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 12 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).
Best drinking glasses sold in sets of assorted sizes
To make things easy, you might want to opt for a set of identical glasses in assorted sizes, so you’ll always have the right one at hand if someone wants water, juice, or a stiffer drink. When it comes to those, Tracie Battle, a senior designer at online interior-design service Havenly, recommends this set of Duralex’s Picardie glasses for their “classic look that will never go out of style.” She likes that they are made of thicker tempered glass, which, according to her, “offers more durability and a more expensive look.” This set includes four sizes and six glasses in each size, so you’ll always have one to grab, whether you’re having a smoothie, iced tea, a shot of whiskey, or, yes, water.
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.
Editor’s Note: This exact set is currently sold out at Bed Bath & Beyond, but you can buy six-piece sets of the same double old-fashioned and highball glasses at West Elm.
Best short water glasses
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. 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 V-shape, which Paul Malvone, a co-founder of Boston Burger Company, says 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.”
Best tall water glasses
The highballs hold more fluid than the Esquire side glasses 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.
“I use Libbey’s highball glass at home,” says Vincent Mauriello, managing partner at the Gerber Group. “I just think it doesn’t make too much sense to overthink your water glass — it should be durable and not look cheap.” He likes these because they “look and feel elegant,” and because they have a heavy base that, according to him, “makes it easy to carry on a tray, so it’s perfect for breakfast in bed.”
These glasses are similar to the Midtown style above — but come in a set of eight, instead of four, so you’re paying far less per glass. They come recommended by Byrne, who agrees that you can never go wrong with a “classic and clean” highball.
Editor’s Note: These highball glasses are no longer available online, but they are in-stock at select Crate and Barrel locations.
“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.
Best decorative drinking glasses
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.
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. At $20 for a set of four, Byrne says they allow you to get “the Anthropologie look” at a more affordable price point.
Susan Buckley, the EVP of food and beverage operations at Standard International, told us that “this is the classic tumbler we use at Narcissa,” the restaurant at The Standard, East Village. Like Libbey’s Endeavor glasses, these are also 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.”
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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