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Cognac is a way of life. For some, it’s a sensory experience designed to be savored, and for others, it represents a more social setting, from toasting to a night out or hosting friends for cocktails. In short, there’s no wrong way to drink cognac, but having the right glass can help make the experience that much better.
Contrary to popular belief, bartenders and other industry pros aren’t necessarily glued to the standard rules of drinking, and cognac is no exception. “I think the more we think about cognac as a beverage, the less we have to restrict the glass or how we enjoy it,” says Ezra Star, a cognac educator for the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC). For sipping cognac neat, Star notes that tulip glasses are generally ideal, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to how you like it. “A nice VS or VSOP with some ice in a rocks glass is wonderful.” Here are our top glassware picks for every cognac drinker.
Best Overall: Stolzle 6.5 Ounce Euro Brandy Glass, Set of 6
Industry vet and cognac expert Ms. Franky Marshall backs Star’s tulip glass recommendation, recommending this six-pack of elegant, fire-tempered glasses by Stolzle.
“I love these tulip glasses for tasting and enjoying—the shape helps to concentrate the aromas and eases them gently upwards towards the nose,” she tells Liquor.com. “The stem makes them easier to hold and to roll the liquid to observe [its] characteristics, as opposed to other glasses with a similar body but no stem.”
Best Budget: World Market 5.5 Ounce Brandy Glasses, Set of 4
These simple, affordable World Market brandy glasses are perfect for the casual cognac drinker who enjoys the occasional mental vacation to a nice little bistro in Paris. If you’re not too concerned with the technical aspects of sipping cognac neat, these old school glasses are a no-brainer, especially at such an affordable price point. If you’re stocking up for an event or gathering, this is the way to go.
Best Splurge: Lalique x James Suckling 100 Points Cognac Glass
Handmade from fine crystal
The name of this cognac glass says it all—a collaboration between legendary crystal house Lalique and world-renowned wine critic James Suckling, the 100 Points Cognac Glass features a gently-sloped U-shape bowl and delicately frosted ribbing on the elongated teardrop stem.
With a 180-milliliter (6.1-ounce) capacity, Suckling’s unique design is a perfect size and shape for a standard nip. These extremely special glasses are made by hand in France and are excellent for enjoying that rare older cognac you’ve been hanging onto.
Related: The Best Whiskey Glasses
Most Durable: Luigi Bormioli Vinoteque 5.75 Ounce Snifter, Set of 6
Italian glassware brand Luigi Bormioli is a go-to for many wine and spirits professionals (myself included) for several reasons—across the board, these glasses are not only beautiful but are also incredibly durable and are made to maintain their clarity for years and years.
According to LaShan Arceneaux, founder of artisanal cocktail supply Three Lumps of Sugar, Luigi Bormioli’s 5.75-ounce tasting glass is one of the best on the market for cognac lovers. “Of all the glasses [I’ve tried], I've loved the shape and stem on this one the best. And they are pretty sturdy,” she shares.
Best Snifter: Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Glass Mondial Stemware Collection 17.3 Ounce Brandy Snifter
Visible seam between stem and bowl
The classic brandy snifter gets a modern update with Schott Zwiesel’s Mondial collection, known for its clean lines and extreme durability thanks to Tritan crystal, a lead-free patented material made up of titanium and zirconium oxide. These chip- and scratch-resistant brandy snifters are designed for everyday use and can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher—they’ll even maintain their clarity and sparkle through countless cycles. For those who appreciate a roomier snifter and enjoy a nightly (or daily) nip, the Mondial brandy glasses are always a solid choice.
Related: The Best Martini Glasses
Best Rocks Glass: Libbey 13.25 Ounce Café Rocks Glass, Set of 8
There’s certainly an appeal to nice, solid heavyweight rocks glasses, but don’t overlook a good set of bodega glasses for your spirits, wines, water, or anything else potable, for that matter.
Perfect for cognac drinkers who love to add ice and/or a splash of ginger ale, as the French are (often) known to do, these minimalist double rocks glasses mirror the delicate florality of many younger cognacs, no matter how you choose to drink yours. Libbey’s bodega-style glasses are particularly convenient for tight cabinet space as they can easily be stacked for storage.
Best Tulip Glass: Riedel Veritas 5.3 Ounce Spirits Glasses, Set of 2
Riedel is a long-trusted name in glassware, and the brand’s Veritas collection is especially noteworthy—machine-blown from ultra-lightweight crystal, the Riedel Veritas spirits glasses feel luxurious on the lips and are stunning to look at, to boot.
