The Lazy Man’s Guide to Chilling Cocktail Glasses

standard December 14, 2014 Leave a response

Chilling Cocktail GlassesI’ve always heard that chilling glassware before serving cocktails is a critical component to getting the best possible result. From storing glasses in the freezer to liquid nitrogen there seems to be an unlimited number of methods to chill a glass. But I’m lazy and they all sound like a lot of work. So I set out to create The Lazy Man’s Guide to Chilling Cocktail Glasses.

Thankfully, I found some great resources that look at the fastest ways to chill a cocktail glass so as a Cocktail Novice I’m going to defer to the experts. I don’t have all the gear, freezer space or patience in the world, so I’m going to approach this with a little common sense and assume that we’re preparing cocktails at home for a couple friends using a stemmed cocktail glass.

Why Chill a Cocktail Glass?

Before diving deeper, it’s wise to determine why glassware should be chilled. Simply put, it’s a matter of personal preference. Most people find that cocktails are more enjoyable when they’re cold, and chilling the glassware before pouring the drink will keep it cold for a longer period of time.

Sounds like common sense, right? Well Frederic Yarm proved it out here:

Glass Temperature Affect on Cocktails

Glass Temperature Affect on Cocktails

Among the many conclusions of this experiment detailing the effect glassware temperature has on a cocktail: Un-chilled glassware is not the way to go when you prefer a cold drink.

Methods to Chill Cocktail Glasses

Needless to say there are plenty of methods you can use in chilling cocktail glasses; from a lazy man’s perspective some make sense and some are non-starters. So let’s dive in:

Chilling Cocktail Glasses with IceIce in Glass

About as simple as it gets, fill your glass with ice. Obviously smaller pieces would be ideal to maximize the amount of contact the ice has with the glass.

Chilling Cocktail Glasses With Ice and WaterIce Water in Glass

Ok. This doesn’t require much more effort that simply putting ice in the glass. No additional explanation required.

Chilling Glasses in the FreezerKeep Glassware in the Freezer

Easy to do, simply store cocktail glasses in the freezer. Unfortunately the misguided priorities for most people focus on food storage, so this may be a stretch for some.

Chilling Glasses in the FreezerFreezer Fan

Kevin Liu  includes this approach in The Fastest Way to Chill a Cocktail Glass and it makes sense to me.  Simply place the glass in front of the freezer fan (if you have room) to use convection to chill the glass. He mentions that it’ll take about 2 minutes.

Chilling Cocktail Glasses with Wet Towel MethodChilled Towel in Freezer

Another approach suggested by Kevin is wrapping a moistened paper towel tightly around a cocktail glass and placing it in the freezer, This technique uses evaporation to cool the glass surface and will chill it down to 35° f in 3 minutes.

Chilling Cocktail Glasses with Frozen Vodka MethodFreezer Vodka

Still one more method offered by Kevin Liu is the use of chilled vodka as a “poor man’s liquid nitrogen.” While filling a glass with vodka will chill it down quickly, it may impart an undesirable vodka flavor to your drink.

Best Lazy Ways to Chill Cocktail Glasses

While the best way to chill a cocktail glass depends on your situation, I think it’s pretty easy to figure out your best bet. If freezer space is available the Lazy Man would store cocktail glasses there, but since that’s unlikely the best options are:

  1. Water & Ice in a Glass – Assuming your freezer is as congested as mine, this approach is simple and will achieve the coldest temperature the fastest (5 minutes) without spending a bunch of time rearranging the contents of your freezer. Check out another Frederic Yarm glass cooling experiment here for proof.
  2. Chilled Towel – Although it requires freezer space and some effort, Kevin’s method will get your cocktail glass down to 35° f in 3 minutes.
  3. Freezer Fan – A good alternative since it chilled the glass in 2 minutes, but it requires freezer space and didn’t provide specifics on the temperature achieved.


Suburban adventurer, beer lover and Cocktail Novice, Bill has a variety of interests including cooking, blogging and "bad" surfing. If you're keen to connect, give him a shout on Twitter.