The Basics Bar Tools

The 7 Best Cocktail Mixing Glasses and Tins in 2021

There are more ways than one to stir up the perfect drink.

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Contrary to popular belief, a cocktail mixing glass doesn’t have to be made of glass. In fact, there are two camps, each presenting a compelling case. Team glass is made up of the old-school romantics, the loyalists, who prefer the twinkling sound of ice against glass walls. Then, there’s team metal, whose appreciation for extreme durability supersedes any disdain for the cold scrape of a bar spoon against metal.

Paul Morrison, lead bartender at L.A. Jackson in Nashville, explains the main selling points of glass and metal mixing vessels: “The metal ones obviously never break, so you don’t have to replace them. [Secondly], metal chills drinks faster and dilutes ice slower than glass does,” he tells us.

But while those features are advantageous for a high-volume bar like his, Morrison says he still prefers glass. “I’ve found that the metal ones are usually so light that when you stir they have a tendency to tip over. But honestly, there’s just something sexy about stirring in a glass mixing glass.”

We couldn’t agree more. Here, our favorite (mostly glass) cocktail mixing vessels of the year.

Best Overall: Cocktail Kingdom 500 mL Yarai Mixing Glass

YARAI MIXING GLASS

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Heavy base

  • Sturdy

  • Classic design

Cons
  • Relatively expensive

“We’ve always used Yarai mixing glasses,” says Morrison, referring to Cocktail Kingdom’s classic heavy-duty stirring vessel. “It’s been the staple mixing glass since I began bartending. They use thick glass so it’s not easily breakable, and it has a heavy base so it never tips over as you are stirring.

An added bonus: “Its signature diamond-cut design looks great sitting on top of the bar. Guests always ask where they can get one.”

Capacity: 1 to 2 drinks | Material: Lead-free crystal | Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Best Budget: Viski 500 mL Lead-Free Crystal Cocktail Mixing Glass

Viski Crystal Cocktail Mixing Glass

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Affordable

  • Heavy base

  • Great for beginners

Cons
  • Average quality

This mixing glass by barware brand Viski offers all of the same key selling points as its more high-end Yarai counterpart, but at half the price, making it a great option for those just getting into home bartending.

As far as determining whether or not a cocktail should be stirred, Haley Forest, U.S. brand ambassador for cult-favorite Italian liqueur Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, breaks it down in simple terms: “Stirring is a method of chilling and diluting a drink without adding aeration—by using a classic mixing spoon, you’re able to slide along the edge of the glass and move the contents without chipping the ice or adding any extra air. Think about the difference between a Daiquiri and a Martini: The Daiquiri practically bubbles from the glass, while the Martini should be like a still lake.”

Capacity: 1 to 2 drinks | Material: Lead-free crystal | Dishwasher-safe: No

Best Splurge: Bull in China "The Flagship" 650 mL Mixing Glass

Bull in China "The Flagship" 650ml Mixing Glass

Courtesy of Etsy

Pros
  • Handmade

  • Visually stunning

  • High-quality

Cons
  • Pricey

This stunning, handmade mixing glass is a go-to for Stephen Kurpinsky, the U.S. brand ambassador for Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur. This is certainly an investment piece, but a worthy one if you’re serious about your drinks.

Kurpinsky offers a few tips for making the most of your purchase: “I always start with a frozen mixing glass, as well as chilled glassware. It's also best to use ice as cold as possible, fresh from the freezer, protected from odors or taste contamination with whatever might be in your freezer.

“I prefer to use larger ice cubes with a larger surface area, or large cubes that are broken into pieces to expose the coldest center of the ice cubes. Also, you should fill the mixing glass to the top with ice before stirring—not having enough ice will make it hard to get optimum dilution.”

Capacity: 1 to 3 drinks | Material: Glass | Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Related: The Best Cocktail Mixers

Best Custom: Amehla Co. Handblown Seamless Plain Cocktail Mixing Glass

Amehla Cocktailery Hand-Blown Seamless Mixing Glass, Plain Design

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Heavy base

  • Handmade

  • Seamless

  • Customizable

Cons
  • Slightly fragile

While the classic Yarai pattern has its distinct charm, some prefer a more simple design such as this handblown seamless (and rather minimalist) mixing glass by barware brand Amehla Co.

With the hallmark features of any quality mixing glass—a heavy base, good clarity and free of any seams that you’d find on a machine-made piece—and clocking in at less than $20, it’s no wonder that this vessel is an online bestseller.

You can also opt to have your mixing glass engraved, which is always a nice touch, whether it’s a gift or a unique piece for your own collection.

Capacity: 1 to 2 drinks | Material: Lead-free crystal | Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Best Metal: Final Touch Double-Wall Stainless Steel Yarai Mixing Pitcher

Final Touch Double-Walled Stainless Steel Yarai Mixing Pitcher

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Double-walled

  • Durable

  • High-quality

Cons
  • Industrial

According to Naomi Schimek, bar director for Soulmate in Los Angeles, a bartender's goal should be to always serve a cocktail to guests as cold as is scientifically possible. "It’s all about using a vessel that will either contribute the most thermal energy to the cocktail as it is being created or pull the least amount from it,” she explains.