This particular tasting glass is designed for cognac and also works well for a handful of other spirits, such as grappa, calvados, younger Armagnacs, and various single malt and blended whiskies. A two-pack of Riedel Veritas spirits glasses makes an excellent gift for spirits lovers on any occasion.
Related: The Best Highball Glasses
Best Set: Barski 11 Ounce Handcrafted Crystal Snifters, Set of 6
Comes in gift box
If you’re looking for an elegant set of snifters large enough to hold a generously sized cube, look no further than Barski’s stunningly etched oversized snifters. These balloon-esque stemmed spirits glasses work well for a variety of spirits and digestifs outside of cognac (ice or no ice), and to sweeten the deal even further, each glass makes an incredible display piece whether atop your bar cabinet or as a part of a tablescape. Best of all, this set of six snifters comes in a gift box, which is always a plus whether you’re buying for yourself or someone else.
We love a classic tulip glass for those moments that call for serious appreciation of a cognac or other brandy—plus, given Marshall’s extensive experience in the business, we’re inclined to follow her lead. A fine rim is always a desirable quality in stemware, so this certainly adds to the Stolzle Euro (view at Webstaurant Store) brandy glasses’ charm, as does the affordable price tag. A classic and well-made snifter, such as Barski’s handmade crystal stemmed brandy glasses (view at Amazon), can also make for a great tasting experience. Really, it all comes down to your personal preference and the degree of technicality in your approach.
What to Look For in a Cognac Glass
If you’re mainly focused on optimizing the aromatics of a cognac or other spirit, a small tulip-shaped glass is the way to go. For those who prefer to add ice to their cognac, whether a few small pieces or a large cube or sphere, a slightly larger and more durable glass, such as a rocks glass or generously-sized snifter, is much more ideal. A good snifter can also help to concentrate a spirit’s aromas while also providing increased surface area at the widest point of the bowl, which allows volatile characteristics to evaporate and become less harsh—these come in many different sizes.
Technically, crystal isn’t actually crystal unless it contains a bit of lead. Leaded crystal will leach lead into alcohol if it is exposed to it for extended periods of time, e.g. storing a spirit in a lead crystal decanter, but it’s highly unlikely that lead in a glass will have any effect on a liquid that’s served in it for sipping purposes. Lead-free crystal is actually just a form of glass, though it can offer relatively similar clarity and brilliance to true crystal. If you want to err on the side of caution, opt for a lead-free glass, by all means!
Tulip-shaped glasses are designed to optimize the tasting experience for many different spirits. Cognac and other brandies included. Snifters are also specifically designed to collect a cognac’s aromas in a way that best represents the spirit with its wide bowl and narrowed mouth. For casual cognac drinkers and cocktail enthusiasts, a simple rocks glass of any shape is always a great option.
On average, how many ounces are in a cognac glass?
If you’re looking at tulip-shaped tasting glasses, these are generally between 5 and 7 ounces, depending on the style and producer. Snifters are often around the same size but can run much bigger than tulip glasses—for example, the Schott Zweisel Mondial brandy snifters top out at 17.3 ounces, which is great for swirling and breathing.
Is this glass good for other drinks/spirits?
Tulip glasses can be quite versatile—try tasting a variety of spirits in yours in order to gauge what works best. If you’re not sure, take a look at the product details, either on or inside the packaging or online. Most often, tasting glasses are designed with specific spirits or styles in mind, which is something to consider as you shop.
If you’re working with a rocks glass, anything goes! This style of glass is incredibly versatile and can be used for neat spirits, spirits on the rocks, cocktails, water, and much more. Snifters are best suited for cognac and other brandies, although they do make a fun vessel for many different cocktails.
Can it fit an ice cube/ball?
If you go with a larger glass, such as a generously-sized snifter, or opt for an alternative style (such as a rocks glass), you’ll most likely be able to fit a larger ice cube or a handful of smaller cubes inside. Tulip glasses, however, are typically meant for sipping spirits neat.
Why Trust Liquor.com
Céline Bossart is a longtime wine and spirits writer who has, over the years, developed a serious appreciation for great glassware. At home, she primarily uses tulip glasses to taste Cognac and other brandies, but she’s not that picky (a rocks glass will do).
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