also frees up more dollars to spend on other aspects of the business.