When it comes to glassware, the sexier vessels — a coupe, a flute, a wineglass — seem to get all the glory. But a simple glass cup (which can be just as appropriate for juice, wine, iced coffee, or yes, a G&T) gets used more than any of those options — and is just as worthy of praise. Whether you’re in the market for a basic, stackable matching set or for something bolder to spruce up your dinner table, the choices are many. To help you in your search, we asked some of our favorite restaurant, beverage, and interior-design experts how they take their H2O (and more). Below, our 19 panelists recommend their favorite water glasses, including a few restaurant-grade styles sold in bulk (that you may want to go in on with a friend or two since you probably won’t need all 72). To make it easier to 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 has 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 wall insulated mug and eight taller highball glasses — is interior designer Katrina Hernandez’s choice. She uses the glasses in both her house in the country and her 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 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 baking 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 glass water bottle 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.”
According to Spina, these roughly five-inch goblets “are billed as ‘wineglasses,’ but they’re really not the best for crystal wine glass cup 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.)
Shelley Kleyn Armistead, a partner at Gjelina Group who is in charge of the interior design and tableware at all of its restaurants, is a fan of these simple Riedel water glasses. “I love the silhouette,” she says. “At the restaurants, we actually use them for wine because there’s something about them that feels friendly and approachable, a contrast to how wine is so often served.” Of course, they also work beautifully for water. Not too big and not too small, “they feel like glasses that should be used for daily enjoyment,” as Armistead puts it.
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 glass water bottle. “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 also a great choice if you have kids: “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 an 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.
Anna Polonsky, founder of the food-focused strategy-and-design consultancy Polonsky & Friends, loves to set a dinner table with these drinking glasses. “Hudson Wilder really creates timeless tableware,” she says. “They stand out without being too much. The base makes them special, but they’re also hardy enough not to feel too precious.” She owns a set in amber, which you’ll have to wait till September to get. Or snag these with a just as beautiful smoke-color base now.
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