With respect to very classy cocktail glasses like highballs and coupes, sometimes it’s nice having a drinking vessel that is as fun on the outside as it is on the inside. And some newer Austin bars are bringing their A-games when it comes to nifty glassware.
Eater talked to some of these new spots — Holiday, La Popular, Lulu’s, Lucky’s, Mama Dearest, and Lovebirds —about their respective funky, pretty, or otherwise cool cocktail glasses that are sparkling on their bartops.
This playful cactus glass debuted at the Govalle cocktail lounge when it opened this spring from Erin Ashford (formerly of Olamaie), John DiCicco (also of Kinda Tropical), and Peter Klein (formerly of L’Oca d’Oro). Ashford told Eater Austin in March that the menu appeals to all tastes while striking “a perfect balance of high/low.”
Holiday’s cactus goblets were purchased from the glassware company Libbey. The glass comes out with the bar’s zingy frozen Mexican martini. Ashford says she saw many vintage versions of the glass — this writer remembers buying said glasses in college for cheap at-home margaritas — but ultimately decided to buy new ones to have enough inventory. Plus, the beverages are generously poured, so volume was a concern.
Ashford says Holiday’s cupboard also contains a number of special vintage glassware pieces. The team sees fun glassware as a way to emphasize the transportive experiences found at the bar, and the cactus goblets take people to a fun, silly, classic, and nostalgic place.
5020 East Seventh Street, Govalle
The Mexico City restaurant opened its second stateside location last month in Austin. The swanky spot in the Lantana Place development specializes in pan-Mexican cuisine and agave spirits, with a cocktail menu crafted by Trevor Tyler, the vice president of beverage operations for its parent company California-based Eureka.
La Popular’s most Instagram-friendly beverage, though, is the Oaxacan Jellyfish, which arrives in a colorful, sculptural glass and comes with its own special effect. The drink — made with rum, pineapple, lime, blue lemongrass, coconut cream, and an elaborately placed lemongrass smoke bubble — comes in an aptly shaped glass. From the base of the blue, conical bowl sprouts rosy, curled stems that resemble the tentacles of jellyfish.
Once the smoke bubble pops into a wispy white cloud, though, the glassware might seem to have a closer resemblance to Cthulhu than a squishy little sea creature, but still, it’s unique.
7415 Southwest Parkway, Building 5, Suite 100, West Oak Hill
Mother-daughter team Lourdes Garcia and Maritza Gonzales opened their cocktail bar last fall. It serves a variety of Mexican cocktails and aguas frescas, the latter of which can be made boozy.
The bar owns several stylish, textured glasses that Gonzales says came from an online retailer. But guests also can order a paloma served in an earthenware cantarito, which makes for a particularly handsome sip. The cup — also known as a jarrito de barro — is a small clay jug often used in Mexico for drinks.
Gonzales says that Lulu’s cantaritos and the margarita glasses were purchased in Mexico City. The glassware was selected by her aunt, who runs a small business that imports handcrafted home decor and kitchenware from Mexico.
“We believe that aesthetically pleasing glassware elevates a craft cocktail,” Gonzales says. “When the cocktail is a perfect blend of flavors and made with quality fresh ingredients, what you put the cocktail in and what you garnish it with matters.” Expect drinks like the Palomita — tequila, orange/grapefruit/lime juices, and Squirt soda — serves in the cantaritos.
10402 Menchaca Road, Building C, Far South Austin
Fun, unique glassware comes down to three aspects: aesthetics, experience, and theme consistency. That’s according to Taryn Taylor, the director of sales and marketing for the Mexican-ish/Asian-ish bar and restaurant which opened earlier this year. “The right glassware can improve the flavors and aromas of a cocktail, creating a more immersive drinking experience,” Taylor says.
Take the gold-rimmed old fashioned glass, which evokes parents’ best crystal with its many facets and a halo around the lip. The bar’s Chihuahua Valhalla (tequila, lime, blackberry-serrano syrup, and a flaming lime wheel) is served in the cup, among other drinks.
Then there’s the supercoupe glass, which similarly brings tactile class to all of the bar’s frozen drinks and mimosas, as well as drinks like Fifth Petal (gin, aloe liqueur, St-Germain, lime, tarragon syrup herbal bitters, sparkling wine, and rosemary).
Taylor says that the bar’s choice of glassware also helps reinforce the “global journey” concept of Lucky’s. Plus, an appealing glass is much more likely to end up on Instagram, Taylor says.
1050 East 11th Street, Suite 100, Central East Austin
Variety is the spice of life, which is why this eclectic country-ish bar Mama Dearest makes the cut for this list. Taxidermied critters and back issues of Playboy are on the mood board for the Holly neighborhood joint, which opened in December.
“We wanted something that really fit the personality of the bar,” says general manager Josiah Shirley. “Growing up, my family, and many families just had a hodgepodge of random drinkware in the kitchen cabinet. Many times, that ended up being leftover pickle and jelly jars and whatnot.” This means margaritas served in canning jars.
Shirley says that the Mama Dearest team wanted to bring that same home comfort to guests. “Plus, who doesn’t love some fun drinkware when you’re surrounded by dead animals and baby dolls,” he says.
Honorable mention: the Beet It cocktail is served with a cut-off gym sock around the glass. Shirley’s explanation is very racy, but say the drink’s name out loud, imagine what secondary uses a sock might have, and you’ll get the idea.”
515 Pedernales Street, Holly
The newer East Austin bar from the brothers behind vegan food truck Arlo’s opened in the spring serving vibrant drinks courtesy of general manager Jon Stephenson. This includes the namesake cocktail served in a very delicate and pretty glass in the shape of a bird. The opening is the tail of said bird, which contains a drink mixed with rum, bitter bianco, butterfly pea tea, pineapple, and lime. The glasses are so eye-catching that it turns out that people have been stealing them.
2337 East Cesar Chavez Street, Holly