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Practical Glassware

Nothing showcases a unique cocktail like a unique cocktail glass. But, sometimes practicality is more important—we are talking function over form. Not everyone wants or needs the kind of variety we like to photograph here. What everyone does need are a few different glasses to get through the vast majority of recipes worth exploring. You want to be able to construct and enjoy classic and contemporary recipes the way they were intended. We are often asked what kind of glassware to get, so we thought a simple guide might help. Once you cover the basics, you can always expand with a specialty glass here or there without going overboard. But you should at least insist on these as a starting point.

Libbey 3773 Embassy Champagne 5.5 oz glassThe Coupe
The most basic cocktail glass you should own is the cocktail coupe. This is the historic vessel for serving "up" cocktails (shaken or stirred, then strained into one of these). Far less slosh-prone than its V-shaped "martini style" counterpart, the coupe is stemware restored from a bygone era. Originally considered a wine goblet for sipping champagne, these are the best glasses to keep your hot hands from warming the drink. Craft bartenders everywhere serve cocktails in these, and you should too. Although any style will do (just browse through our website archives to see some examples), your stemware doesn't have to be fancy.

Our first choice is the Libbey 3773 Embassy 5.5 ouncer. These are common in bars because they are solid glass with a thick stem and a sturdy bowl that can be kept ice cold in the freezer. Once chilled, they hold their temperature, and the rolled lip protects against chips and the slightly inward curvature keeps the rim from bumping against the sink or other items in the dishwasher. Libbey makes smaller versions, but we like this volume for their versatility. The Georgian style even adds some decorative flair with a nice knob to hold onto. Anchor Hocking also makes something similar. Whether you go for a simple look that is cheap and replaceable or an original antique, coupes are the workhorses of your home bar.

Negroni cocktail with Ice SphereRocks
Probably the second most used style of glassware is the rocks or lowball glass. Look for thick bottoms so you can drop in a scoop of ice cubes (or a large chunk or sphere) without worrying about cracks. Many recipes will call for these glasses, and even though the volume might be similar to the highball below, the emphasis here is on low, stable, easy to hold glasses for sipping. If a recipe says to use a tumbler, you can use your rocks glass. If it calls for an Old Fashioned glass, use your rocks glass. We like to use "double" more than the "single" old fashioned style because the volume is more versatile.

Highball
Several good options exist. These are often sold as water glasses, and they can usually accommodate 8-12 ounces. That seems like a lot for a mixed drink, but most Collins-style recipes will be served or built with ice, so by the time you fill the glass with cubes, the remaining volume should be just right for tall drinks. It's easy to overdo it using big beer glasses. You want to shoot for 10 ounces not 12-16. We like straight-sided chimney-style glasses with thick bottoms for holding long ice shards and straws. They look great and the classic design works best for featuring anything with bubbles.

Diversify
After you have covered the basics above, you can make almost any cocktail and feel good about the presentation. However, some drinks benefit from special glasses. For example, you could make the Moscow Mule in either high or low glassware, as this is a bubbly drink served over ice. However, these were historically served in a copper mug, so if you like the Mule, it can be fun to feature it this way. The Mint Julep is another cocktail that has its own cup. A julep cup is typically about 3.5 inches high and is made of silver, although plated versions exist that work great at a fraction of the cost.

Moscow Mule Copper MugCoupes are our favorite, so we collect them, and because there are so many unique cocktails, it can be fun to offer them to guests in unique glassware. It's also convenient—in a large group it is easier to recognize which cocktail is yours. We also have a weakness for very tall Zombie glasses. It can get a little crazy keeping all of these within reach if you don't have a lot of storage. Irish coffee glasses, absinthe glasses, footed sours, tiki mugs—they all have their uses, so pick your favorites and serve your cocktails in style!

Glassware Brands and the Summit Sips Store
We aren't getting any kickbacks from Libbey or anyone else when we mention their glasses on the site. But like certain liqueurs or brands of alcohol, glassware is unique, and there are specific styles and brands that make a difference when you use them. For many years now, we have kept an inventory of vintage glassware at Summit Sips because, in addition to more common offerings from retail sources like Target, Ikea, Crate and Barrel, etc., we like to share unique and hard to find examples with readers. Sales in the Antique/Vintage store aren't making us rich, but they do help offset the hosting costs associated with the site. We know, shipping is a hassle and an expense, but managing over 350 items in our inventory is our pleasure, and it means a lot whenever readers—our customers—recognize our personal commitment to exploring mixology.

