Traditional glassware? Might as well smash it on the floor, according to some mixologists. An increasing number of watering holes across the United States are using unusual vessels to serve cocktails, ranging from teapots to goldfish bowls. While part of the allure is simply the arresting visual effect, this trend also is driven by the move toward larger-format drinks, such as punches and tiki drinks, like the flaming Volcano Bowl at Thatch Tiki Bar in Portland, Oregon, meant to serve more than one person.
Similarly, at New York cocktail den 1534, punches are served in vintage tea kettles in three different sizes.
Meanwhile, at Bond 45 in National Harbor, Maryland, the goal of serving cocktails in teacups is to perpetuate a Speakeasy-style effect. During Prohibition, it was common to find those boozy libations disguised in innocent-looking teacups and teapots. Although bootleg hooch is no longer an issue, there’s still some whimsy in sipping drinks created by Dale Degroff from what appears to be grandma’s best china.
At London’s experimental cocktail den Purl, the vessel is part of the show: One evening’s Smoke-Upon-Smoke cocktail was made from smoky Laphroaig whiskey mixed with fino Sherry, served in a glass rimmed with vanilla salt. But the big surprise was that the drink was served beneath a bell-jar, the better to capture actual smoke swirling around the glass.
At Aviary in Chicago, the latest temple to futuristic cocktails from Grant Achatz, the glass serves double duty for chilling as well as drama—an Old Fashioned is contained within a ball of ice, which cracks open like a coconut.
Try these cocktails in some sassy stemware of your choice:
The Ziegfeld Martini
Courtesy of Bond 45, National Harbor, MD
1½ ounces Grey Goose Vodka
¾ once pomegranate juice
½ ounce simple syrup
½ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients. Shake vigorously and strain into a teacup. Garnish with a lime wheel. Serves 1.
Courtesy of Thatch, Portland, OR
At Portland, Oregon’s tiki outpost Thatch, this “flaming drink of goodness,” is intended to serve a minimum of three people.
6 ounces grapefruit juice
2 ounces lime juice
¾ ounce maple syrup (simple syrup made using gum arabic)
½ ounce gomme syrup
3 ounces Lemon Hart 80 rum
2 ounces gold rum
1 ounce Coruba rum
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients. Shake vigorously and serve in a Volcano Bowl or other large bowl. Serves 3.