A glass for this, and a glass for that
Food writer Holly Ebel says the right glassware makes for a better drink at Rochester's Bitter & Pour.
How much attention do you pay to the glasses you drink from?
Whether it's a cocktail or a simple glass of water, many of us just don't. A glass is just a glass, it's what's in it that we're after, right? Wrong.
Thanks to Jeff Pieters, Post Bulletin editor, and Josh Kral of Bitter & Pour, I've come to a new appreciation of glassware. Pieters had gone there recently and was so taken with the glass his cocktail was served in he ended up ordering two coupes, also known as Nick and Nora's (more about that in a minute). It doesn't take much to rouse my interest, so off I went a few days later to Bitter & Pour, the craft cocktail lounge on Historic Third Street.
Kral, one of the owners, led me through a glassware tutorial. There were 20 glasses lined up on the bar in various sizes and shapes along with three decanters, plus several mugs for Tiki-type drinks.
Some I was familiar with, others not.
The glasses themselves were elegant, most made by Riedel, the premier producer of up-scale wine and cocktail drinkware.
Kral started with a large wine glass explaining that he preferred the over-sized glasses for both red and white wines. "A larger glass allows the aroma to develop more intensely." Next in the line-up was a champagne glass, beautiful but a shape most of us are familiar with, followed by two coupes, one larger, the other smaller.
These were new to me and I fell in love with them at first sight. I also understood why Pieters was so taken with them.
The coupe has a bowl shaped top with a stem and is sometimes used for champagne, though according to Kral, since it's more open than the typical champagn flute, the bubbles don't last as long.
Here they use coupes to serve martinis as well as other spirited, stirred cocktails. In fact I didn't see the more traditional V-shaped martini glass in the line-up. Reading later it seems that the coupe is easier to drink from than having the typical martini glass which easily spills - one wrong move and you're wearing it. Legend has it that the coupe's shape was inspired by Marie Antoinette's left breast, (not likely, but it makes a good story). The coupe is also known as as Nick and Nora glasses, so named after the famed Thin Man detective film series in the mid-1930s, which featured a couple who had at least six cocktails every episode. The coupe was their designated glass.
A tulip-shaped glass, also attractive and stemmed, is more for whiskey tasting rather than a mixed drink. The most popular and most used are their single and double old-fashioned glasses, both generously sized. I had seen a triple old-fashioned a few days before at Wm. Sonoma, a size which seemed overly exuberant. A tall chimney-style Collins glass, beer glasses and Tiki mugs ended the line-up.
"Tiki drinks are getting very popular again and these mugs – a Buddha, a skeleton and peacock – definitely add to the experience," he said.
Kral also stressed that not all glassware has the same purpose. The shape, the size – even what it's made of – can influence the aroma and taste. His personal favorites are glasses from Riedel and Waterford.
So what does Kral recommend for the home bar? A variety of different glasses for different beverages. Again he stressed size, saying that larger glasses are more useful. A good selection of wine glasses, double old-fashioneds, coupes, and the tall Collins cover most of the bases. The numbers depend on the space you have.
Bitter & Pour is known for its unique house-crafted drinks using their own fruit and herb-flavored syrups and spirits, as well as its special touches with regular drinks.
Larger ice cubes are a thing now, and here they cut their own out of ice blocks. I was shown a ball of ice the size of a small orange, a square cube measuring 2 inches-by-2 inches and a long thin ice cube resembling a stick of butter for the taller drinks.
If you go
Location: Getting into the actual bar/lounge is like going to a speakeasy. Located at 18 3rd St. SW, Suite 1, from the street you go down two flights of stairs. At the bottom there is no entrance but there is a bookcase. Clues to get in are printed there. That's just the beginning of a great experience that combines atmosphere with both unique and traditional drinks as well as wines and beers. A variety of non-alcoholic beverages are also offered.
Hours: Bitter & Pour is open everyday except Sunday from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Post Bulletin food writer Holly Ebel knows what’s cookin’. Send comments or story tips to firstname.lastname@example.org .