There is glassware out there for every conceivable libation from lager beer to champagne. The good news is you don’t have to have them all to enjoy a cocktail. You can happily drink a cocktail from a mason jar, but using the more traditional glassware for a particular drink, such as a rocks glass for an Old Fashioned or a collins glass for a, well… a Tom Collins adds to the authenticity of the drink and is certainly more in the spirit of historical cocktailing (I just made that up). The same goes for the old style stemmed cocktail glass. Again, it’s not required, however, there is something about a stemmed cocktail glass that adds to the enjoyment of the drink. Perhaps it’s the effete in me, but they just taste better.
There are many places that sell cocktail glasses and other glassware. What might be harder to find is stemware that is not too big. You’re looking for stemware that holds around 4 ounces, maybe a tad more. This will give you a little collar of empty space at the top of the glass after a standard 3 ounce pour which makes it easier to carry and take that first sip without spilling. Anything larger and your drink will be lost in a valley of glass. Besides, those huge 12 ounce, V-shaped glasses they use in some bars just make you look like a rube and your drink will be warm before you finish it. Unless it is a hot toddy or the like, cocktails are meant to consumed cold. That’s why you stir or shake them with ice. If you want that much to drink, make a second cocktail.
Some of the best places to find really nice glassware are antique stores or online vintage or auction sites. Most of the glasses you see on this site were picked up at antique stores, many of them for under $5.00 a stem.