Dining Etiquette: How to Hold a Cocktail Glass
how to hold a cocktail glass

Cocktail glasses come in many shapes and sizes, each designed to enhance the flavor and aroma of a particular type of drink. From the classic martini glass to the quirky hurricane glass, there’s something for every occasion. 

While it may seem simple, knowing how to hold a cocktail glass actually takes some skill and finesse to do it properly. After all, the way you hold your glass can speak volumes about your personality and create an impression on surrounding people.

This guide will show you how to hold a cocktail glass and share tips and tricks to help you keep your drink secure and stylish.

Types of Cocktail Glasses

Glasses of cocktails on bar background

Not all glasses are meant to be held the same way – there are nine different types of cocktail glasses that you may come across at a bar.

Zombie Glass

The tallest and most narrow of all cocktail glasses – which helps highlight colorful drinks – is the zombie glass. Originally made for zombie cocktails (a blend of rum, liquor, and juices), the large capacity of this type of glass is designed for a cocktail made with several mixers.

Collins Glass

The Collins glass is also tall and narrow but slightly slimmer than the zombie glass. 

It’s usually used for drinks like the Tom Collins, made with soda water and a lot of ice. The glass can hold around 10 to 14 ounces of liquid and is around 6 inches in height.

Highball Glass

The highball glass is similar to the Collins glass in shape, but a bit shorter and broader. 

It’s usually used for drinks with a high ratio of mixer to alcohol, like a gin and tonic or a whiskey and ginger ale. Highball glass has room for 8 to 12 ounces of liquid.

Martini Glass

The martini glass is a classic cocktail glass known for its distinctive shape – a long stem and a wide, cone-shaped bowl.

It’s usually used for drinks like martinis and cosmopolitans. The glass is designed to showcase the clarity and color of the drink and is typically around 6 to 8 inches in height.

Rocks Glass

The rocks glass, also known as an old-fashioned or lowball glass, is a short and wide glass typically used for drinks made with mostly spirits. It has a wide and sturdy bottom that makes it easy to stir and mix ingredients.

It’s 3 to 4 inches tall and perfect for drinks like an Old Fashioned or a Negroni, with a capacity to hold around 6 to 10 ounces of liquid.

Coupe Glass

The coupe glass is a shallow, wide-mouthed glass typically used for cocktails served without ice, like a Manhattan or Champagne cocktail.

It was initially designed for Champagne, but the shape of this glass does not make it a suitable option for carbonated drinks.

Its wide surface area makes the bubbles dissipate quickly but allows for the aromas of the drink to be enjoyed. The glass is usually around 4 to 5 inches tall and can hold around 4 to 6 ounces of liquid.

Hurricane Glass

The hurricane glass is a tall and curvy glass typically used for tropical drinks like a Hurricane or a Mai Tai. Its shape allows for a lot of ice and fruit garnishes, making for a visually appealing drink. 

Hurricane glass can hold 20 ounces of liquid, making it ideal for serving drinks with several ingredients and mixers, such as tropical cocktails.

Margarita Glass

The margarita glass is a wide-rimmed glass that’s typically used for, you guessed it, margaritas! 

Its wide rim allows for salt to be added and provides a perfect surface area for garnishes like lime wedges.

Copper Mug

Finally, we have the copper mug, which is typically used for Moscow Mules. The mug’s copper construction helps to keep the drink cold for longer, and its unique shape and material make for a visually appealing presentation. 

The mug can hold around 10 to 14 ounces of liquid and is about 4 to 5 inches in height.

How to Hold a Cocktail Glass

woman holding cocktail glass

Whether you’re a seasoned cocktail connoisseur or just getting started, knowing how to hold a cocktail glass is an important aspect of the drinking experience. 

It not only ensures that the drink stays at the right temperature, but it also adds to its overall presentation and appearance.

Let’s take a look at a few tips for how to hold a cocktail glass: 

Use the Correct Glass

Different types of cocktails are served in different types of glasses. For example, a martini is typically served in a martini glass, while a highball is served in a taller glass. Make sure you have the appropriate glassware for the cocktail you are having.

Hold the Stem

Most cocktail glasses have a stem that separates the bowl from the base. Hold the glass by the stem, near the base. This allows you to hold the glass without warming up the cocktail with your hand.

Use Your Pinky Finger for Balance

If you need extra stability, you can use your pinky finger to balance the glass on the base.

Don’t Hold the Bowl

Avoid holding the bowl of the glass. This not only warms up the cocktail but can also leave fingerprints on the glass.

Adjust Grip for Larger Glasses

If you’re using a larger cocktail glass, such as a hurricane glass, you may need to adjust your grip. In this case, hold the glass by the stem with one hand and support the base with the other.

Hold the Glass at the Right Angle

Holding a cocktail glass at the right angle can enhance the drink’s aroma and appearance. For example, holding a martini glass at a slight angle can help release the aromas of the botanicals used in the cocktail.

Use a Cocktail Napkin

Using a cocktail napkin can help keep your hands dry and prevent the glass from slipping, especially if your hands are cold or wet.

Be Mindful of the Occasion

Different occasions call for different ways of holding a cocktail glass. For example, a formal occasion may require a more refined, delicate approach, while a casual gathering may allow for a more relaxed, casual style.

Remember, the goal of knowing how to hold a cocktail glass is to enjoy the drink while avoiding spills and keeping the cocktail at the appropriate temperature.

If you are planning a dinner, this guide about setting the table for a dinner party might come in handy.


Knowing how to hold a cocktail glass takes a bit of skill and finesse. But with a little practice and understanding, you can become an expert in no time. 

Be sure to use the stem to keep your hands away from the drink. And use a coaster or a napkin to keep the glass from slipping. 

The way you hold a cocktail glass can greatly impact your personality and give an idea of your dining etiquette. Take the time to learn how to hold a cocktail glass to ensure you enjoy your drink to the fullest.

Most cocktails require ice, and if you are fond of making them at home, you can get a clear ice maker for your home to make it easier.

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