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What are Cordial Glasses?

Shannon Kietzman
Shannon Kietzman

Cordial glasses are drinking vessels created specifically for cordials, which are sweet, fruit-flavored beverages. Some examples of cordial beverages are made under the brand names of Golden Circle and Cottees. A true cordial does not contain alcohol and is diluted with water to achieve the flavor, or the level of sweetness, desired. These beverages are particularly popular in New Zealand and Australia.

In many cases, cordial glasses are used for alcoholic beverages as well. This is particularly true in the United States, where they are commonly used in bars and taverns. In this capacity, the glasses are available in a wide variety of shapes and colors. In fact, the term has come to be used to describe essentially any glass drinking vessel with a stem.

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Woman baking cookies

Some cordial glasses have handles rather than stems. They may also have short stems along with handles. In either case, the handles are typically small and dainty. This differentiates these glasses from coffee mugs and beer mugs, which have large handles designed for a several fingers to fit inside. With cordial glasses, the handle should only be grasped lightly from the outside.

They are often made with clear glass, but many are also tinted with a variety of colors. In fact, cordial glasses can be found tinted with reds, greens, and yellows. Some sets include glasses in a variety of colors and shapes.

Selecting cordial glasses when planning a social event can be somewhat daunting, as they have the ability to set the mood for the gathering. In addition, certain drinks are better suited to certain types of glasses. For example, a fruity drink that will contain an umbrella or a slice of lemon on the side is best suited for glasses with tall, thin stems. Similarly, this look is best for a tropical get together or a formal event. For a more laid back get together, however, glasses with shorter or thicker stems may be more appropriate.

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Discussion Comments


It's true, I grew up in New Zealand drinking Raro which was our most popular fruit cordial.

It was just a powdered drink in different flavors (although they all seemed pretty similar!) that we would have with ice cubes in the summer. I always wanted it with slightly too much water, because I didn't like it too sweet.

Now I find it much tastier to pour off the liquid left behind after making stewed fruit (usually for a crumble or pie). It's usually too thick to drink straight as a cordial, but if you mix it with still or sparkling water and pour it into some drinking glasses it can be quite delicious.

I think it is probably much healthier than drinking powdered cordial drinks as well.


@anon62271 - It's true alcohol was a safe way to store liquid and calories without poisoning yourself. But, I often wonder how people managed, considering that they didn't eat much fruit either and alcohol can be very dehydrating.

I think they most drank ale or wine regularly rather than liquors and cordials, because these would be much less dehydrating.

I think having antique cordial glasses would be fantastic though. It would really add to the atmosphere at a party.


Thanks. this was so helpful!


in the 18th century a cordial glass was usually tall around 61/2" with small bowl of an once or less, one example holds only 10ml having a deceptive bowl for use by a toast master.

it was not unlike a liquor of today and highly alcoholic, as was it was normal in those times to drink only alcoholic beverages as the water could be fatal, especially in london in the 1700s.

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