, , , , , ,

With the Holiday Season upon us, parties abound.  As such, I feel that it is time for me to weigh in on a topic that is very important to me…

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you’ll have run across a recipe or two.  If you’ve read any of those recipes, you’ll recognize this line:

Shake until your hands hurt from the cold, then shake ten seconds longer.

Why do I put that into every recipe?  Because a properly chilled cocktail is a thing of beauty.  The ice imparts its own affect on whole cocktail experience.


A true lady knows how to hold a cocktail glass.

A true lady knows how to hold a cocktail glass.

The cocktail glass -no, stemware in general was designed specifically so that the drinker could control their cocktail without heating up its contents.

This lady to the left knows that the stem exists for just that reason.

The stem is your friend.  Do not fear the stem.  Yes, it can seem rather intimidating… such a small slender device to hold up such precious cargo, but hey: your neck is too!

I’m not begging you to use the stem of the glass, I’m telling you:

Unless you intend on slamming back that cocktail like a tequila shot, using the stem will prolong the cocktail’s drinkability.

No, James! NO!

Super spy, and NOVICE drinker James Bond shows how to NOT hold an ice cold Martini.

The best example I can think of is my Portland Polar Bear. This aperitif, and most like it, *DEMANDS* to be served COLD.  Ice cold.  Once the chill is off this drink, it loses its grip with mood & purpose, and becomes some sort of strange alcoholic soup.

Now, some drinks can be re-shaken if they approach unpalatable temperatures, but again: you can stave off re-shaking by simply using the tool that was built into the glass: ITS STEM!

This trend of holding cocktails incorrectly has been growing for many years.  I did a quick search and found several posts by other authors about the EVILS of holding a cocktail glass by its bowl. (There’s even a how-to on WikiHow!)  And TV & Pop Culture don’t help matters any by constantly showing us images of novice cocktailians gripping glasses like drunken chimpanzees.

Now then, observe Figure A:

Figure A: Stemware

Figure A: Stemware

From left to right, pictured above are the following:
Brandy Snifter, Aperitif, Cocktail (Martini), Champagne Coup (Original Cocktail), Beer Goblet, White Wine Glass, Champagne Flute

These all have stems.  Please use the stem when holding the glass.

BUT WAIT!  One of these things is not like the others!  One of these glasses was designed with a stem but is NOT meant to be held by the stem! Which is it?  Which glass was designed to force you to hold it by the bowl?


The right glass for the right beverage!

The right glass for the right beverage!

If you said “Brandy Snifter” then you are correct!

The stem of the Brandy Snifter is just tall enough for you to slip your fingers around it and cup the bowl with your fingers and palm.  Brandy, Cognac, and Armagnac are meant to be consumed warm, so, naturally, the stemware for sipping them was designed to force you to hold the bowl; using your body heat to keep the liquor warm.

No other stemware is designed like this, and with good reason!

In summary:

Don’t be an uncultured sheep by following the “Hollywood” trend of holding a cocktail incorrectly and ruining your beverage.  Be a civilized cocktailian and enjoy your evening and your cocktail.

Don’t be like this guy:

How Not to Hold a Cocktail