If you’re anything like me, your cupboard is probably crammed with odds and ends of orphaned glassware. Chances are you never planned it that way (I know I didn’t), and sometimes fantasize about starting over with an all-matched new set (I know I have). But lately I’ve come to appreciate all the versatility and variety in my haphazard bar glass collection.
posted originally from: TheKitchn The Advantages of Unmatched “Sets”
If nothing matches, it can all somehow become a set. My grandmother had a collection of single teacups in different patterns she acquired over the years - why not take the same approach to cocktail glasses?
- When entertaining, you don’t have to keep track of whose drink is whose - you'll know at a glance
- A certain amount of versatility is built into variety: You'll always have different styles to choose from for different occasions and moods (from the thick and sturdy for day-to-day use, to the delicately refined for special occasions)
- If a glass breaks, you don’t have to worry about finding an exact replacement (Added bonus: natural selection. I've always believed in a kind of "survival of the fittest" in glassware - poorly balanced, top-heavy pieces tend to be the first to go)
- As your tastes change and evolve, you can experiment with single glasses in different styles
- Go by weight. Group thick, sturdy workhorses together (see the newish “martini” glasses in the top pic), or combine thin, delicate glasses (as in the vintage arrangement directly above)
- Or by decorative style. Etched designs (see the sherry/cordial glasses, bottom), gold rims, kitchy decals - any one of these decorative elements can become the common thread
- Or by color. Look for tinted glass or applied decorations with similar hues to pull everything together
- Or just go freeform. So long as each glass holds approximately the same volume of liquid, really anything goes (see the shot glasses directly below)
- Vintage cocktail glasses tend to be much smaller than their modern supersized counterparts (3-4 ounces vs. 5-8 ounces). Keep this in mind when using modern recipes (I'll often shake up a batch of cocktails following a modern recipe for 3 drinks, and then divide the finished product into 4 vintage glasses)
- Glasses of different shapes and sizes don't always fit together in tidy rows the way a matching set would. For this reason, they'll often take up more space. (If you're building a collection, keep storage in mind)
- Most vintage glasses should be hand-washed and dried with a soft cloth. (Barware that predates dishwashers was not designed to stand up to the stresses of machine washing)
- Gold-rimmed glasses or those with other applied decorations often show wear and are definitely not dishwasher safe
- Watch for tiny chips and nicks on the rims of older glasses - these can sometimes be sharp
What's your take on mismatched glasses? Do you have any favorites at home?
Related: Collecting: Small Glasses
(Images: Nora Maynard)