Bars and restaurants continue to incorporate unique and specific glassware in response to the burgeoning demand for high-end cocktails and spirits.
As consumers show a renewed interest in spirits — notably, high-end ones — operators may want to consider a glassware refresh. U.S. “status” spirits, defined as brands selling for $100 or more per bottle, are growing at a faster pace than the total spirits market, according to the “Drinks Market Analysis” study conducted by London-based alcoholic beverage research firm IWSR.
Premade beverages to go have also added a unique twist to beverage containers. Batched drinks have new pandemic-era appeal, according to Liquor.com. In 2020, bartenders filled any vessel they could source — Mason jars, juice bottles, plastic bags, quart containers, fifths and cans —with premade cocktails.
Concept Close-Up Tonbo Ramen, Raleigh, N.C.
Tonbo Ramen is a ramen shop that includes an izakaya, a Japanese term for a casual bar. Upstairs, the izakaya bar resembles a Japanese speakeasy and offers a menu of small plates. “In keeping with the speakeasy atmosphere, we serve many of our craft cocktails in coupe-style glasses,” says co-owner Tom Mukoyama.
On the first floor, fresh-made ramen and homemade broths are served in a casual, open-kitchen atmosphere.
Q: What are the latest trends in glassware?
A: Glassware trends seem to follow some of the alcohol trends. Whiskeys are huge now, and I’ve been introduced to a variety of specialized whiskey glasses that I never knew existed. Cold sakes are gaining broader appeal as well. Tonbo doesn’t serve sake in the classic porcelain carafe but instead serves cold sakes in either glass carafes with mini shot glasses or fuller pours in a stemmed wine glass. Hot sake is heated in copper cups and then served.
Q: How have glassware trends changed?
A: In years past, I’ve seen drinks served in Mason jars, cocktails in pint glasses and, my favorite, the squall/hurricane glass. Now, I see a trend toward simple and modern with weighted rocks glasses and premium, oversized wine glasses. Coupes are hot too, as well as stemless martini and wine glasses. Belgian ale glasses for beer are definitely trending, along with a sleeker but simple water glass. We also have some really cute 2-ounce shot glasses that have a curved contour that look like mini rocks glasses; the downside, they seem to walk away with customers.
Q: What should operators keep in mind when choosing glassware?
A: Recognize what your customer base is consuming. Tonbo serves mostly crafty, unique cocktails, local beers and trendy wines/sakes. The glassware fits our speakeasy theme and pairs well with the cocktails, beer and wine.
Pairing Glassware with Beverages
- Coupes for craft cocktails
- Rocks (with a heavy foot) for highballs and beverages served on the rocks or neat (two sizes)
- Sleek Collins for double highballs, Collins and a few craft cocktails
- Small 5- and 10-ounce simple cylinder glasses for slushies
- Stemmed flutes, wine and martini glasses for champagne, wine and martinis