The culture surrounding apéritifs is on the rise in the U.S., and for good reason. Apéritifs are a great way to get the evening started, wake up your palate, and prepare your stomach for a fun night of delicious food and beverages.
Apéritifs are a classy, interesting, and fun way to start the conversation and connection with those around you. You can elevate these chic early-evening drinks even further with the right glass. Different drinks are better served in different glasses, and it’s helpful to know the differences so you and your friends can have the best drinking experience.
So today, let’s talk about apéritif glasses. What are the best options for different drinks? Why do you need to worry about it? By the end of this article, you’ll have answers to all your questions, so let’s get into it.
What Are Apéritifs?
Before we get into the specifics about the types of glasses to use for your apéritif of choice, we first need to understand what exactly an apéritif is. Then, we can make sure to not only choose the best glass but also choose the best drink.
An apéritif is a particular genre of alcoholic beverage meant to be consumed before the start of a meal. The original tradition of the apéritif comes from Italy, however it was popularized by the French, which is why we use the French word apéritif.
A Bit of History on the Apéritif
The original purpose of the apéritif was to whet the appetite. It prepares the stomach for digestion and helps the meal sit better in your belly, helping you to better enjoy the meal. Not to mention, they help loosen your mind from all the events of the day and serve as a great way to start the evening. Apéritifs help get the conversation going and allow everybody to have a good time.
But apéritifs aren’t just any type of alcohol. Only certain alcohols are suited to prepare you for the meal. Back in the good ol’ days, apéritifs were typically lower in alcohol content and dry as opposed to sweet. Apéritifs also often had a bitter flavor, with herbal and sometimes even medical qualities to them.
The culture around apéritifs has changed over the years, and now apéritifs tend to refer to most low alcohol, dry drinks. Think sparkling wines, spritzers, herbal liqueurs, or even some fortified or spiced wines, not just herbal liqueurs.
Although beer also tends to be lower in ABV, it is technically not considered an apéritif. Beer tends to sit fairly heavily in the stomach and doesn’t serve the purpose of preparing you for the meal.
The Sister of Apéritifs: Digestifs
On the other side of the apéritif is the closely related sister, digestif. While apéritifs are served at the beginning of the meal to awaken the palate and prepare your stomach for the meal, digestifs are served after the meal to settle your stomach and give your taste buds a rich sweetness to linger on.
Digestifs will be sweeter and have a little bit more sugar, which typically means they are a bit higher in alcohol content than apéritifs. With digestifs, you’ve got sweeter fortified wines, dry or sweet vermouths, and those decantly sweet brandies.
Digestifs and apéritifs are two sides of the same coin. They’re fairly similar, but they have their differences and each serves its own purpose in the meal.
The Rise of Apéritifs
For the past several decades, apéritifs have been somewhat forgotten. Some of them made their way into famous cocktails as a minor ingredient, but most were no longer enjoyed on their own as they were intended.
But as drinking culture has changed in recent years, apéritifs are coming into the limelight again. Fewer people want to get so drunk that they’re left with a nasty hangover. Others don’t want the uppity unapproachability that can come with drinking wine.
Drinking culture is simply becoming something that opens us up for quality conversation. People want delicious beverages that can bring laughter and meaningful connection with the ones they care about, and they don’t want to feel bad the next morning after sipping on high ABV liquors and drinks with high sugar content.
Apéritifs serve that purpose better than any other drinks. They tend to sit in the 12-20% range and have a lot less sugar, so they can get you loose without sitting super heavy in your stomach and on your conscience. That’s why more and more people are gravitating toward apéritifs.
What Are Some Common Apéritif Drinks?
There are a lot of apéritif options for you to choose from. This category of drinks is thankfully very broad, so you can find exactly the thing you’re looking for, whether you like light and fruity or herbal and earthy, there’s an apéritif out there for you.
Let’s look at a few of the great options out there.
The Anything Tonic
Tonic is the apéritif’s best friend. You can make virtually any clear liquor into an apéritif with a helping of tonic water. Gin and tonic (G&Ts) and vodka tonics are the most popular. They’re simple yet amazing cocktails.
There are a thousand variations on this classic Italian drink, but the core ingredients are prosecco, a bitter liqueur, and a splash of soda water. This is one of the most classic apéritifs out there.
Of course, we can’t leave out just sparkling wine on its own. Champagne, prosecco, and any other sparkling wine make for a great way to start off your meal. If you go this route, make sure you lean towards the dry varieties rather than the sweet ones. This will serve the purpose of an apéritif far better.
Low ABV Beverages
There are plenty of drinks with a lower ABV content that can operate as an apéritif. There are some lighter, herbal liqueurs that work, some fortified wines that are on the lighter side, and some other drinks like Haus that don’t fall into any other category.
What Are the Different Apéritif Glasses and What Are They Used For?
Now let’s get onto the whole reason you clicked on this article: glasses. They might seem like something you don’t need to worry much about, but the right size and shape of glass really makes a difference in just how enjoyable a drink can be. When you’ve got a special occasion coming up, these are the apéritif glasses you’ll need.
There’s something special about a coupe glass. It looks like a martini glass, but is softer, rounded, and more inviting. The long stem gives your hand something to hold so you don’t warm up the drink too quickly. Also, the small, six or seven-ounce bowl is ideal for any cocktails that are served up.
This will be a great glass for any cocktail you make that you shake or stir with ice and remove the ice when serving. It can even be used as a sparkling wine glass in a pinch. It’s a super versatile glass and a must-have for any home bar.
The Martini Glass
The martini glass is best for the drink that’s in its name: martinis! The open-top lets the aromas from the liquor escape to make for a great drinking experience for the higher ABV cocktails. It also features a stem to keep that drink chilled for longer.
A martini glass and a coupe can be interchangeable, but there’s something so iconic about serving martinis in the proper glass, so do it the traditional way whenever possible.
Single Rocks and Double Rocks Glasses
Single and double rocks glasses are meant for drinks served with ice. They’re short, stemless, and typically have pretty vertical sides for easy drinking and holding.
Most of the time, they’re great for sipping straight liquor over ice, but in the apéritif context, they’re ideal for cocktails that are served with ice and only have a few ounces of liquid.
The Collins Glass
A collins glass is a tall glass that is fairly narrow and can hold about 12 ounces. It’s great for cocktails that are served with ice and are fairly large. Collins glasses are great for drinks you mix with tonic or soda, such as a G&T or a Grapefruit Jalapeño Haus and soda.
The Nick and Nora Glass
The Nick and Nora glass is commonly used for craft cocktails, and they’re a pleasure to drink out of. They can substitute for a coupe glass and are a great way to elevate the drinking experience thanks to their unique, modern look. If you’re looking to make your experience fancy, this glass is a great way to step it up.
A brandy snifter is a must-have for apéritifs! It’s a short glass that has a short stem and a top that tapers inward so the rim of the glass is narrower than the bottom. This is a key characteristic of these glasses because it keeps all the aromas concentrated in the snifter so they can flow right into your nose.
A brandy snifter is great for herbal liqueurs and other aromatic drinks, whether you're serving them chilled or at room temp. The short stem can help warm up a liqueur to help it sit comfortably in your stomach.
The Right Apéritif Glass
There might seem like a lot of rules regarding apéritif glasses, but the right glass is the one that will help you enjoy your drink the most. If all the rules get in the way of you connecting with people over a drink, then don’t worry about them! Do whatever allows you to have a great night with those you care about.
For more info about apéritifs and a great selection of delicious ones that will help start your night right, check out Haus.