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In the world of glassware, drinking glasses are not given much attention even though they are the quintessential necessity in every household. Not everybody drinks wine, but water is an everyday beverage all human beings need. And, in the realm of drinking glasses, there are so many options from chic, vintage barware to sturdy plastic tumblers.
When considering the drinking glasses for your home, glass versus plastic is an important debate. Are there children in the house that may benefit from an acrylic tumbler, is there a budding mixologist looking to add a versatile glass set for their experimental libations? There are also maintenance and storage concerns. Should it be dishwasher safe for ultimate convenience, or do you have a small apartment where storage space is premium, and you need something that stacks?
From classic tempered bodega glasses to shatterproof acrylic tumblers, these are the best drinking glasses.
Best Overall: Libbey Polaris 16-Piece Tumbler and Rocks Glass Set
What We Love: Affordable, comfortably heavy bottom, durable, no thermal shock
What We Don't Love: The rounded bottom might be easy to tip over
Libbey has long been known for its durable, American-made drinking glasses. In fact, many restaurants carry a version of Libbey glasses as their drinkware of choice because of the affordable, dishwasher-safe, classic design.
This 16-piece set goes beyond functionality with its elegant style. The set includes eight 16.25-ounce tumbler glasses and eight 12.25-ounce rocks glasses, which provide versatility along with a consistently sophisticated and sturdy aesthetic. The weighted bottom provides an extra layer of stability, and the heft of the glass feels comfortable in your hand.
The construction of these glasses enables swift temperature changes. There wasn't a hint of a crack during the hot-to-cold test and I was quickly able to hold a previously very warm glass. The construction also reduces the risk of scratches and nicks caused by regular wear and tear, making them ideal candidates for everyday use. The rounded lips feel comfortable against the mouth during all the sipping tests, and the shape of the weighted bases fits easily into the palm. While the cup bottoms have a rounded look, they also feature a flat base, so there's no need to worry about instability and tipping.
For those who want some contrast in their glassware, the set is also offered with a black/grey tint. If you are looking for a set to cover a wide variety of beverage needs that offer more visual interest than just your simple drinking glass, Libbey Polaris is a solid choice.
Pieces in Set: 16 | Sizes: 12.25 ounces, 16.25 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best Budget: Bormioli Rocco Bodega Glassware Set
What We Love: High-end appearance, stackable, versatile, durable
What We Don't Love: On the short side with thin glass
Even if you have never been to Spain where bodega glasses are ubiquitous, you have probably heard of them. These simple, clean-lined darlings of the bar industry have become a popular everyday drinking glass in many homes. They are crafted from tempered glass so even though they look delicate, they are virtually unbreakable. The Bormioli family has been making glassware since the early 1800s and is now Italy’s largest manufacturer so you can be assured you're getting a dependable product.
This minimalistic-looking set is versatile, as well as chic. The 12-piece collection has a 12.5-ounce capacity so it is amply sized for chocolate mousse or a sugar-rimmed mojito. The tough tempered glass makes them resistant to changes in temperature that cause thermal shock, chips, and breakage. Because of its relatively thin material, during my main test, I worried that the glass would still be too hot to handle after the cold water was poured in, or that the heat of the glass would affect the temperature of the cold water. I'm happy to report that neither came to pass; I could pick up the glass within seconds of the cold water being poured in, and the water tasted fresh-out-of-the-fridge cold. Even if you've just removed a glass from the dishwasher (and it's still a bit hot), you can easily fill the glass with cold water and won't have any trouble handling the cup (and your cold water will, in fact, remain cold). And trust me, these will hold up through many cycles in the dishwasher.
The clear glass goes with anything, and the tempered finish keeps the glass from clouding regardless of temperature variation. They're lightweight, effortlessly stylish, stack easily for compact storage, and feature a rounded lip for smooth drinking. For a budget-friendly drinking glass, this Rocco Bodega set packs a lot of punch.
