A Touch of Glass

People enjoy whiskey at host of different ways. Some like it neat, some with a little ice, or mixed in a cocktail (check out my blog post on the different ways to drink whiskey).   No matter how you like it there is a glass for the method of choice. I am only going to explore a few of those glasses today.

The Glencairn whisky glass is a style of glass developed by Glencairn Crystal in Scotland for drinking whisky (in Scotland it is whisky without the “e”). The glass has a capacity of over 5 ounces but it was designed to hold 1.5-2 ounces of whisky or bourbon. The glass was designed to give you the maximum aroma from the spirit you are drinking. You will find these for sale at many of the distilleries with their logos engraved in the glass. They can also be found at most nicer liquor stores like Hi-Times, Bev-Mo, and Total Wine. Amazon even has a selection of them.

Glencarin 1

I enjoy tasting bourbon neat in Glencarin glasses. They aren’t really sized for any ice in them. What I like most about Glencairn glasses is how light and smooth the glass is. It really helps to get the full aroma of the whisky I’m tasting.

The next glass I want to discuss is the traditional style whiskey glass, an Old Fashioned tumbler. This is a glass you see in every bar. They come in a variety of sizes. The first one I have pictured I bought at Old Pogue Distillery. It is a standard smaller size old fashioned glass that they had their logo engraved on. You can find similar glasses (without the engraving) at a lot of home stores with a barware selection. The real advantage of this size and style over the Glencarin glass is you can add a small amount of ice, or whiskey stones to open up your whiskey. I will sometimes start a new bourbon neat and then add a very small ice cube to open it up and change the experience.

Old Pogue Glass

The next glass is my favorite. A Rogaska mouth blown, hand cut and polished by an expert craftsman, crystal rocks glass. I like this glass because first of all its very pretty, and very heavy. It has the feel and look of quality. It will hold the large round ice cubes, or big square cubes. You can drink neat out of this glass but it has such a large opening you lose a lot of the nose. This type of glass is great for cocktails as it holds a lot of liquid. I use it to make our Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. These glasses are available at Bloomingdales for $60.00 a pair.

Old Fashioned

It would take volumes to discuss all the glasses designed to hold mixed drinks. As anyone who follows my blog knows, horse racing season and Mint Juleps are upon us. There are 2 main ways to drink a mint julep: the traditional silver julep Cup or the Libby glass mint julep tumbler. But I will go into more detail in April about Mint Juleps, specialty cocktails, and Kentucky in the spring.

Mint Julep

There are a ton of great options out there for enjoying your bourbon (or whiskey in general). You can find old fashioned glasses and other fun barware at just about any home store these days. You will find just as there are, “Different horses for different courses,” there are also “Different glasses for different bashes” (made that up – not sure I’ll use it again).

Guest Post: Decking out the bar

It’s Taylor – back again today with another guest post. Today I’m talking about decking out your home bar. We love to entertain, and so does Bourbon Bill and mom. Having a great bar set up is key to easy entertaining and also being the ultimate host.

If you’re lucky enough to have a built in bar, I am very jealous! That is on the top of my wish list. Storage space is a premium at our house and somehow we have managed to squeeze way too many bourbons on our kitchen counter, and a ton of different bar essentials in cabinets.

So what are the essentials for your home bar? Besides bourbon, that is…

Bar Glasses
I’m dividing these into two categories, fancy and casual. Fancy are those you bring out on a special occasion, and casual are those that are dishwasher safe and you’re ok with guests taking outside.

Casual Glasses: Just because they’re dishwasher safe doesn’t mean they can’t be fun! We have a set of monogrammed highballs and double old-fashioned glasses that come out on weeknights, for dinner parties, or when friends are just over hanging out.

  1. Ours are from Williams-Sonoma and have a nice heavy bottom. But there are so many fun options out there!
  2. I love these simple, trendy glasses from West Elm that are super affordable. They also have a ton of other really fun options. I personally prefer something simple that will go with any setting.
  3. Waiting on Martha always has some really unique bar essentials. How cool are these highballs?
  4. Juliska makes some really pretty bar glasses that are safe for everyday use. How fun would it be to use these on a regular basis?

Fancy Glasses: No joke, Carter’s favorite item on our wedding registry were his crystal bar glasses. And it’s not surprising to come home and find him drinking bourbon out of Waterford Crystal on a random Tuesday night. There is just something about dressing it up a little bit every once in a while. Having a nice set of bar glasses really steps up special occasions, holidays, and more.

