The Basics History & Trends

9 Clever and Sometimes Over-the-Top Cocktail Glasses Being Used Around the Country

Get your camera ready for these creative vessels.

Loaded to the Gunwalls cocktail at The Aviary.
Loaded to the Gunwalls at The Aviary in Chicago. Image: The Aviary

When is a glass more than just a glass? When it’s popping with personality and can draw attention from across the room—and across the country. You drink with your eyes, first. And creative drinking vessels have grown ever more elaborate in recent years, making for a cocktail experience that’s sometimes silly but always memorable. These are nine of the wackiest cocktail vessels found in bars around the U.S.

  • Ay, Chihuahua (701West, New York)

    ay, chihuahua cocktail

    Evan Sung

    Presented on a bed of wheatgrass and edible flowers, this glass squash holds Salvatore Tafuri’s refined take on a Spicy Margarita. Tinged with shishito pepper syrup and a dropper of jalapeño tincture, its base is long-aged Don Julio 1942 tequila. It’s almost too pretty to drink, but you’ll push forward to sample the contents within.

  • Den After Dark (Sycamore Den, San Diego)

    den after dark cocktail
    Arlene Ibarra

    We wouldn’t recommend drinking from just any lamp—certainly not the one sitting on your desk—but the globe-shaped lamp used at Sycamore Den is specially designed for this purpose. It even has four portholes to hold multicolored Pyrex straws, which means you can share the cocktail with one-to-three friends. The drink inside was created by Jesse Ross, and it brings together fresh tangerine and lime juices, clove syrup, Jägermeister and vodka.

  • Gummi Bear (Second Best, Detroit)

    gummi bear cocktail at Second Best

    Second Best

    Will Lee, the beverage director of Second Best and Grey Ghost in Detroit, was inspired by dive bar shots when creating this fruity concoction. He starts with a house-made raspberry-infused vodka, then mixes in peach schnapps, citrus and 7Up and serves it over pebbled ice in a honey bear. The only question is if you should hug it or drink it. Though no one said you can’t do both.

  • If Can, Can (Trailblazer Tavern, San Francisco)

    If Can, Can cocktail

    Trailblazer Tavern

    At Trailblazer Tavern in San Francisco’s Salesforce Building, the SPAM for musubi is made in-house. But the restaurant pays cheeky homage to the Hawaiian classic in the form of a refreshing drink created by Brian Means and served in a SPAM can at happy hour. Featuring rum, lime, pineapple and orgeat, its hits all the right tropical notes—and no, it doesn't contain any pork products.

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  • Loaded to the Gunwalls (The Aviary, Chicago)

    Loaded to the Gunwalls cocktail

    The Aviary 

    Is it a cocktail? A ship in a bottle? At The Aviary, it’s both, with a dramatic presentation to match the vessel. The drink brings together house-made hazelnut orgeat with Batavia arrack, bitters, pineapple and lime. Before pouring out the bottle’s contents, the server sprays a rum-and-mace tincture through a candle flame onto the ceramic serving cup. The fun, fiery presentation isn’t just for show—it imbues your cocktail with fiery aromatics as you sip.

  • Mule (Roof at Park South, New York)

    mule cocktail at roof at park south
    Will Engelmann

    Rafa García Febles takes this spin on the Moscow Mule literally. He concocts the drink, made with turmeric-infused vodka, ginger liqueur, demerara syrup, lime and ginger beer, in a white ceramic mule garnished with a flower. The sturdy vessel houses enough liquid to serve four people.

  • Pickleback (The Cottonmouth Club, Houston)

    pickleback cocktail at cottonmouth club
    Hunter Klaus

    The method here is “shoot-shoot-chomp,” says Michael Neff, bar director of The Cottonmouth Club. You start with a shot of Slane Irish whiskey, and then chase it with a dram of dill pickle juice served in a hollowed-out pickle. So, this Pickleback is part drink, part snack. “It definitely has its own fan club at this point,” says Neff.

  • Studio 54 (Canon, Seattle)

    studio 54 cocktail at Canon
    Jamie Boudreau

    Jamie Boudreau often starts with the vessel, not the recipe, when crafting drinks for his iconic Seattle bar Canon. He says he just “scours the web looking for unusual items that could hold liquids.” Here, a disco ball is filled with dark rum, cherry cola, falernum and lime, plus a heavy dose of Angostura bitters. Because nothing signals the start of a good party like a disco ball ... that's filled with rum.

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  • The Waterbury Royale (Freehold, New York City)

    waterbury royale cocktail
    Danielle Bohy

    Sure, you’ve shared a punch bowl. But what about a swan? At Freehold in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, this large-format drink, created by Brad Gallagher and Brice Jones, refreshes a crowd, bringing together fresh watermelon juice, lime, sparkling wine and vodka. For a bit of extra fun, it’s garnished with watermelon Sour Patch Kids in addition to lime wedges.