Pieces in Set: 12 | Size: 12.5 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Everyday Use: Duralex Picardie Glassware
What We Love: Comfortable in the hand, classic design, various sizes in set
What We Don't Love: Potential for thermal shock
A tempered glass option with plenty of retro appeal, the Duralex Picardie set may remind shoppers of the sturdy, smash-proof water glasses found at roadside diners. These glasses are proudly utilitarian, but their simplicity and lack of trendiness make them endlessly useful (and adaptable, as they go with everything). This set features three sizes for maximum versatility and durability. The rounded and faceted design fits comfortably in your hand while still offering a classic aesthetic. Whether you are filling up with water or cold brew, there is a glass for your beverage in this set.
The 18-piece set includes three different sizes, which is great for families trying to satisfy multiple needs in glassware. During testing, all three sizes felt comfortable in my hand, if a bit heavier and sturdier than delicate glassware, and were very comfortable to drink from. There was a slight con with the thermal shock test, though. The smallest glass passed the test with flying colors; it easily acclimated to the cold water. The larger two sizes held on to their warm temperatures, ultimately warming up the water a few degrees. When I went to hold the glass, it still felt warm to the touch. This may pose a potential issue, so you'd be safe to let these cool down for a few minutes out of the dishwasher.
If space is a consideration, the Duralex Picardie glasses stack easily without risk of chipping, and the glasses are nonporous, so they do not absorb odors or stains. The extra-thick tempered glass withstands temperatures from minus 4 degrees up to 212 degrees, making it safe for the refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher. The variety of sizes, durable tempered glass, and classic design make this a great choice for any occasion, and safe for any age to grab a thirst-quenching beverage.
Pieces in Set: 18 | Size: (6) 8.75 ounces, (6) 12.6 ounces, (6) 16.9 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Related: The Best Reusable Water Bottles
Best for Cocktails: Fortessa Jupiter Iced Beverage Glasses
What We Love: Durable, variety of colors available, attractive
What We Don't Love: Visible seam on side
For all those cocktail-enthusiasts out there, the Fortessa Jupiter line is the glass to serve your next home-brewed Negroni in. The beaded exterior brings visions of vintage Parisian flea markets and dark European cafes. The 10-ounce glasses easily accommodate everything from Old Fashioneds to more tropical libations, and they come in a variety of colors to match any decor.
I purchased the smoke color, and it matches my great-grandmother’s Depression-era dinnerware as well as my modern West Elm pieces. And the thick tempered glass is extremely durable. They are dishwasher-safe, which makes easy cleanup after a dinner party. The set includes six glasses, and imbibers will appreciate the rounded lip that makes sipping a breeze.
Pieces in Set: 6 | Size: 10 ounces, 13 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Kids: US Acrylic Classic Clear Glasses, Set of 6
What We Love: Versatile, stackable, thick base aids stability
What We Don't Love: Pricey for plastic
If you have children at home, plastic is often the go-to choice for drinking glasses. The US Acrylic Classic is a stylish option that offers all of the advantages of plastic but has the look of real glass. The sides are thin but durable and have no visible seams. The tall, narrow shape makes them easily stackable, and the thick base adds sturdiness to the construction.
Beyond the attractive design, this six-piece set of 16-ounce tumblers is BPA-free, shatterproof, and top-rack dishwasher-safe. They are a great choice for families with adventurous children or people looking for an option to take their iced chai to the pool without fear of breakage. And, they are comfortable to drink out of because of the rounded lip and lack of seams.
Pieces in Set: 6 | Size: 16 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: On top rack
Related: The Best Dish-Drying Racks
Best Plastic: Tervis 4-Pack Clear Tumblers
What We Love: Will not break, can handle hot drinks, large capacity
What We Don't Love: Pricey
If there is a graduation on your calendar, chances are you looked at Tervis Tumblers. The standard option is clear, but you can also opt to personalize your Tervis with colors, school logos, personalized messages, and more, making them an affordable gift, as well as a great plastic drinkware selection. The 16-ounce shatterproof tumblers are the smart choice for picnics, patio dining, or beach trips. Plus, the double-walled construction eliminates condensation.
These tumblers come in a 4-piece set that is BPA-free and melamine-free. The insulated layers keep drinks hot or cold for long periods of time, and the tapered base fits comfortably in most car cup holders. Cleanup is a cinch as these drinking glasses are top-rack dishwasher safe, and the thick plastic can withstand both the freezer and the microwave.
