The 10 Best Old Fashioned Glasses, According to Whiskey Experts

From sleek and sculptural to vintage, our favorite picks come recommended by industry pros.

Regan is a freelance journalist with 10 years of experience writing about food, drinks, travel, and culture. Scaffolding Wheel

The 10 Best Old Fashioned Glasses, According to Whiskey Experts

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Made with a muddled sugar cube, a dash of bitters, and a shot of whiskey, the old fashioned cocktail is a pillar in the world of classic drinks — as popular today as it was when it was first developed in the 19th century. "The old fashioned embodies the definition of a cocktail: spirit, bitters, sugar, and water," says Lynn House, the spirits and cocktail educator for Heaven Hill Distillery and host of Elijah Craig's Old Fashioned Week.

Also important to get right: the glassware. The old fashioned glass, also known as a lowball or rocks glass, typically has a wide brim and a base that's weighty enough to stand up to muddling sugar as you build your whiskey cocktail. "Nothing beats the standard rocks glass," says David Vitale, founder of Melbourne-made Starward Whisky. "I like it flat-bottomed and lightweight, large enough for a single crystal-clear ice cube."

Still, bar and spirit industry professionals have a range of opinions on what makes a great old fashioned glass, including material, cleaning, and how you plan to use the glasses. From sleek and sculptural to classic crystal with vintage charm, read on for the best old fashioned glasses.

From Spiegleau's Perfect Serve line, the double rocks glass strikes the perfect balance of form and function. Balanced in size and weight, this German-made set is beautiful enough to display on your bar cart and durable enough to keep for years of use. The lead-free crystal is dishwasher-safe (though the brand recommends avoiding harsh detergents and hand-washing for most longevity). Spiegelau is known for centuries of glassware craftsmanship, and this classic style was created with award-winning mixologist Stephan Hinz to serve iconic rocks drinks, from old fashioneds to Negronis.

"The glass is elegant and sturdy, which is important for restaurants," says Dawn Trabing, the beverage director for Four Seasons Philadelphia Hotel. Trabing and her team use the line at Jean-Georges, on the hotel's 59th floor, after building the cocktail in crystal cocktail mixing glasses.

The Godinger double old fashioned glasses may be on the heavy side, says Indy Acevedo-Fowler, lead mixologist at Elm & Good in Dallas, "but I love the feel of the weight and the ridges of the crystal." Besides its aesthetics, she notes the thick base keeps the drink cold longer, and "the wide-brimmed glass allows the best of an old fashioned cocktail's ingredients to have their shine."

A hefty ice cube fits perfectly in these 11-ounce glasses, and a cocktail pick will rest on the edge just right. Plus, we like that you can pop these glasses in the freezer to best appreciate how a drink changes.

When it comes to glassware for her home bar, Lynn House loves using thrifted finds. "You can find the most amazing treasures," says the Heaven Hill Distillery spirits and cocktail educator. "However, if you are feeling swanky, I highly recommend Schott Zwiesel for glassware."

The German glassware maker's Pure line is one of the most popular with bar and restaurant pros. Schott Zwiesel uses a patented material called Tritan glass, which makes their products, including some of the best wine glasses available, break- and scratch-resistant.

Brendan Bartley of New York City's Bathtub Gin Speakeasy calls Riedel's entire Drink Specific line, designed in collaboration with spirits specialist Zane Harris, "one of the most bartender-friendly glassware selections." The rocks glass, in particular, is a favorite for serving an old fashioned. Among Bartley's reasons for loving this glass is its wide opening that seamlessly fits 2-inch ice cubes, its substantial weight, and "an indented etching that precisely marks pours for faster and convenient measuring," he says.

This dishwasher-safe line of stackable glassware includes seven different types of glasses, each designed for a different cocktail. Though not the least expensive set on this list, the price is quite good for the quality.

Designed in Istanbul and used at some of the world's swankiest restaurants and bars, Nude glass is handmade with beautiful simplicity in mind. "This is the perfect glass to drink an old fashioned from because it's lightweight but incredibly durable," says Adam Montgomerie, bar manager at New York's Hawksmoor.

The delicate glass also feels nice in your hand, which is "an underrated quality when it comes to glassware," says Montgomerie. "It can hold a large hand-cut piece of ice really nicely and a generous pour of an old fashioned at the same time."

