Last Updated on September 17, 2023 by The Noms
Find out about the new store on our site that we have curated just for YOU! We have been sourcing vintage glassware for your own home bar, and we can’t wait for you to check it out!
We have an announcement! In case you aren’t following us on social media, (or even if you are, and missed it) we have started a vintage glassware and barware part of our blog and business. Jay and I are super excited to share this with you. We have been on the hunt for fun vintage finds for YOU! We hope to highlight unique pieces, vintage crystal glassware and mid century barware!
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If you haven’t noticed in our recipe posts, we LOVE vintage glassware. We usually lean towards clear glasses because it highlights the color of our cocktails more, but at home, we love using colored glassware. There are so many different styles, shapes and colors to be had.
Our love of vintage glassware stems from our love of cocktails. Cocktails have been around for a long time. In 1862, The Bon Vivant’s Companion (Jerry Thomas’s Bartenders Guide) was published as a guide to make drinks. Cocktails and other drinks have created glassware in all different shapes and sizes, like coupes, Collins glasses, rocks glasses, copper mule mugs, and tumblers.
There are also wine glasses in many myriad of shapes and sizes from cordials for sherry and port, balloon snifters for brandy, and wide mouthed red wine glasses that allow wines to breathe. For those with money, even from the late 19th Century through the early 20th century, there would be a myriad of glasses on a table for fancy dinners across the pond and in American homes.
But, since that time period old sets of glassware have been packed away in boxes in basements or attics. They sat unused for years. If no one in the family wanted these vintage wine glasses or vintage coupe glasses, they were often donated to thrift shops or thrown away.
However, glass (especially clear glass) seems to be experiencing a comeback. A new generation (our age and younger) are realizing “they don’t make things like this anymore” does apply to fine glassware. I don’t know about you, but you can’t find such gorgeous or whimsical sets of glasses in big box stores. Second hand glassware brings vintage mid century drinking glasses, antique cocktail glasses, different patterns and rare vintage barware sets.
Our website and social media is filled to the brim with many pieces of our vintage glassware as we can use. We try to invite you readers into our house with curated photos using our vintage glassware in our recipes. We have some displayed and curated, but let’s be honest, the lower shelves in our bar that no one sees are a mess! (And on countertops, our fireplace, etc).
Jay and I have developed a love of all things vintage and are in love with rescuing hidden treasures that might otherwise be thrown away or broken. We love old ice buckets, citrus reamers, metal and glass coasters (did you even know they made those?) bar tools, and more! Which is so much more than just vintage glassware, but we think the 2 go hand in hand. And, we want you to have access to this fun, vintage barware, too!
Which is why we decided to open a shop to have a curated collection of both vintage barware for sale and vintage glassware sets for you to have from us to you!
The types of barware are various and wide. We don’t have everything listed on the site, yet, but here are the categories we have/will have!
- Glassware – obviously. This is where it all started. And there are so many sub-types of glassware too! Can’t wait for you to look at it all!
- Cocktail Shakers & Mixing Glasses – needed for making cocktail recipes!
- Ice Buckets and Tongs – great to keep your ice cold, and even better on a bar cart if it is colorful or decorated. A great vintage touch! There are glass, metal or plastic options!
- Bar Tools – jiggers, muddlers, strainers, knives & cutting boards, tongs, citrus peelers, citrus reamers, bar spoons, etc.
- Decanters – perfect for wine, bourbon and whiskies. Stylish option for any home bar or bar cart.
- Other Bar Gear – like coasters – glass, plastic, metal and wood.
- Kitchy Items – glass and plastic kitschy swizzle sticks, cocktail picks, cocktail napkins, straws and drink tags.
Do you need to have fancy vintage glasses at home? Well no, but they made a drink look so cool, so yes, you should! Plus, the most important thing to remember is don’t just look at your beautiful glassware, you need to use it. We think a cocktail tastes better in a fancy glass. It’s science.
If you have been making cocktails at home for sometime, or even just getting in to it, (we are glad you are here!) drinking out of the same glasses over and over gets boring. Different glasses are made for different drinks.
Different Types of Vintage Glassware
If your heart pitter-patters over the soft pastels of Depression glassware, or you adore the bold, bright colors of carnival glass, it’s a guarantee that somewhere out there is a style that suits your tastes and maybe bring back childhood memories, like green and brown glass does for us.
We think that vintage glassware instantly ups the ante of any stylish home bar. The lower shelf of a bar cart can be filled with a set of colorful vintage tumblers or tall highballs. Or line up some colorful juice glasses or coupes on a bar shelf! Display them where they can be seen, especially if they are bright colored. You can even display in a display cabinet with mirrors or backlighting them to play make them shine.
Retro glasses are all the rage, with colorful prints, cute animals, and patterns to highlight signature cocktails. There are many different brands, and when we think we know them all, we find out new names of vintage glassware to find! The US has a rich history of vintage glasses being made in our country, from the late 1800’s on, there were a lot of companies that focused on super neat colored glass, etched glass and even delicate crystal. A lot of these merged to become brands that we know today.
We have split our vintage glassware offerings by category, depending what cocktails you make most often. There are cocktail coupes, martini glasses and more for those classic cocktails. Or nice heavy Old Fashioned and rocks glasses perfect for those “on the rocks” drinks. But, tumblers, highballs, tiny juice glasses and cordial glasses can be used for cocktail recipes, too!
Just like everything in the world of cocktails, select your glassware based on the drinks you like to drink! If you only make negronis at home? Well, then buy yourself a nice set of rocks glasses and you’re done. You can slowly grow your glass collection as you try out new cocktail recipes and expand your inventory of alcohol, too!
