Glassware: The Bane of Cocktail Hobbyists
I can’t find a whiskey sour glass.
Not that I had ever really paid attention to this sort of thing before, but apparently there is an actual glass (it somewhat resembles a wine glass) for sours. Anyone who has stared at an assortment of, say, wine glasses before knows that different beverages tend to have different shapes, supposedly meant to
a) show off the beverage
b) contain the “proper amount” for that beverage and
c) effect the smell or temperature.
For example, some glasses are designed so that your hand warms the drink (or doesn’t). Something like a brandy snifter is designed so that you stick your nose right into the smell of the beverage to enhance the flavor experience. Which may or may not sound silly but truly does make a difference. If you’re having a drink with Angostura bitters, it can be a radically different experience to have the smell of those spicy bitters stuck in your nose before you’ve even finished sipping. When you sip the Pegu Club Cocktail in the proper glass, the first thing you’ll notice before even the gin is that blast of bitters scent.
As much as I love the Haigh book, it frustratingly doesn’t discuss glassware or barware. Too often I’ve found that if a book does bother with describing glassware at all, it’s fairly minimal (highball, Irish coffee glass, double old-fashioned glass, etc.) with maybe some not-to-scale illustrations and no description of volume. The volume can be the most frustrating of all because if your drink has a non-measured ingredient, the volume of glass you use can make or break it.
Which brings me back to the sour glass. After much research and fussing, I’ve determined that the glass (a tall-stemmed glass with a sort of oval top) should be about 4.5 oz. There’s a certain shape which both the Libbey company and the Internet Cocktail Database confirm but it’s that volume that I’m finding most elusive. That volume is what helps determine how much seltzer you’re using to top your Whiskey Sour off. Really, I could always use another glass and “eyeball it” to determine the proper amount but I suppose at this point it has become the principal of the thing. I’ve come across stemmed cocktail glasses and un-stemmed ones, single malt whiskey glasses and glasses for dutch cordial, about a frillion old champagne glasses and even a Tom & Jerry set but for the life of me I cannot locate a sour glass.
It seems like such an obvious thing, to discuss the glassware that holds the beverages being discussed. Yet, even in discussions of “barware basics” there seems to be something lacking (I’m looking at you, MarthaStewart.com). It’s almost enough to make me long for the days of red plastic cups.