Sleek glass anchored by a weighty base makes the Stolzle Lausitz New York Bar Rocks Glass another popular and durable pick among bar industry professionals. This glass is sturdy enough to cheer friends with and store in the freezer, and it's also wide enough to hold one large piece of quality ice to slow dilution and release the aroma of the cocktail. These durable glasses also stand up to whiskey stones and dishwasher cleaning, as well.

The versatility and design of the Italian glassware brand prompted Neal Bodenheimer to use it in his new cocktail book, Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em. The managing partner of CureCo. in New Orleans and partner of Dauphine's in Washington, D.C., is specifically drawn to the Este tumbler in Bormioli Rocco's bartender series. The glass is available in both 13.25 and 10.25-ounce sizes. "It is nice to have a size option in this style of glass because you need different capacities based on ice type or if you're foregoing ice for a neat pour or Sazerac," he says.

Other perks of the glass, according to Boden, include its weight and versatile design. "The etching style is really adaptable with different types of ice because there is a circular shape and a square shape, so a big cube, an ice ball, or normal cubes of ice look right at home," he says. "The weight is really nice, as well, substantial without being cumbersome."

"When it comes to old fashioneds, the glass can sometimes be as relevant to the drink as the liquid inside it," says Jessica King of Brother Wolf in Knoxville. The Italian Aperitivo bar stocks a small collection of antique cut crystal glassware that we reserve for their favorite drinks (and favorite guests), and King herself collects vintage glassware.

Besides offering more insulation for a slower dilution of ice, "each glass has its own personality," she says. "The shape, cut, and thickness of the bowl of the glass may provide added sensory experience when enjoying the subtle nuances of a drink." The Markham pattern from Waterford's Marquis collection channels the vintage vibe with the sophistication you expect from the iconic crystal brand. Now, all you'll need is a matching crystal whiskey decanter to add to your spirits library.

Chris Morris, a master distiller at Woodford Reserve, prefers the same style of glass used at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, which has a long history with the cocktail. Though this style of glass isn't as popular these days, according to Morris, he prefers a smaller 4-ounce glass, because "an old fashioned calls for two ounces of Woodford Reserve bourbon and one ounce of water, so it doesn't require a large glass, which would get filled with a lot of ice."

Inspired by the storied New York City hotel bar and featuring a light-catching quilted design, these lead-free cut crystal glasses look classic. "Vintage cocktails, modern twists, and neat pours will look stunning in these glasses with a speakeasy vibe," says Fitz Bailey, mixologist for Coopers' Craft Bourbon. Plus, he says, "coming in at a pound of crystal, your drink won't be going anywhere without you."

When shopping for old fashioned glasses, it really comes down to personal preference. Glass or crystal? Weighty or slim? Etched or smooth and sleek? But for a true classic that will stand up to years of muddling and sipping old fashioneds, our pick is the Spiegelau Perfect Serve Double old fashioned Glasses. Made with lead-free crystal, the glasses from the 500-year-old German brand are made to last and just look stylish in your hand.

Most old fashioned glasses are made with glass, crystal, or lead-free crystal. The latter is harder and more durable than glass, so it withstands etching and engraving embellishments. It also refracts the light beautifully and is typically more expensive than glass.

Consider when and how you'll be using them. Do you own whiskey glasses already, or not? Are they for special occasions only, pulled off the shelves when entertaining? Or, in a pinch, will they be subbed in for drinking glasses? Crystal can be made into thinner vessels than glass while maintaining durability, but daily use can take its toll on paper-thin glasses, not to mention most crystal has to be hand washed.

If you're reserving the glasses for cocktails only, consider if you'll be building the drink in the glass or in a cocktail shaker. Traditionally, old fashioneds are built in the cocktail glass, since the thick base stands up to the muddling. Finally, consider the glass size: either a single, which holds six to eight ounces, or a double, which holds 12 to 14 ounces.

Most of our experts' picks are dishwasher safe, but glasses made with crystal usually require hand-washing since the material is too porous for the dishwasher. Glasses with gold or silver trim or other embellishments, as well as vintage barware, also usually require hand-washing, as the detergent and heat from the dishwasher can be too harsh for delicate pieces.

Regan Stephens is a Philadelphia-based writer and editor who has worked for nearly two decades in digital and print magazine production. She's worked on staff at People, Teen People, and Philadelphia magazines, and her writing has appeared in publications like Travel + Leisure, Fortune, and Conde Nast Traveler. She has contributed to Food & Wine for the last five years.

For this article, Regan interviewed more than a dozen bartenders, distillers, and bar experts about what glasses they use and love, and what makes them great.

The 10 Best Old Fashioned Glasses, According to Whiskey Experts

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