How to Use Your Vintage Glassware
Some great tips that we try to use in taking advantage of our vintage glassware collection that we think will work for you:
- Setting the Table – Consider a set of colorful water glasses to make them pop. Or, how about a seasonal themed tumbler to make sure to be on trend.
- Patterns – match your patterned glassware to your dishes or even napkins, table runner or chargers. Set some fun patterned juice glasses next to the bed for guests to have some water. Or, use a fun glass as a pencil holder on your desk, or as a bud vase!
- Mismatching – don’t feel like you can’t mix and match these pieces, either. We totally think you can. Whether that’s 2 different pink coupes with different shapes on the same table, or different green goblets, they can work together. Or even, flower patterned glasses that are in the same family, and will compliment each other on the tablescape! Also, use pieces that are clear glass from chunky and heavy, along with super thin light crystal. Different sizes work together, too.
- Matching Sets – there are still matching sets out there for sure! Don’t think you have to mismatch! There are glass ice buckets and glasses to match, and even with matching cocktail shakers! There are pitcher and glass sets, perfect for juice in the morning, or a punch in the evening.
We know the current photography trends embrace all things white in food photography: white marble, white plates, bright backgrounds. Or, there is dark photography: moody, wood toned, a bright spotlight on the object. We definitely make sure that the glasses and props stand out. When taking pictures, we don’t want boring white or no color. We want you to have an emotional reaction to our photos if we can, as well as pops of color.
Caring for Vintage Glassware and Vintage Barware
No matter what your favorite glassware is, if it has the same color all over, bright colored patterns, or is hand etched with a gold rim, hand-washing is best for any vintage glassware. Dishwashers are too hard on vintage glassware, especially if your water is hard, it will leave water spots, and can cause what is called etching. This is basically scratches on the glass, and those cannot be removed. These etchings are caused by the abrasives found in most dishwasher detergents. Etching equals cloudiness. Boo!
I hate when we are looking for glassware and have to come across sad looking, foggy glasses that can’t be fixed. I almost cry.
Dishwashers can also wear off paint and patterns. So, take the time to wash your favorite glasses in some warm soapy water, rinse and hand-dry them. Don’t stack glasses in the sink, or pile too many in at once. They can clink or bang together, and that is the easiest way to get fleabites and rim chips. Same goes for barware – hand-wash those citrus reamers, ice buckets, coasters and more to keep them fresh and spotless.
So, repeat after me “I will Never, NEVER wash my vintage glassware in the dishwasher!”
Colored Vintage Glass Pieces
If you like the solid color vintage glassware like we do, there is a rainbow of colors to pick from. Amber-hued glass has been around for centuries and good reason. Did you know amber tinted glass helps block UV rays, which is why there are a lot of old medicine bottles of this color. During the 1940s up through the 1970s, colored glass (i.e. “Carnival” and “Depression”) regained popularity. As a result, you can find many patterns of dishware ranging from pale yellow to rich brown.
We think this color is perfect for fall tables, they can add warmth. Red glass or dark green glass is perfect for Christmas, Pink glass for Easter, blue for 4th of July or Memorial Day, see where I am going with this?
Where to find Vintage Glassware
Now, as we said, we have a curated collection of items for you in our store, but if you are wanting to look for vintage pieces yourself, we can help. We have spent a lot of time at sales and locations this summer looking for alllll the vintage finds. Some of these places include:
- Estate Sales – these do take some planning to get to, we like to use estatesales.net to see where they are in our area. And you usually need to plan time on the weekends or later in the week to show up early to get in line. A lot of estate sales give out numbers so you enter in numerical order, and the earlier you get there, the better your number and getting items is!
- Thrift Stores or Flea Markets – these can be more expensive, but give lots of options. Especially if you are located in an area with older residents.
- Garage Sales – very hit and miss. But, we have found some good and cheap items, but very rare.
- Online Auctions – easy to find what you are looking for, but sometimes hard to find in your area. And, you may have to drive to do pick ups, or have it shipped to you. But, you may get a great deal at a good price.
- Antique Shops – these can be more expensive, but if there are certain items you are hunting for, you may find them easier in an antique store or antique mall.
- Happy Hour Vintage – obviously, this is a shameless plus, but that’s what this whole blog post is about, right? Our online store is full of items ready and waiting for you! In this case, you don’t have to do the looking, we have done the hard work for you!
Or, you can have us curate your collection for you at Happy Hour Vintage! If you do go looking at sales, remember that fanciful sets or elegant gold rimmed crystal will add elegance to your table. If there isn’t a full set, or an odd number, remember you can mix patterns and styles!
How do you know they are vintage? Great question. There is usually a “mark” on the bottom of the glasses, which is the glass manufacturer logo. This could be Anchor Hocking (with an anchor), Libbey, usually with a curvy L, or Federal glass with an F surrounded by a shield shape.
Other Vintage Items
In the future we will be adding more categories – more glassware for entertaining like relish trays, bowls, small serving bowls, plates and more! As well as vintage items like snack trays, glass cake stands and punch cups, vintage bar decor, cocktail garnish items (cocktail picks, umbrellas and such), and vintage cookbooks.
We already have some new things on the site, like our “Rescuer of Whiskey Trapped in Bottles” t-shirts (gray or black) and our Gastronom stocking caps. So, those are available too, if you want to wear items because you love us so much! And more will be added of those too!
Are old glasses worth it? That’s a subjective question. We think so – and there are some Culver and Georges Briard glasses that I am definitely on the hunt for. But, we are trying to be “mid-range” on our pricing. Not top level, and not super cheap. Just average and we want it to be worth it for you to find something that you like!
We hope this has been helpful, and we hope you head on over to Happy Hour Vintage and place an order for your own vintage glassware or vintage barware. If you do, feel free to use the code GLASSWARE to get 10% off of your order!
Cheers! Jay and Leah
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