Pieces in Set: 4 | Size: 16 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Related: The Best Dinnerware Sets
If you are looking for a versatile, durable drinking glass set, we recommend the Libbey Polaris 16-Piece Tumbler and Rocks Glass Set (view at Amazon) because of the variety of sizes, their virtually unbreakable tempered glass construction, and stable weighted base. If a plastic option is what you are looking for, try the US Acrylic Classic Clear Glasses (view at Amazon) set for maximum safety and a stylish, glass-like appearance.
What to Look for When Buying Drinking Glasses
When purchasing drinking glasses, there are two choices of material: plastic or glass. Each has its own maintenance needs, and customers should check all manufacturer labels for care instructions. Most plastic drinking glasses are dishwasher-safe, but glass is dependent on the type of glass.
Tempered glass is highly durable and can often withstand hot and cold temperatures. Most tempered glass is dishwasher safe and not susceptible to thermal shock. Always examine your glasses periodically to ensure there are no cracks that will weaken the surface—which can lead to spontaneous shattering. The good news is if tempered glass breaks, it breaks into small cubes rather than sharp shards.
Soda-lime glass is more delicate than tempered glass. It is susceptible to thermal shock, and hand-washing is recommended. If soda-lime glass breaks, use caution as it shatters into those classic, sharp shards.
The material comes into consideration again when choosing a style of drinking glass.
Plastic offers ultimate versatility as you can safely take it out to the pool, pour children a glass of orange juice without fear of breakage, or pack it for your beach picnic. It often stacks easily and is lightweight. Most plastic options are casual, so they may not be the choice for dinner parties or formal table decor.
Glass drinkware has many more options in the style realm but is breakable, so it's not suited for outdoor use where a slip might result in a dangerous mess to clean up. You can opt for the more sturdy tempered glass, also called safety glass for its ability to hold cold and hot beverages and tendency to be unbreakable, or if broken results in manageable small cubes. Soda-lime glass, on the other hand, is much more delicate, and can only hold cold beverages.
The shape is another consideration. Tumblers are a great multipurpose choice that can be used for everything from water to a pint of beer but are not a great choice for cocktails or wine. Bodega glasses are useful beyond just beverages. I use mine for desserts, charcuterie accompaniments, and dips. They also make gorgeous vessels for that summertime Mai Tai.
Are drinking glasses microwave safe?
It depends on what you buy. Always check the manufacturer label for the designation “microwave-safe.” Beyond that, most tempered glass can withstand freezing and microwaving, but soda-glass is for cold beverages only. Glass with metal trim or colored sections need to be treated with care. Metal can spark in the microwave and cause the glass to shatter. Dyes used to color glass can also be adversely affected by heating.
The easiest way to know is if you check the label, but in the absence of warnings, you can perform a simple test for microwave readiness. Add some water to your glass, and put it in the microwave for a minute. Remove from the microwave carefully and check the water temperature versus the vessel temperature. The water should be hotter. If the glass is hot, it is safe to say microwaving should be avoided.
Also, be sure to check for cracks or imperfections on microwave-safe glasses. Any mark can lead to a glass breaking when exposed to extreme temperatures.
How do you clean cloudy drinking glasses?
Hard water is usually the culprit when cloudy spots show up on drinking glasses. The high mineral content calcifies on glasses causing that cloudy finish. Luckily, there is an easy and affordable solution. A 30-minute soak in a solution of white vinegar and water, or even straight white vinegar if spots are tough, should dissolve the mineral deposits. If cloudiness remains, you could also gently scrub glasses with baking soda to remove any clinging mineral residue. Be sure to hand wash, rinse and dry when finished.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Carrie Honaker is a food and beverage writer who has more glassware than one human should own. As a restaurateur and avid entertainer, she knows the importance of finding the right glassware for your needs and lifestyle. She loves her Jupiter Hobnail glasses for all manner of cocktail creations but thinks her Bodega glasses might be the MVP of multipurpose drinkware. Her work has appeared in many publications including Bon Appetit, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast.
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