From copas and conicals, to balloons and bright colours, from stemless wine glasses to stemmed beer glasses, the quality and aesthetics of the glassware a customer’s drink is served in is often rated as strongly as the drink itself by many of today’s drinkers.
As Kelsey Cheesbrough – sales manager at branded glass supplier Festival Glass, which dispatches an average 60,000 glasses a week – says: “Branded, quality glassware is so important now. People are more aware of brand experiences and want to post pictures of their drinks on social media, particularly Instagram.”
Key for customers is that the glassware is appropriate to the drink and if you are still serving all your beers in one glass type and all your spirits and soft drinks in another, then the time is ripe to reconsider your approach, with customers, particularly in the ever growing non-alcoholic drinks category, demanding star treatment in presentation for their sans-alcohol experience.
Rob Blunderfield, marketing manager at supplier Parsley In Time, says: “Operators should consider sourcing new glassware when new drinks are added to the menu, so there is an appropriate glass to showcase the drink to its best advantage.”
He adds: “When serving wine or Champagne, the trend seems to be that classic glass shapes are best. Current favourites range from simple designs to etched and stemless glasses. It is also important that operators have different glasses for red and white wines as the shape of the glass has an impact on the taste and bouquet of wine.”
Showcase the drink
With the explosion in popularity of premium gin in recent years there has also been a march on the varieties of gin glass available to help showcase the drink – with balloon, copa, highballs and tumblers among those now increasingly being utilised for gin serves.
She adds: “For a twist on the classic G&T, serve in our Dante Hiball range of statement glasses. These replicate the look of cut glass while being strong enough to stand daily use. The stunning gold option will add elegance and sophistication to any venue. Short glasses, such as our Balmoral range, are perfect for daring drinks like a Gin Old Fashioned.”
Utopia Tableware marketing director Kathryn Oldershaw says: “Gin can be showcased with many different mixers, botanicals, garnishes and gin types. The glass selection can be the focal point of this by adding to the variety, enhancing both taste and presentation.”
Festival Glass offers five varieties of branded gin glasses, including a copa and a stemmed glass. Cheesbrough adds: “The glasses are great for gin festivals and licensees often get the glasses sponsored and feature the drinks brand.”
Selecting beer glasses
Festival Glass’s Cheesborough says: “The conical glass is our best-seller. Also the 20oz Senator beer glass. It is good for increasingly popular keg beer as it is nucleated in the bottom and operators can use it for both keg and lager.” The company’s conical glass range includes a 16oz glass which comes with printed lines of 2/3, half and a third of a pint.When it comes to selecting beer glasses, many pubs are now choosing to differentiate between those used for lager and for cask and keg beer and use branded glasses either featuring the pub logo or the beer brand.
But as the class of glass has increased in pubs and bars (think hand-etched signatures and hexagonal bases on the new Peroni Nastro Azzuro glass) as operators focus on delivering a quality drink experience, so too has customers’ appetite for ‘borrowing’ them. You need only look at eBay listings and charity shop shelves to get a sense of the millions of drinks glasses which are ‘borrowed’ from pubs by customers each year.
Such is the persistent issue of glass smuggling that operators and drinks suppliers are increasingly focusing on ways of reducing this significant cost to their businesses.
Shoe as a deposit
At the Beer Wall bar in Bruges, Belgium, the glassware is so sought after the operator has attached security tags to stop people stealing them. At De Dulle Griet in Ghent, anyone who drinks the speciality house beer, which is served in a glass with a stand specifically made for the pub, must hand over their shoe as a deposit.
Dulle Griet owner Alex Devriendt says: “Customers think it is fun sitting for an hour without their shoe. When we hand over the glass of beer, customers hand over their shoe. People enjoy having their picture with the bar team doing this and post it on social media. It is the best [possible] marketing for the pub.”
Any customer who breaks a glass is charged €90. Devriendt says: “Most pay for the glass, although we say we will call the police if not.”
But according to Festival Glass’s Cheesbrough, the novelty of new glass theft does wear off. She says: “New customers often place another order for more glasses quite quickly as the glasses get stolen for the novelty value, particularly in tourist areas. But then the operators find the novelty slows down and fewer go missing.”
Robb Hamlin, senior brand manager at brewer and bar operator Innis & Gunn, suggests publicans try a glass amnesty. He says: “Remind customers that while the glasses are great, what’s even better is the lager to go with it!”
Durable, delicate, fun
The key thing to consider when buying new glassware, according to Parsley In Time’s Blunderfield, is to ensure glasses are fit for purpose – durable when needed, delicate when required, or fun and quirky when the drink is too.
The durability of glassware is, of course, a key factor that is being met by suppliers such as Utopia, which is launching a range of glasses featuring glass-strengthening technology – manufacturer Nude’s Stem Zero range with Ion Shielding technology. Utopia’s Oldershaw says: “These help overcome the problem of breakages in delicate glassware. The Ion Shielding makes the glasses twice as strong as other handmade glasses of similar thinness.”
On the subject of breakages, Paul Crowley, marketing development manager of washware supplier Winterhalter UK, reminds licensees to consider how glassware will work in your machine. He says: “Check it will fit in your existing glasswasher and that it is able to wash the type of glasses you have chosen.”