“Currently, I’m using a stainless-steel, double-walled mixing tin created in the image of a glass Yarai. Another plus is that these do not break, [whereas] Yarai-type mixing glassware inevitably will in a high-volume bar, and it can get pricey replacing them,” says Schimek.

Capacity: 1 to 2 drinks | Material: Stainless steel | Dishwasher-safe: Yes (top rack)

Related: The Best Cocktail Glasses

Best Decorative: Cocktail Kingdom Berry Wall Footed Mixing Glass

David Wondrich Classic Collection Berry Wall Footed Mixing Glass, Rose

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Unique

  • High-quality

  • Great for hosting

Cons
  • Pricey

  • Somewhat fragile

The term “conversation piece” hardly does justice to this stunning rose-tinted and footed mixing glass by cocktail legend David Wondrich, an exclusive piece for Cocktail Kingdom.

This is the kind of mixing glass you keep on display when not in use, ready to bust out for presentation when hosting or simply when you feel like stirring yourself a drink or two. (The glass can hold up to two drinks at a time.) Named for 19th-century socialite and cocktail enthusiast Evander Berry Wall, stirred cocktails don’t get much more fabulous than this.

Capacity: 1 to 2 drinks | Material: Lead-free crystal | Dishwasher-safe: No

Related: The Best Bar Sets

Best Set: Estelle Colored Glass Handblown Rocks Glasses, Set of 2

Estelle Colored Glass Hand-Blown Rocks Glasses

Courtesy of Food52

Pros
  • Sturdy

  • Handmade

  • Visually appealing

  • Multipurpose

Cons
  • Pricey

For those who prefer to keep things simple (but visually appealing), it’s entirely possible to get away with stirring certain cocktails directly in a nice, solid rocks glass, skipping the middleman altogether.

“If I’m making [simple classics] like a Negroni or Old Fashioned, I’ll honestly just build them in the glass they’re being served in and stir it down from there,” says Forest. Artisanal glassware company Estelle Colored Glass is quickly becoming a cult favorite among drinks professionals and enthusiasts, and investing in high-quality rocks glasses is worth every penny.

This set is handblown in Poland, with each glass featuring a nicely weighted base and an ultra-fine rim.

Capacity: 1 drink each | Material: Glass | Dishwasher-safe: No

Related: The Best Gifts for Cocktail Lovers

Final Verdict

Our pick for the best overall cocktail glass is Cocktail Kingdom’s classic Yarai mixing glass (view at Amazon): It's somewhat of a benchmark in the bartending industry, thanks to its quality, look and feel—and the fact that this piece has the Cocktail Kingdom name behind it. Cocktail Kingdom truly is a beacon for pro bartenders and is backed by some of the most legendary names in drinks, such as David Wondrich, Audrey Saunders, the late and great Gary “Gaz” Regan and many more.

What to Look for in a Cocktail Mixing Glass

Type

The ideal mixing glass depends on its main intended use. If you’re working in a high-volume cocktail bar, then a metal vessel might be the best option given its durability and ability to chill drinks more quickly than glass. Glass vessels are more classic, nostalgic and objectively nicer to look at. They also tend to feature a weighted base, which prevents the vessel from tipping over during use; these work well in cocktail bars, high-volume or not, but the risk of breaking (no matter how thick the glass) is greater than that of a metal stirring vessel. This, in turn, means more money spent to buy replacements. Home bartenders, though, can get away with either style—it just comes down to personal preference.

Design

Most cocktail mixing glasses are cylindrical in shape, though old-school styles are footed, with a more rounded bowl atop a stemmed pedestal. The latter is an elegant way to serve stirred drinks and can easily blend into your décor when not in use, but it safe to say that the classic and more standard cylinder shape is a bit more practical for everyday use.

Features

In general, mixing vessels are relatively straightforward—there's not a whole lot of room for frills, so when it comes to features, there are only a few main things to consider. For example, what is a mixing vessel made of and how durable does that make it? Is it etched with a design or is it on the minimalist side? If it’s metal, is it insulated with double walls? Can it be put in the dishwasher? If it helps, ask yourself these questions and list out your non-negotiables before shopping.

FAQs

Can I muddle ingredients in a cocktail mixing glass?

Technically, yes—however not many stirred drinks call for any ingredients to be muddled (don’t let the ‘80s fool you). There is one exception, however: the Wisconsin Old Fashioned, although this cocktail can easily be made directly in your glass.

Can mixing glasses be used for hot liquids?

This depends entirely on the material. However, there really aren’t any obvious scenarios in which you’d be using hot liquids to make stirred drinks, because the main point of stirring a cocktail is to chill and dilute. If you’re interested in making, say, a Hot Toddy, you can do so directly in the mug you’ll be sipping it from. Or, if you really want to get fancy, go ahead and dust off that old slow cooker.

How do I best clean a cocktail mixing glass?

Before you purchase a mixing vessel, be sure to check if it’s a dishwasher-safe piece. This will dictate whether you should clean it by hand or place it in the dishwasher. If your mixing vessel is dishwasher-safe, it’s generally a good idea to place it on the top rack only.

Why Trust Liquor.com?

Céline Bossart is a veteran wine, spirits and cocktail writer based in New York. Over the years, her glassware and barware collections have gotten somewhat out of control, and she’s seen it all. Generally, you can find her stirring drinks in a plain, generously sized mixing glass, which she also enjoys using as a vase on occasion.

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