Having a full supply of glasses means being prepared to serve a wide variety of drinks in the appropriate vessel. Glassware determines not just the size of the drink, but also affects the experience of the drink. A tall, narrow glass highlights the lightness of a drink and prevents too much carbonation leaving the drink quickly. Conversely, a short, wide class enhances dark colors and provides easier lip from which to sip.
A Pilsner is tall and narrow, but is tapered at the bottom. Some varieties of pislner glasses have stems, but many do not. These glasses are best for light beers, such as light lagers and pilsners.
A Wiesen glass is specifically designed for wheat beers. It is thicker than a pilsner glass, and had a characteristic taper at the bottom which sometimes rounds at the top. Not surprisingly, wiesen glasses are used almost exclusively for wheat beers.
A Pint glass, as the name suggests, is a 16 oz glass. A typical pint glass is tall with straight sides, but wider than a pilsner glass. They are the prefered method for serving medium beers, such porters, brown ales and some stouts.
A Stein is simply a mug, often made of ceramic, with a characteristic handle. They are very similar to pint glasses and are put to a similar use.
The Tulip glass gets its name because of the way the flared body shape resembles a tulip. Most tulip glass are stemmed. They are ideal for strong beers, such as Belgian Ales. The wide, curved top also helps to enhance the head on the beer.
Glasses designed for red wine are bulbous and wide. The extra width provides more room for swirling the wine, allowing it to breath. On the other hand, white wine does not need to breath, so white wine glasses are narrower than red wine glasses.
A Snifter a bowl-shaped glass, similar to a red wine glass, but with a much shorter stem. Sometimes called a brandy snifter, these glasses are used for strong, aromatic drinks, such as brandy or cognac. However, they may also be used for strong ales or whiskey.
A Flute is often use for champagne. Being tall and skinny, a flute glass retains the carbonation and brightness of champagne. Because some light beers share these qualities, flutes are occaisonally used in place of pilsner glasses.
A Collins glass is a tall and narrow glass cylinder. It gets its name from the Tom Collins, although it can be used to serve other cocktails, especially highballs.
A Highball glass is similar in shape to the Collins, but is narrower and slightly shorter. It is used for the collection of drinks called “highballs.”
A Lowball, sometimes call a Old-Fashioned glass, is the same shape as the highball and Collins glass, but much shorter. It is used for some cocktails, such as the Old-Fashioned, but also for serving liquer like whiskey with ice (“on the rocks”).
Cocktail have a long stem and conic bowl. Though they can be used to serve a variety of mixed drinks, these glasses are also called “martini glasses.”
Margarita glasses are similar to cocktail glasses, but with a tapered bowl on top. They are used primarily for the class of cocktails called margaritas, hence the name.
A Hurricane glass is tall, with an exaggerated pear-shaped bottom and flaired top. They are used primarily for mixed drinks, especially exotic and tropical mixed drinks, or frozen mixed drinks.
Shot glasses are small, and usually straight-sided. As the name suggests, they are used for shots.
While there are other types of glasses, these provide a good starting point for anyone looking to get their bar ready for action.