Your glassware makes a statement. The types of drinking glasses you choose go a long way towards your guests’ experience, but there are many factors to consider when selecting the right type of glass. For instance, what does your drink menu consist of? Do you offer bar service? In that case, you’ll want specific bar glassware. Are you trying to enhance your wine service? You’ll want to familiarize yourself with all the different types of wine glasses. Do you offer a steady selection of beer on draft? You’ll want an understanding of the types of beer glasses and the best beer glass for each type of beer. Each category of glassware is designed for specific purposes – adding style to the tabletop, pulling out unique aromas and flavors, and enhancing the overall drinking experience.

Types of drinking glasses graphic

The choices for glassware are limitless. Regardless of what type of dining establishment you run, whether a rockin’ bar or a casual diner, at the very least you’ll need some standard drinking glasses for water, juice, soft drinks, what have you. Here, we present an overview of the most common types of drinking glasses, and some factors you’ll want to take into consideration before selecting the right type of glass for your needs.

Did you know that Central offers free samples on many collections of glassware? Sometimes it’s best to try a type out before committing to a large quantity. To request a sample, connect with one of our foodservice product experts.

The Most Common Types of Drinking Glasses

Each of the following types of drinking glasses share many similarities and can be used interchangeably. However, based on your operation or catered event, opting for the right glass can go a long way towards a positive impression.

Water & Cooler Glasses

Cooler glasses, sometimes referred to as standard water glasses, are used to do just that – serve water. But, as noted, can be used for all types of cold beverages. Traditional water glasses feature tall, straight sides and hold 12 ounces; however, a range is available from 10 to 25 ounces to best accommodate varying demands.

Juice Glasses

As you may be able to infer from the name, juice glasses are best reserved for serving juice. They’re often notated by their smaller capacities, ideal for serving fresh-squeezed juices during breakfast and brunch.

They are available in different designs to really accentuate bright juices and assist with tabletop presentation. Sometimes, these are used interchangeably with small capacity rocks glasses, occasionally referred to as low-ball glasses (see below). The standard height of a juice glass typically doesn’t go past five inches, with capacities often ranging between three and seven ounces.

Rocks Glasses

Rocks glasses have become more prominent in everyday dining thanks to their versatility. Many rocks glasses have also been referred to as lowball glasses, a low glass with a sturdy and wide round base (compared to highball glasses that are much taller but slimmer, often holding the same capacity; see our Types of Bar Glasses Buying Guide for more characteristics). And lowball glasses are sometimes referred to as old-fashioned glasses, given their initial purpose as a whiskey glass.

Rocks glasses are no longer used solely for serving whiskey and classic cocktails, though that purpose does in fact remain. That’s how its name was originally derived, after all, because the original purpose was serving spirits neat or “on the rocks” with ice. Many restaurants now use the low-profile rocks glass to set the tabletop with water, complementing with a carafe that sits in the middle of the table for guests to refill their own glasses. This is prominent in trendy brunch establishments and those catering to the farm-to-table scene. Many have also opted to start using rocks glasses interchangeably with juice glasses.


Tumblers are the most popular form of beverage glasses, often seen in casual dining establishments. Many tumblers are made of plastic, which makes them a good candidate for high-volume, institutional-type organizations like cafeterias in schools, universities, hospitals, and correctional facilities.

Tumblers cover all sizes, ranging from five ounces on the low end to more than 30 ounces on the high side. However, many establishments opt for a 16-ounce and a 20-ounce tumbler to accommodate small and large sizes.

Restaurant tumblers are often characterized by their straight sides, traditional plastic construction, flat bottom, and no handle or stem.


Goblet glasses are best reserved for serving water or iced tea at banquets or higher-end catered events. Goblets are most notable by their wide bowl on top a short stem and are occasionally used to serve beer at higher-end bars with a large selection on draft. However, they shouldn’t be confused with tulip glasses that have a similar design. The main purpose of tulip glasses are to serve stronger, Belgian-styled ales and dark, heavy beers (see more in our Types of Beer Glasses Buying Guide and our guide on Craft Beer Glasses: The Right Type of Glass for the Right Type of Beer).

Standard height of goblet glasses ranges from six to nine inches and the bowl diameter between three and six inches. These are important dimensions to ensure you get the right glass dishwasher rack to accommodate your goblet glasses. Capacities range between 10 to 14 ounces.

Mixing Glasses

Mixing glasses are another common type of drinking glass known for their versatility. They are often seen behind bars as an all-purpose beer pint glass as well as the bartender’s favorite accessory, used to mix ingredients for cocktails (as its name entails). They also make great standard drinking glasses given their basic, tapered shape that opens up at the rim.

Many establishments have opted to use mixing glasses for an all-purpose beverage glass, and if you’re only looking for one type of glassware for your establishment, this type of glass could be a safe bet. A pint (16 ounces) is the standard capacity for mixing glasses, though they also come in larger capacities, such as 14 and 20 ounces.

All-Purpose Beverage Glass

Some all-purpose beverage glasses differ slightly from standard mixing glasses in their design. Whereas mixing glasses predominately feature straight, clear sides, many all-purpose beverage glasses feature a textured side or a pattern that adds an extra aesthetic to the tabletop and dining experience.

All-Purpose Beverage Glass

Disposable Drinkware

Regardless of the type of establishment, it’s never a bad idea to stock up on disposable drinkware for drinks to go.

Disposable To-Go Cup

Pitchers and Carafes

Don’t forget about carafes and pitchers to enhance service efficiency of larger groups. Carafes are a great self-service tabletop accessory so guests can continue to top off their water without flagging down their server.

Glass Carafe

Final Thoughts on the Types of Drinking Glasses

The key takeaway here: when it comes to types of drinkware, you have options. And not every option is ideal for every establishment. You don’t need to worry about acquiring a diverse range of glassware types. Many of the above glass types can serve multiple purposes.

We offer thousands of glassware solutions from the top brands in the industry, including Libbey Glassware and Anchor Hocking. We also have our own Value Series and Central Exclusive glassware solutions available at value price points and exclusive warranties.

Don’t forget about free samples. You can request a free sample of hundreds of popular lines of commercial drinkware simply by connecting with one of our foodservice product experts. This is a great opportunity to get your hands on a prospective glass to try it out before committing to a larger purchase.

Check out our other glassware resources for more information to help you find the right glass(es) for you.

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