  1. We love our Waterford Lismore bar glasses. They’re timeless, the pattern has been around forever. Waterford makes crystal glasses in a number of other patterns if you want something a little less popular.
  2. William Yeoward makes some beautiful crystal barware. The Elizabeth pattern is my favorite.
  3. Another tried and true crystal maker is Baccarat. How elegant are these bar glasses!

Wine Glasses

Since this is a blog about bourbon, I won’t go into too much detail about wine glasses. But these are definitely an essential part of any fully stocked bar. We have “fancy” and “casual” wine glasses. My suggestion is to get the same style for red and white wine. If you are going to do stemmed water glasses, I would get something that matches as well. That way when you set your table for a dinner party, everything matches. Here’s a quick rundown of good wine glass options.

  1. We have the Riedel Vinum wine glasses and LOVE them. They’re thin and big and great to drink out of. The only problem is they are technically crystal and break easily in the dishwasher so I find myself hand washing them if the dishwasher is getting full. We also have a set of Riedel O stemless wine glasses. I’m not the biggest stemless fan, but they’re good to have.
  2. Crystal wine glasses are key to a special occasion. We have the Waterford Lismore Essence wine glasses to match our bar glasses. We went with the Lismore Essence style because they’re more modern than the original Lismore. Again, these are a favorite of Carter’s.
  3. I love the shape of these Crate & Barrel wine glasses. They’re so unique. A friend has these and I love drinking wine out of them at her house!
  4. Pottery Barn makes a great set of wine glasses for dinner parties called Caterers. Their Caterers boxed sets are great basics for dinner parties, large gatherings, or to just have a great basic set of plates, glasses, etc on hand.


Decanters are a really impressive way to display liquor. We have collected a bunch of different decanters and keep one brand of vodka, whiskey and gin in them. I personally love vintage decanters, but this is another area to really express your personality and style for your bar.

  1. Really sleek crystal decanter from Tiffany – would be great in a library or man cave!
  2. Pretty vintage etched decanter from Williams-Sonoma
  3. Love the unique shape of this decanter from Crate & Barrel

Cocktail Napkins

These are by no means an actual bar essential, but are such a fun addition to any bar! I have a slight obsession with napkins. We have a napkin holder that sits on our counter that I rotate season paper cocktail napkins in and out of. I love these from Caspari for spring. Lettermade and Biscuit Home have some really clever linen napkins. Lettermade also has some great options for monogrammed napkins. Coasters are another great addition. These letterpressed drink recipe coasters from Haute Papier are so fun (you can also get custom coasters through them)!

Bar Tools

Every bar needs some essential bar tools. This is still a work in progress at our house. I prefer to buy bar tools individually, rather than in a set, so that you can pick out the best for each type of tool. Bourbon Bill has just about every bar tool imaginable, including multiples of some. Below are what I consider the essentials.

  1. Ice cube molds – Square: big ice cubes are in. They don’t water down your drinks as quickly as normal ice cubes. And they’re just so trendy. Tevolo now makes them in two sizes. At least start with the big ones.
  2. Ice cube molds – Round: for when square just won’t do.
  3. Cocktail Spoon: This is a tool still missing from our bar tools, but so essential for making cocktails. Break this out for your next Old Fashioned. I like the simplicity (and price) of this spoon.
  4. Cocktail Shaker: This is where you can really express some personality. We have a monogrammed cocktail shaker. I LOVE this gold shaker from West Elm. Or you could be super farm to table and get a mason jar cocktail shaker.
  5. Strainer: To me, this is just a utility tool. I would go with simple and easy to clean like this OXO strainer.
  6. Muddler: You have to get a wood muddler. Similar to the cocktail spoon, it’s essential. And why not have something unique for making mojitos and other muddled drinks?
  7. Peeler(s): Bourbon Bill is left handed so using a straight peeler made making perfect orange slices difficult for him. This one did the trick. This zester from Sur La Table is great for making thin strips.
  8. Jigger: This is just another utility tool in my opinion, so practical is key. I like this one from OXO because it has multiple measurements.
  9. Beaker: If you really want to look like you know what you’re doing behind the bar, a beaker/mixing glass is a great addition.
  10. Ice Scoop: Bourbon Bill got us this great ice scoop a couple years ago. I like it because it has holes so that you don’t water down your drink with melted ice.
  11. Ice Bucket: Key if you’re setting up a bar away from the refrigerator.  There are so many options out there. Go with something that matches your style. We have a simple glass ice bucket, and my mom recently gave us a leather one (now, if only I had a library to keep the leather ice bucket with leather bound books). I love this copper ice bucket from Williams-Sonoma – copper is so popular right now!