Buying Restaurant Drinkware for Home

Elevate the beverages you enjoy at home with restaurant quality drinkware.  Whether you pour an excellent glass of vintage pinot, mix up a mean batch of margaritas or simply enjoy a refreshing glass of crystal clear Canadian water, don't your liquid masterpieces deserve a worthy presentation? 

Can you buy the same selection of glasses bars and restaurants use?  You bet!  But like dinnerware designed for foodservice, buying restaurant glassware for home is a little different. 

Choosing comes down to material, types, size, quantity and cost. 

Assortment of drinks on table


Drinkware Materials 

When it comes to durability, not all drinkware materials are created equal, especially glassware. Material choice is about form, but also about function and is a key factor in cost. 


Annealed glass is the least expensive of the three most common types of commercial glass. It is designed to withstand sudden temperature changes. But when it does break, it shatters into dangerously sharp shards. 

Fully tempered glass is more expensive, but stronger and less likely to break. When it does, it crumbles into chunks rather than shards. 

Rim-tempered glass falls between the two, both pricewise and in terms of strength, and is a good option if budget is an issue. 

The finest glassware is made of crystal, or increasingly, crystallin, which is made without lead. Crystal is beautiful, clear, delicate and the ideal material for fine wines. 


For casual use, styrene acrylonitrile resin (SAN) is a durable, PBA-free plastic that is dishwasher safe. Polycarbonate is another durable plastic, but can scratch easily and is not recommended for hot beverages. 

With more choices than ever before, the styles, shapes, colours and textures of plastic beverageware has elevated this material choice. Some manufacturers are producing convincing replacements for glass.  Making it an easy decision about safety for outdoor dining, around the patio and pool or serving youngsters. 


Stainless steel, copper and pewter are an increasingly popular choice for serving beverages.  Moscow Mules and Mint Juleps driving the craze.  Many restaurants have taken it a step further and also use these vessels for serving appetizers.  

Available in different colours and finishes, this material is durable but may need to be washed by hand depending on the manufacturer.  

Types of Restaurant Drinkware 

Beverage Glasses 

Every table needs beverage glasses so a variety of capacities and styles are necessary to accommodate water, pop, juice, milk, iced tea and even smoothies. 

The tall, flat-bottomed, smooth-sided tumbler is the workhorse of every kitchen. It is used for everything from water to soda to iced tea. Design is usually simple and materials durable, hard-wearing and affordable. 

Smaller tumblers are ideal for juice—and for little hands. If you enjoy entertaining, you may prefer goblets to serve water instead—the stems add a sense of airiness and elegance to the table. 

Various glasses

Wine Glasses 

There as many shapes and styles of wine glasses as there are types of wine.  Although most people recommend choosing different glassware for red and white wine, there is such a thing as a universal wine glass. Even the famed wine critic Jancis Robinson has designed one. It should have an egg-shaped bowl big enough to enhance wine’s aromas, as well as a stem long enough to grip properly and a nice, smooth lip that doesn’t impede wine flow. 

But if you’re serious about wine, you’ll want to have, at the very least, glasses for red and white wine. Red wine glasses are larger and more bulbous, providing more surface area for the wine to release its complex aromas while gentling alcohol and tannins. White wine glasses are smaller and narrower, concentrating the delicate aromas of most white varietals. 

In addition, you will want to include small glasses for dessert wines, as well as special glasses for sparkling wines. These are typically served in tall, narrow glasses, often called champagne flutes to show off the bubbles, but connoisseurs prefer tulip-shaped white wine glasses, which enhance flavours, or coupes that invoke retro glamour. 

Assortment of wine glasses

Beer Glasses 

The popularity of craft beer has been accompanied by an increase in demand for specialty beer glasses for serving all those ales, lagers, saisons, porters and witbiers. 

If you serve beer, start with a classic pint glass, either a stange, which has a straight edge, or nonic, which has a bulge near the top to improve grip and make them easier to stack. 

Also consider beer goblets, which have short, wide stems and thick walls, and are perfect for heavy Belgian ales and other sipping beers. 

