Consider the Glass

Boston Showcase Company - Island Creek Oyster Bar - photo by Jesse Starr Productions

Before your guests even take their first sips, the glass their drink comes in is already making an impression – reaffirming their choice, building anticipation, and maybe even inspiring a little Instagram action.

Since, as the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, don’t miss the opportunity to enhance your guests’ overall experience. Choose your glassware wisely. Here are a few things to consider.


Let’s say a couple orders a Chardonnay and a Bordeaux. If they arrive in the same style glass, most folks wouldn’t think twice about it. But if one comes in a delicate, tulip-shaped glass and the other in a taller, rounder glass with a full sized bowl, folks would certainly take note. Wine glasses are designed to enhance the aroma and taste of that particular wine, down to the varietal, and serving them in the appropriate glassware silently communicates that each one is something special, worthy of its own particular vessel.

And the same certainly goes for beer in this era of the IPA. There is an incredible variety of beer glassware designed to enhance the drinker’s experience from sight to smell to sip. Serving an unfiltered, double dry hopped IPA in a tulip glass not only blasts the drinker with floral aromas, it encourages the them to savor the brew.

Beer Glasses in All Shapes & Sizes


Some beverages may not necessarily benefit flavor-wise from the glass in which they’re served. Take the tiki drink–which is so having a moment. These complex cocktails, which often feature numerous ingredients, won’t necessarily taste different if they’re served in a glass with a hula girl on it versus one in the shape of a shark but the whimsical glassware is half the fun.

Tiki drinks may be the pinnacle of attention grabbing cocktails, but they’re not the only ones. Oversized cocktails for two–or four or more–or cocktails with multiple parts that you assemble yourself also draw attention. These are the marketing savvy bartender’s dream, encouraging guests to post pics of their drinks to Facebook and others to ask “what’s she having?”

Of course, it isn’t to say you should emphasize style over substance. If your glassware is meant to demonstrate how much thought and care is going in to your beverage program, “Make sure you’re using the proper glass style, and not ‘just something fancy,’” warns Vikram Hegde, Bar Manager at Little Donkey in Cambridge. “Guests who know better are likely to call you out on it and it makes your commitment to your beverage program look disingenuous.”

Waypoint – Cambridge, MA – photo by Jesse Starr Productions


Think about a ordering a small-batch mezcal neat. One and half ounces of clear booze in a glass. Not much to it, but it probably costs $20. Serve it in a glass that has as much gravitas as the spirit itself to give your guests their money’s worth. It may be a subtle part of the experience, but a thick bottomed, heavy glass adds existential weight to the spirit within. And keep in mind many low ball glasses are too wide for a straight spirit, “it makes it look like you have nothing in the glass at all to drink” notes Vik, who adds “every bartender I know has been guilty of accidentally clearing away a half finished neat mezcal…or confusing it for a water glass.”


MORE TIPS & INSIGHTS on tabletop and kitchen design from Matt & Andy Starr can be found here.


About Matt & Andy Starr
Matt and Andy Starr are cousins and represent the fourth generation of family ownership at Boston Showcase Company, which helps restaurants with tabletop design, restaurant equipment, kitchen design and supplies. Their love of china began with their grandfather, Jason, who was nationally famous for his tabletop designs. A family dining experience for them is never complete without guessing the manufacturer and then flipping over the china. Along with the sales team, Boston Showcase Company installs dozens of new tabletops every year with china, glassware, flatware and accessories and recently received national tabletop awards for their work at Island Creek Oyster Bar (Burlington) and The Hourly Oyster House (Cambridge).

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