HOW TO BUILD A HOME BAR WITH VINTAGE GLASSES
As anyone who’s ever tried to procure an open bar can attest to, having the right booze on hand is only the tip of the iceberg. While having the right spirits can make whipping up a Manhattan or a martini a breeze, nothing will kill the mood faster than having to strain one into a vintage juice glass. Thankfully, curating a stunning collection of vintage glasses is easy once you know what pieces you’re looking for. To help simplify vintage glasses (and trust us, there are legitiate encyclopedias on vintage glasses out there), we’ve broken the basics down into four easy-to-master categories, and paired a recipe for a classic sip with each!
Tall and elegantly contoured, vintage champagne flutes are the super models of vintage glasses. While it might be tempting to nix these beauties because you only drink bubbly on New Year’s, they’re actually a surprising workhorse, doubling as a fun way to dress up plain, carbonated beverages like apple cider or Pellegrino (should your big bash coincide with a friend’s month-long detox cleanse. Sigh). If you’re still not sold, however, consider investing in vintage champagne coupes. These vintage and used glasses feature a shallow basin rather than the deep, U-shaped cylinder. The more versatile design allows these vintage glasses to double as a cocktail coupe for drinks like Manhattans and cosmos that would normally require an official martini glass.
Classic Sip: A bright, citrusy splash of a drink, the French 75 is best served in a traditional champagne flute. If you usually greet guests at the door with a tray of champs, try switching them out with French 75s. It’s a sure-fire cue to guests that they’re in for a night that’s anything but ordinary. Add 2 ounces gin, 1 ounce lemon juice, and 2 tsp sugar to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne and a lemon spiral.
The literal manifestation of a tall, cool drink of water, a cylinder glass will rank among the most versatile in your cannon. Cylinder glasses come in virtually every height, but abide by semi-undercover names like rocks, zombie, and highball glasses. To give you a rundown from smallest to tallest, rocks, lowballs, and old fashioned glasses are generally on the shorter side, while Collins, zombie and highball glasses are taller (and as a whole, fairly interchangeable). With their clean, fuss-less appearance, these vintage and used glasses are perfect for everything from tap water to whiskey. Not sure you desire something so plain? Look for vintage and used glasses with incised patterns, which will lend a vintage vibe.
Classic Sip: Who can resist a meal in a glass? Surely not us, which is why we load up our Bloody Mary’s with everything from deviled eggs to pickled okra to full-cooked crab claws. The not so dainty counterpart to the always brunch-ready Bellini, this ruby-colored drink is best served in a tall, vintage glass that can accommodate all the fixings. Add 2 ounces vodka, 2 ounces tomato purees, ½ ounce lemon juice, 1 dash Worcestershire sauce, 1 dash hot sauce, and a pinch of celery salt and pepper to a shaker with ice. Shake and pour out the entire shaker’s contents into a vintage cylinder glass. Garnish as desired.
Composed of an inverted, cone-shaped bowl elevated on a long stem, the cocktail glass allows drinkers to keep a firm grip on their drink while maintaining its frosty temp. The design also prevents drink ingredients from separating and keeps picked olives and maraschinos from slumping. These vintage glasses are best used—as their name implies—for cocktails, including martinis, cosmos, and margaritas. While some steadfastly believe that each of these drinks should reside in its own specialty glass, we think a simple cocktail glass runs the gamut. And although we usually advocate for simple vintage glass designs, take some liberty with your cocktail glasses and opt for ones with unique incising or fluting.
Classic Sip: Whether you take it burnt, dry, or dirty, a gin martini is a classic to be reckoned with. A restorative sip that poses no threats to fancy silk shirts (we’re looking at you, red wine), this Bond fave is straight-up dainty when served in a vintage cocktail coupe. In a shaker with ice, stir 2 ½ ounces of gin with a ½ ounce of dry vermouth until frosty. Strain into a cold cocktail glass and garnish with a pick of olives.
We’ll admit it—we saved vintage stemware for last. When it comes to vintage glasses, stemware is by far the most elusive, making it the most common place to hit a snag. If you’ve recently looked into wine glasses, you’ve probably wondered, does anyone really need red and white wine glasses? The answer is not at all, but a single set of vintage wine glasses is a great place to start. If you do frequently swing between reds and whites, opt for a stemless set of wine glasses which tends to downplay the differences between traditional red and white wine glass silhouettes. Other stemware includes snifters (for brandies) and wine cordials (for dessert wines). While these are nice-to-haves, they’re among the last pieces you should feel obligated to add to your vintage and used glasses. Worth noting, however, is that wine cordials can make a fine sub for cocktail glasses.
Classic Sip: A fiery, sunset orange hue makes the Aperol spritz irresistible enough, but lace in the fact that this Italian apertivio goes easy on the sweetness and heavy on the bubbles (thanks to the presence of prosecco), and we’re pining for the siesta life. Thankfully, this bright, herb-hinted drink is just as easy to make at home in a vintage wine glass. In a vintage wine glass with ice fill it 2/3 full of sparkling wine. Add ½ ounces of Aperol. Top with club soda and an orange slice.