Through a Crystal, Darkly

Go into a bar today and order a mixed drink, and, unless you happen to be in a tiki bar, odds are very good your drink with come in either a short tumbler (rocks or old fashioned glass), a long glass (collins or tall glass), or a cocktail glass. If you happen to get a Champaign cocktail, you might end up with a champaign flute, or you might get a glass mug (Irish coffee glass) if you are getting a hot drink. What amazes me is the fact that had you gone into a bar in an earlier time, you would see drinks served not only in those five glasses, but a coupe, especially before the advent of the flute, a wine glass, a sherry glass, a cordial glass, a snifter, or any of dozens of other glasses.

Why do I raise this point? I had a very interesting experience a while back which I was thinking of recently. We went to a local restaurant, and my mother asked for a glass of wine. We heard a crash from the kitchen, and the waiter brought out a cocktail glass full of red wine. He apologized, saying that while getting down the case of wine glasses, we had dropped it, and the restaurant was out of wine glasses. My mother tasted the wine, and it was awful, and offered a sip to the rest of us. It was atrocious. Another waiter came out, having found a wine glass in the dishwasher. I saw the waiter pour the wine from the cocktail glass to the wine glass. When the wine was passed around again it was completely drinkable.

This example goes to show that glassware can have a huge effect on the drinking experience. I feel that in creating drinks, we often overlook that effect. If it has ice, it goes in either tumbler or a long glass depending on quantity, while if it doesn’t have ice, it goes into a cocktail glass. People who drink spirits neat or on with water, or simply wine, sometimes spend an inordinate amount of effort picking the precise perfect glass. I think that goes a little far, but if the nose of the cocktail is enjoyable, should we simply be letting it float away out of the glass? I have been noticing that a lot of people recommend that when making a mint julep, you use a straw short enough that the drinker is forced to put his or her nose right in the mint garnish. Why not simply trap those aromas?

Happy drinking,
The Scribe

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