The Best Old-Fashioned Glasses to Upgrade Your Cocktail Hour
Made with a muddled sugar cube, a dash of bitters, and a shot of whiskey, the old-fashioned is a pillar in the world of classic cocktails — as popular today as it was when it was first developed in the 19th century. "The old-fashioned embodies the definition of a cocktail: spirit, bitters, sugar, and water," says Lynn House, the spirits and cocktail educator for Heaven Hill Distillery and host of Elijah Craig's old-fashioned Week. "A great and well-made old-fashioned is all about balance, and getting the recipe right is sublime."
Also important to get right: the glassware. The old-fashioned glass, also known as a lowball or rocks glass, typically has a wide brim and a base that's weighty enough to stand up to muddling sugar as you build the cocktail. "Nothing beats the standard rocks glass," says David Vitale, founder of Melbourne-made Starward Whisky. "I like it flat bottomed and lightweight, large enough for a single crystal-clear ice cube." Still, bar and spirit industry professionals have a range of opinions on what makes a great glass, including material, cleaning, and how you plan to use the glasses. From sleek and sculptural to classic crystal with vintage style, read on for 13 picks from the pros including the best overall choice, the Spiegelau D.O.F. Glass.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Spiegelau Perfect D.O.F. Glass
- Best Value: Riedel Drink Specific Glassware
- Most Versatile: Bormioli Rocco Este Double Old-Fashioned Glass
- Best Large: Steelite Double Old-Fashioned Glass
- Best Durable: Schott Zwiesel Pure Double Old-Fashioned Glasses
- Best Classic Style: Godinger Dublin Midnight Glasses
- Best Small Pour: Libbey Glassware 5131 Old-Fashioned Tumbler
- Best for Ice: Danuta Double Rocks Glass
- Best Modern: Nude Finesse Double Old-Fashioned Whiskey Glasses
- Best Minimalist: Stolzle New York Bar Double Old-Fashioned Glass
- Best Vintage Style: Hotel Astor ″Men's Bar″ Crystal Whiskey Glass
- Best Art Deco Style: Jonathan Adler Versailles Glassware Set
- Best Crystal: Waterford Markham Double Old-Fashioned Glass
Best Overall: Spiegelau Perfect D.O.F. Glass
Best Value: Riedel Drink Specific Glassware
Most Versatile: Bormioli Rocco Este Double Old-Fashioned Glass
Best Large: Steelite Double Old-Fashioned Glass
Best Durable: Schott Zwiesel Pure Double Old-Fashioned Glasses
Best Classic Style: Godinger Dublin Midnight Glasses
Best Small Pour: Libbey Glassware 5131 Old-Fashioned Tumbler
Best Modern: Nude Finesse Double Old-Fashioned Whiskey Glasses
Best Minimalist: Stolzle New York Bar Double Old-Fashioned Glass
Best Vintage Style: Hotel Astor "Men's Bar" Crystal Whiskey Glass
Best Art Deco Style: Jonathan Adler Versailles Glassware Set
Best Crystal: Waterford Markham Double Old-Fashioned Glass
When shopping for old-fashioned glasses, it really comes down to personal preference. Glass or crystal? Weighty or slim? Etched or smooth and sleek? But for a true classic that will stand up to years of muddling and sipping old-fashioneds, our pick is the Spiegelau Perfect Serve Double old-fashioned Glasses. Made with lead-free crystal, the glasses from the 500-year-old German brand are made to last and just look so stylish in your hand.
Factors to Consider
Most old-fashioned glasses are made with glass, crystal, or lead-free crystal, a.k.a. Crystalline. The latter is harder and more durable than glass, so it withstands etching and engraving embellishments. It also refracts the light beautifully and is typically more expensive than glass.
When shopping for old-fashioned glasses, consider when and how you'll be using them. Are they for special occasions only, pulled off the shelves when entertaining? Or, in a pinch, will they be subbed in for juice glasses? Crystal can be made into thinner vessels than glass while maintaining durability, but daily use can take its toll on paper-thin glasses, not to mention most crystal has to be hand washed. (See below.)
If you're reserving the glasses for cocktails only, consider if you'll be building the drink in the glass or in a shaker. Traditionally, old-fashioneds are built in a glass—the thick base stands up to the muddling. Finally, consider the glass size: either a single, which holds six to eight ounces, or a double, which holds 12 to 14. Since most old-fashioned recipes call for two to three ounces of whiskey, you could keep it to a single old-fashioned glass. One caveat: single old-fashioned glasses are usually harder to find.
Most of our excerpts' picks are dishwasher safe, but glasses made with crystal usually require hand-washing since the material is too porous for the dishwasher. Glasses with gold or silver trim or other embellishments, as well as vintage barware, also usually require hand-washing, as the detergent and heat from the dishwasher can be too harsh for delicate pieces.
What is an old-fashioned glass?
An old-fashioned glass is a short, lowball glass with a wide rim and thick bottom. The heavy base allows for drink makers to muddle while building the cocktail right in the glass.
How big is an old-fashioned glass?
A single old-fashioned glass usually holds six to 8 ounces, while a double old-fashioned glass holds 12 to 14 ounces. The larger of the two is more popular and easier to find on the market.
When was the old-fashioned cocktail created?
The old-fashioned was created in the early 19th century but was not given its name until the 1880s. The Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky has a long history with the cocktail, where some say it was invented.
Regan Stephens is a Philadelphia-based writer and editor who has worked for nearly two decades in digital and print magazine production. She's worked on staff at People, Teen People, and Philadelphia magazines, and her writing has appeared in publications like Travel + Leisure, Fortune, and Conde Nast Traveler. She has contributed to Food & Wine for the last five years.
For this article, Regan interviewed more than a dozen bartenders, distillers, and bar experts about what glasses they use and love, and what makes them great.