Sturdy beer mugs and steins, meanwhile, are all about presentation. They are functional, too: The thick glass keeps the beer cold and the handle prevents your hand from warming the beer. 

Two other styles to consider are the tulip (also known as a Belgian beer glass), whose curved body and flared rim are versatile enough for everything from IPA to stout, and the tall, tapered pilsner. 

Need more details about shapes and sizes for different types of beer?  Read through our Types of Beer Glasses and Beer Mugs Explained article. 

Line up of different types of drinkware

Bar and Cocktail Glasses 

No part of drinking life is as dependent on stylish glassware as cocktail culture and with that comes bar and cocktail glasses

For many years, drinks served “up” (without ice) were offered in the V-shaped, stemmed Martini glass James Bond made famous. It’s more fashionable now to use the wide, elegantly curved coupe or the smaller, narrower Nick and Nora, named for the main characters of The Thin Man book and movies. 

For straight spirits or cocktails served on ice, you need a rocks glass, lowball, Old Fashioned or double Old Fashioned glasses. It should be wide enough to accommodate today’s bigger ice cubes and spheres. 

Drinks “lengthened” with soda, like the Tom Collins or Paloma, should be served in the tall, narrow Collins or highball glass. You will also need small, flat-bottomed shot glasses for single shots of spirits or mixed shooters. 

There are also many specialty glasses designed for specific drinks, including copper mugs for Moscow Mules, pewter tumblers for mint juleps, tiki mugs for Mai Tais, Margarita glasses for frozen drinks, and glass mugs for specialty coffees. 

Want to learn more?  Check out our Cocktail Glasses Buying Guide.

Variety of drinks in different types of glasses

Restaurant Drinkware Size 

There are two considerations regarding size when you are purchasing drinkware. First is the capacity, or the amount of liquid it will hold. Second is the measurement or physical size of the glass including the diameter and height. 

Capacity is an important consideration and is really about what you are drinking.  Keep in mind, capacity is determined by filling the glass to the rim. A wine glass will always have a capacity much higher than you would ever fill it. Libbey’s Stemless Wine Glass has a capacity of 15 oz but a serving of wine is 5 oz. However, a beer glass you would fill to the rim. Same with water. 

In restaurants and bars, the capacity of the glass is a way to control portions and costs. At home, this is not a concern and therefore the same glass can be used for multiple uses. Hopefully no one at your house would complain if their 16 oz glass is only half full of orange juice.  If you are trying to control portions or at the least keep serving sizes reasonable, having a glass that holds a serving of juice (4 oz) and still looks full is a good strategy. 

Measurements like diameter and height should be considered as it would pertain to your storage and dishwashing. Some residential dishwashers have adjustable height racks, but many don’t. Unless you want to be washing glasses by hand, you better get the measuring tape out before buying. 

Quantity of Restaurant Drinkware 

Be prepared to buy more and not in sets. Drinkware for restaurants is sold by the type of glass and usually a minimum of a dozen at a time. Depending on the manufacturer, some packs might hold as many as 6 dozen. In a restaurant setting, they need to have at least three glasses for every seat in the dining room. makes it easy to determine how many pieces are in a pack with the pack size right in the name of the product in brackets.  Libbey | Cosmopolitan Cocktail Glass, 8 oz (1 DZ)

When you are thinking how many you need, remember to think beyond your everyday use.  Two dozen (or more) may seem too large a quantity to purchase but you may realize that you have more occasions than you think where having more glasses on hand would be helpful. Not to mention reducing the need to use disposable glasses. 

Do you host at least one large family gathering a year? Have an annual New Year’s Day Brunch? Are you on rotation as a location for the wine club to meet? 

Of course, you can always split a large pack of glasses with friends or family. Have extras to give as gifts or use for decoration – depending on size and shape extra glasses could be used as votive holders or vases.  

Cost of Restaurant Drinkware

Cost comes down to material, features and design.  Like most things, you get what you pay for.  Remember, these are restaurant quality.  Our selection of glasses are designed to handle the constant use (and abuse) of busy bars and restaurants.

Serve your family and friends the beverages they love in drinkware you can’t wait to show off. Cheers! 

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Group clinking glasses of wine