The Origins of Modern Glassware

Selecting glassware for drinks is one of the most fun aspects of cocktail culture. While there are guidelines for which glasses suit different cocktails, there’s almost endless room for interpretation and personalization, and a rich history of glass that informs different styles. From vintage-inspired colored cocktail tumblers to modern double-walled vessels designed to aerate your whiskey, there’s a unique glass to suit everyone’s tastes.  

Ancient Origins

Glassware traces its roots back nearly 4,000 years to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, where artisans discovered the art of glassmaking. Different cultures developed their own techniques for working with the material, from using molds to shape partially viscous glass to cutting glass canes and fusing them into complex serving platters. 

Initially, glass was colorful, opaque, and reserved for royalty as a luxury good. But as artisans developed new techniques such as creating clear glass, glassblowing, and many other innovations, glass goods became more cost effective than ceramic vessels and therefore accessible beyond royal circles. It also created the opportunity for artists to create more unique shapes and distinctive styles which still influence glassware designs today.

Cut Crystal Glass

As its name suggests, cut crystal glass refers to the technique of etching designs into a finished glass vessel. Although shallow etching dates back to the early days of glass art, the deep, angular cuts most commonly associated with the style were developed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, cut crystal glassware is often made using the pressed glass method rather than cutting designs into the cooled vessel, and is seen as a very traditional, conventional style. Elegant and refined, it's the perfect type of glassware for someone who appreciates a vintage aesthetic.

Viski Stemmed Admiral Glasses

Art Deco

The roaring 1920s brought forth the glamorous era of Art Deco, characterized by sleek lines, geometric shapes, and a celebration of modernity. The Art Deco movement affected glassware preferences on a wide scale, bringing a pop of color and a playful sense to the table. Rather than the traditionally simple, clear glasses intended to show off crystalline shapes, Art Deco glassware was full of life and unmitigated creativity. Today, this influence lingers in embellished cocktail glassware with touches of color, decorative etching, and gilding.

Viski Gatsby Highball Glasses Set of 2

Contemporary Elegance

Modern designs in glassware tend to embrace minimalism, functionality, and a focus on enhancing the sensory experience of drinking. Unlikely geometric shapes, clean lines, and sleek silhouettes bring understated elegance to cocktail glassware, allowing the drink and garnishes to take center stage. 

Viski Raye Crystal Whiskey Tumblers Set of 2

From ancient civilizations to the present day, glassware has evolved, influenced by culture, art movements, and technological advancements. Today, you can see traces of antique styles and more recent designs in the wide variety of glassware available. Knowing what style you’re drawn to can help you curate a glassware collection that fits your aesthetic and enhances your cocktail sipping experience.

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