Peach Pit

Peach Pit Detail

On Saturdays here in Portland, Oregon, the Farmers Market is nothing short of amazing this time of year. It's easy to get lost among the exciting sights, sounds and smells of everything nature and energetic entrepreneurs have to offer. We found an abundance of peaches almost everywhere we looked. Depending on where you live, you might have them at your market too. We thought this would be a perfect time to post a cocktail that features this flavor. The drink was created by Brad Farran of the Clover Club in New York. It is called the Peach Pit.

No, it's not a reference to the 50's diner from Beverly Hills 90210—or at least we don't think so. This is a tropical drink with peachy overtones and a cognac base. It also features orgeat—an almond syrup which you can make at home—and of course, a nice big chunk of

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How To Make Nocino from Unripe Walnuts

Nocino

The Italians seem to know a thing or two about making great drinks. Whether you fancy a bitter amaro, sweet vermouth or liqueurs like maraschino—it's hard to imagine cocktails without these essential ingredients. It should come as no surprise that the same folks whose cultural traditions brought us homemade limoncello also invented a fantastic liqueur made from walnuts. We are referring to Nocino, a delicious and spicy sipper with a complex bittersweet flavor and a tantilizing aroma.

In order to make this wonderful elixir, you need to harvest black walnuts while they are still green—before they are actually nuts. Traditionally, Italians harvest them just after the summer solstice, so depending on where you live, now is probably a great time to gather your supplies. For us, that means finding a friend who has a black walnut tree, or wandering through the neighborhood and knocking on doors for permission.

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Coffee Cocktails

Coffee Liqueur

Coffee flavor in cocktails is nothing new. Classic recipes like Mexican and Irish Coffee are legendary. You also have coffee liqueur which shows up occasionally in recipes (one of our favorites is the Curfew cocktail), not to mention how easy it is to make an infusion. Drop a dozen beans into a bottle of vodka and in just a few days you have coffee vodka for a very interesting "martini". We happily admit to hosting more than one party with a creamy and sweet espresso cocktail on the menu! All playfulness aside, some readers know that we are actually pretty serious about coffee. We roast our own beans, pull shots of espresso at home, and we don't mind sharing our experience and knowledge with others. Ok, we are coffee snobs (this is the Pacific Northwest, after all) but we still get excited when new products come around that

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Knickerbocker

Knickerbocker

Here's a delicious drink to help you start thinking about summer. It's relatively easy to make and it's a classic, first published in The Bar-Tender's Guide by "Professor" Jerry Thomas way back in 1862. That happens to be the first cocktail book ever published, so we are talking about an old cocktail from a bygone era. Fortunately, the ingredients aren't.

This is a rum drink, and a stiff one at that. It requires a bit of raspberry syrup (or a bit more if it suits you). Making raspberry syrup is a small challenge but definitely worth the effort, and once you have it you can easily make a handful of tasty beverages, not to mention a fantastic sundae! To make raspberry syrup, you need raspberry juice and sugar. The best method is to squeeze fresh raspberries and use the juice to make a simple syrup. Just measure your juice

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Elixir de Amontillado

Elixir de Amontillado

The plain old Champagne Cocktail is a classic from a bygone era that has remained unchanged since it was invented in the 1800's. Back then, all you did was drop a sugar cube into a flute, douse it with a few dashes of bitters, add bubbly and maybe garnish with a piece of lemon peel. There's not much to it. The sugar cube generates bubbles as it dissolves, more or less carrying the scent and flavor of the bitters throughout. You would be forgiven if you decided not to sacrifice good sparkling wine to this process. Even if it sounds exciting, you might not notice the effect which is probably why you don't see anyone drinking these. At some point, folks started adding other ingredients to give sparkling cocktails a bit more interest. For example, the Casino Cocktail includes a cognac float, and the Kir Royale skips the sugar

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Never Wash Glassware Again

Old Fashioned "mug"

One of the joys of going out for drinks at a bar is that you don't have to do any of the work. Yes, we have been writing for years about how anyone can make fantastic cocktails at home, but sometimes you don't want to think about the details. You want to let a professional take care of you. Sure, using the proper tools and techniques you can make your own delicious beverages, and over the years we have documented plenty of great ideas. Some of them might have seemed foolish or unorthodox at the time, but strokes of brilliance rarely feel commonplace. This year, we've come up with a solution to a problem that plagues every aspiring mixologist: washing glassware.

It's a recurring problem that never goes away: cleanup is something you cannot avoid. Maybe that splash of lime isn't hurting anybody, and the egg white on the

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