Tall, short, clear, and silver options for however you take your water.
Photo: Courtesy of the retailer
When it comes to glassware, the sexier vessels — a coupe, a flute, a wineglass — seem to get all the glory. Truth is, though, when it comes to drinking water or juice (or, yes, a G&T), what you really need most is a simple water glass. So we asked a few of our favorite restaurant, beverage, and interior design experts how they take their H2O. Below, our 19 panelists recommend their favorite water glasses, including a few restaurant-grade styles sold in bulk (that you might want to go in on with a friend or two — since you probably won’t need all 72, and when split, each glass ends up being just a couple bucks). To help you find what you’re looking for, we’ve categorized their picks by style and size.
Duralex’s Picardie glasses are a favorite among our panelists. It’s easy to see why: They are available in assorted sizes, so you’ll always have the right one at hand if someone wants water, juice, or a stiffer drink. More important, as Tracie Battle, a senior designer at online interior-design service Havenly, says, their “classic look will never go out of style.” She explains that they are made of thicker tempered glass, which “offers more durability and a more expensive look.” Hudson Wilder founder Conway Liao and author (and former Lucky Peach executive editor) Rachel Khong also swear by these glasses, with Khong saying that her set is “still going strong after many many years.” This 18-piece set includes three sizes and six glasses in each size.
Battle also recommends Libbey’s Polaris glasses for their “super-unique shape,” which includes a rounded, weighted base that feels hefty while still being sleek. This set comes with eight drinking glasses and eight smaller rocks glasses, offering the best “bang for your buck, at just over $2 per glass,” she says. They’re BPA-free and dishwasher-safe, too.
This set of Dailyware Bodega glasses from Bormiolo Rocco — which includes eight shorter double old-fashioned glasses and eight taller highball glasses — is interior designer Katrina Hernandez’s choice. She uses the glasses in both her house in the country and Brooklyn apartment. “They’re perfect for water or a cocktail. It’s a set of two sizes, but both are relatively shorter and more modern,” she says. Hernandez adds that they’re thin, but not “scary thin where you feel they could break in your hand at any moment.” She also appreciates the rounded edge of the lip as well. The Bodega is also a favorite style of Julie Mulligan, the owner and designer of cocktail lounge and restaurant Lot 15, because it’s “versatile and low maintenance but still chic.” She says that it’s “great for all kinds of home drinking and serving” and can even be used for displaying flowers. “They have a great smooth lip to drink from and the price is just right,” she adds.
If you’d rather go for uniformity, opt for a single size. And if cabinet space is limited, shorter glasses may be the way to go. Both Liao and Amanda Spina, the general manager of Williamsburg’s Four Horsemen restaurant and Nightmoves bar, swear by these shorter, stackable glasses by Japanese company Toyo-Sasaki. “I always want precious, delicate, thin Japanese glassware at the restaurant, but it’s got to be strong enough to fall onto a rubber mat and not break,” says Spina. “And it must be stackable.” These glasses, which are each about four-inches high, tick all those boxes. “They’re a little more unique and contemporary than the ubiquitous Duralex,” she adds, “but just as practical.” Liao agrees, noting their stackable design makes these “perfect for New York apartments.”
Amazon sells Bormioli Rocco’s 12-ounce Bodega tumbler — which is roughly the same height as the Bodega double old-fashioned glass in the brand’s assorted set above — on its own in a 12-pack.
The CB2 Marta glass has a similar feel as the smaller Bodega glasses above, and comes recommended by Athena Calderone, the founder of lifestyle blog Eye Swoon. She likes that they have “clean, straight lines” and are “made of ultra-thin glass.” She also says that “the price is deceiving — they look and feel far more expensive than they really are,” adding that they’re “definitely a crazy-good bang for your buck.” Not to mention:“They look as good sitting around on the table as they do on open shelving, which is helpful because that’s what I have at home,” Calderone says. Interior and event designer Ken Fulk is also a fan.
Mullligan’s go-to “for something clean and classic,” are these tumblers from Duralex. She likes that these glasses are stackable, but more importantly, that “they’ve withstood the test of time in my home, which is no easy feat.” Made in France of tempered glass, they’re also dishwasher-, microwave-, and freezer-safe.
According to Mulligan, Libbey is “an industry standard for style and wearability in the design world.” The petite Esquire side water glass is one of her all-time favorites, and she says that they’re great for the home but also in a restaurant setting. The thin glass, slightly curved shape, and weighted base make it a little more interesting than your standard, straight-sided water glass. Intended for the service industry, these glasses come in a case of 72, which is more than an average household will ever need. But if these appeal to you, consider splitting a case with a family member or friend (or several family members or friends). The cost-per-glass comes out to just a tad over a dollar, which honestly can’t be beat.
Instead of a glass with straight sides, maybe you’d prefer one that has a tapered V-shape. Paul Malvone, a co-founder of Boston Burger Company, says the style is better for stacking. “At the restaurant, we prefer a 9-ounce old fashioned Endeavor rocks glass,” he says. “They’re a little better-looking than a traditional drinking glass, and are versatile enough for water or a soft drink, or even a hard beverage.”
These tapered glasses are similar in shape to the ones above, but have a bit more of a pedigree (hence their higher price). Originally created by Finnish designer Göran Hongell and now produced by Finnish glassware company Iittala, the glasses are blown by mouth and are a favorite of restaurateur Yann de Rochefort, the founder and CEO of tapas restaurant Boqueria. “ Sleek, simple, and super-elegant,” is how he describes them, adding that they’re not too precious for everyday use and that the glasses have a heavier bottom so they “won’t easily get knocked over in a busy kitchen.” A fan of Scandinavian design, De Rochefort says these “remind me of antique glasses my family used for aquavit, a Swedish herbal-infused liquor they would drink (and occasionally let me taste) when I was a kid.”
According to Spina, these roughly five-inch goblets “are billed as ‘wineglasses,’ but they’re really not the best for wine because of their open shape.” What that shape is great for, though, is good-old H2O. “They happen to be perfect for water with lemon.” The shape and the fact that they’re made in Italy make them even more distinguished. (Pictured as a set of four, the price shown is for one glass.)
Libbey’s highball Impressions glasses hold more fluid than the brand’s shorter Esquire glasses in the section above, but they have a similar curved look and come in a more reasonable quantity (a set of four as opposed to a case of 72). They’re recommended by Decorist interior designer Katy Byrne, who says they’re her top pick for an everyday water glass. “It’s the perfect weight with an elegant detail that not only looks nice but provides the perfect grip spot,” she tells us.
“At home, I use these 12-ounce Collins glasses, which are tall and a handsome vessel for cocktails” says Nick Rancone, the owner of the Twin Cities–based Twist Davis Group of restaurants. While they’re nice enough for serving drinks like a Tom Collins, gin fizz, or even a mojito, Rancone likes these because “they’re multipurpose enough to use for just plain water, too. I like that it can do double or triple duty.”
These highballs from Luigi Bormiolo come recommended by Battle: “This set is minimal in style and works well for several different drinks, whether a simple glass of water or a mint mojito,” she says. Battle adds that they’re a great option if you have kids as well: “They are a more durable option without having to sacrifice the look of glass.”
If you’re looking for something even more durable, Battle says “this is an almost identical alternate to the Luigi Bormiolo Classico glass, but is made of a highly acrylic that is BPA, Phthalate, lead and latex free.” They’re another great option “if you want the look of glass but don’t want to run the risk of them shattering,” she adds. They’re also available in a smaller “double old fashioned” style and in a turquoise, which she thinks is “great for summer.”
This stackable highball glass is a favorite of Employees Only co-owner Igor Hadzismajlovic for its convenience. “We use the 9-ounce highball glass by Libbey at home, which is stackable, and is a must for a tiny New York apartment,” he says. “It’s actually the same glass we use at Employees Only, too. They’re thick enough to eliminate breakage, which is especially important for a glass that is most frequently used.”
Sustainable-living expert Danny Seo, the editor-in-chief of Naturally, Danny Seo magazine, loves these glasses that are made from 100-percent post-consumer recycled glass — or “the stuff you toss out in your recycling bin,” as he puts it. Seo adds that “the organic texture and shape lends well to pairing them with clean modern dinnerware.” And we think the slightly bulbous silhouette is a little more interesting than that of your standard highballs.
If you prefer something with a little more heft and character, consider these glasses from Anchor Hocking, a company that Joshua Goldman, a co-owner of the Los Angeles–based restaurant-and-bar consulting firm Soigné Group, turns to for “great inexpensive and durable glasses.” He likes these 7-ounce tumblers that have faceted sides and a weighted sham. “I started using these types of glasses because they hold enough water to wash something down, but they’re not so big to be obtrusive on the table next to everything else,” says Goldman.
For glasses with a bit more texture, Battle recommends these from Williams Sonoma, which feature a pattern inspired by honeycombs. She thinks they’d work well in “a more eclectic kitchen space.” Made in Italy, they’re also freezer safe, which Battle points out isn’t common. “Pull these out of the freezer in the middle of summer to immediately chill a glass of lemonade,” she says.
Another textured option is this set of polka-dotted glasses that Byrne calls “adorable,” adding that they would liven up any tablescape. The set of 16 includes eight pieces of the taller and shorter glasses shown.
If you’re going for a vintage look, Byrne suggests trying these highball glasses with raised dots and smooth fluting that recall traditional pressed-glass pieces. Byrne says they allow you to get “the Anthropologie look” at a more affordable price point.
After years of drinking out of a collection of mismatched glasses, maybe you’re looking to invest in glassware strong enough for daily use but elegant enough for special occasions. According to filmmaker Taylor Steele, the founder of Solento Organic Tequila, a set of these could be just the ticket. “This is a classy glass,” he says. “It’s made from hand-cut crystal, creates beautiful shadows, and is perfect whether you’re sipping water or something a little stronger.”
This set of six diamond-cut highball glasses recommended by Eater LA editor Matthew Kang are a just-as-elegant option (and slightly cheaper, with each breaking down to $20). They’re also from Japanese brand Toyo-Sasaki, and Kang says the glasses are “sturdy and easier to pick up, thanks to the grip of the cut.” He adds that the Japanese glasses are much thinner than their European-cut counterparts, and “a lot lighter and more elegant,” too.
Susan Buckley, the vice president of food and beverage operations at Atelier Ace, told us that “this is the classic tumbler we use at Narcissa,” the restaurant at The Standard, East Village. The glasses are V-shaped and therefore stackable, a feature Buckley calls “a plus.” She also adds that they “sit nicely relative to accompanying wine glasses, have a nice feel when you hold them in your hand, and are strong without feeling clunky.” The light blue hue makes them especially memorable. “We’re lucky to have an amazing tabletop stylist who spent hours sourcing these perfect glasses.”
“Color speaks volumes on any table setting,” says chef Stacy Seebode. That’s why she loves to drink from these hand-blown tumblers that you can get in either amber or olive green. (The price shown is for one glass.)
For glasses with even more color options, consider these sets from Italian brand Zafferano, which we heard about from Rebecca Carey, the food-and-beverage director at the Viceroy Chicago hotel (and its restaurant Somerset and rooftop bar Devereaux). “Using their products just makes me happy,” she says. She uses the Veneziano tumblers (in amethyst) at her home and says she gets “a lot of compliments on them.” She’s also used the Perle glasses (in cobalt) at work, calling the style “really striking and special.”
Seo also loves these glasses by Portland, Oregon–based North Drinkware. “I found them when we were in Portland shooting a story about Portland Made for the magazine,” he says. “The glasses have a blown ‘mountain’ at the base, which I think make them fun and handsome.” (The mountains he refers to are inspired by actual mountains, and you can choose from a several different styles when purchasing.) At $50 a pop, they’re definitely a splurge, but that makes them a great gift for someone looking to elevate their drinking experience (including yourself).
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