Ready to know more about San Diego?


Drinkware 101: The Stories Behind Iconic Cocktail Glasses

From martini glasses to tiki mugs and delicate coupes—these 12 vessels have their own little piece of history to share
Illustration of historic alcoholic glassware Coup
Illustration by Samantha Lacy

Evidence of ancient drinking vessels has been found dating back millennia, long before the dawn of recorded human history. But we’ve come a long way from clay jugs and Viking mead horns. Today, drinkware is an industry in itself, with iconic silhouettes affiliated with specific beverages easily identified by even the staunchest teetotalers. Martini glasses, frosted mugs, delicate coupes—each one has a story and place in today’s drinks culture. Some are utilitarian, others unabashedly kooky. Here are 12 of the most iconic.


Is it really shaped like a boob? Marie Antoinette experts say no. Regardless, it’s a very sexy glass for cocktails and arguably more chic than a flute for sipping Champagne.

Illustration of historic alcoholic glassware Martini Glass
Illustration by Samantha Lacy

Martini Glass

Is there a more seminal glass shape? And is there a more annoying glass to drink out of? The answer to both is no. Have fun spilling half of your overpriced cocktail.

Illustration of historic alcoholic glassware Tulip
Illustration by Samantha Lacy


Basically a fat flute. Tulip glasses are most often used for Belgian or malt-forward beer styles—anything with a thick, foamy head and lingering aromatics will thrive.

Illustration of historic alcoholic glassware Fishbowl
Illustration by Samantha Lacy


For when you feel the need to use two hands to hold one gigantically stupid, bright blue cocktail (Disclaimer: Please do not put actual fish in this.)

Illustration of historic alcoholic glassware Snifter
Illustration by Samantha Lacy


A cute, miniature glass for sniffing, sloshing, and sipping fancy liquors like bourbon and brandy. Plus, snifter is a fun word to say.

Illustration of historic alcoholic glassware Tiki Mug
Illustration by Samantha Lacy

Tiki Mug

Ignoring the problematic and appropriative nature of contemporary tiki culture, does anyone else think it’s a bit macabre to drink out of a head? Anyone?

Illustration of historic alcoholic glassware Margarita Glass
Illustration by Samantha Lacy

Margarita Glass

A staple of suburban strip-mall Mexican restaurants everywhere, where sugary frozen margaritas are as ubiquitous as ground beef tacos with shredded American cheese.

Illustration by Samantha Lacy

Das Boot

Called bierstiefel in German, shoe-shaped drinkware actually has a weirdly old (and possibly English) origin story, dating all the way back to medieval Europe. Rotate the glass while you chug from it to avoid the dreaded air bubble.

Illustration of historic alcoholic glassware Hurricane
Illustration by Samantha Lacy


Named after similarly curvaceous hurricane oil lamps, this sturdy glass is best known as a vessel for hurricane cocktails, a rum concoction invented by New Orleans bar owner Pat O’Brien in the 1940s.

Illustration of historic alcoholic glassware Porrón
Illustration by Samantha Lacy


Used as a wine pitcher in Catalan, Spain, porróns allow people to drink from the same spout without touching anyone’s mouth. Really, it’s just a fun way to watch your friends spill on themselves.

Illustration of historic alcoholic glass, the Nick and Nora
Illustration by Samantha Lacy

Nick and Nora

Named for fictional detectives Nick and Nora Charles by bartender Dale DeGroff of NYC’s Rainbow Room, this diminutive chalice is a much more refined alternative to sloshy martini glasses.

Illustration of historic alcoholic glass, the Moscow Mule copper mug
Illustration by Samantha Lacy

Copper Mug

In 1941, Russian immigrant (and copper-mug maker) Sophie Berezinski collaborated with Smirnoff owner
John Martin and Hollywood’s Cock ’n’ Bull Pub to invent the Moscow mule.

By Beth Demmon

Beth Demmon is an award-winning writer and podcaster whose work regularly appears in national outlets and San Diego Magazine. Her first book, The Beer Lover's Guide to Cider, is now available. Find out more on

Share this post

Contact Us

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA