What are Bistro Glasses?

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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2019
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Bistro glasses are drinking glasses intended for, or to reflect the style of, a semi-casual restaurant environment. The term is used broadly to cover a range of drinking glasses, though it most often refers to a basic tumbler. Bistro glasses may be used for spirits, beer, juices, and even wine.

A bistro is a type of café that aims for a mid-level clientele. Bistros are meant to be affordable and not to have the intimidating environment of many formal restaurants. Bistros are widely found in France, where they specialize in unpretentious, hearty meals. In America, they have gained in popularity, offering an alternative to the traditional “greasy spoon” diner, without being exorbitantly expensive or requiring formal attire.

Bistro glasses, then, are the sorts of glasses one would find in such a place. Usually simple glass, perhaps with some basic patterning, bistro glasses are meant to be nicer than plastic or extremely cheap glasses, but not so nice that breaking one would be a tragedy for a restaurant or home. A bistro glass is the sort of glass one would gladly use to serve water, juice, tea, or any other number of drinks — saving nicer glasses for wines and cocktails.


Most commonly, bistro glasses are basic tumblers of the sort used to serve orange juice, or perhaps cocktails in a fairly laid-back setting. Some bistro glasses make use of simple patterning, such as geometric dimples or waves, to dress up the look of the glass and to give it some texture for grip. Most bistro glasses are a simple clear glass, but some use colored glass to provide a sense of exoticism and to liven up their appearance.

Bistro glasses usually range in cost from one or two US dollars (USD) to somewhere around 10 USD, depending on the type of glass. Many drinkware suppliers offer mid-range versions of classic glass shapes that they label as “bistro glasses” to indicate their level of quality and versatility of use. Therefore, it is not surprising to find bistro glasses that are also whiskey glasses, pilsner glasses, martini glasses, and even various wine glasses. Even specialized shapes, however, such as a Riesling or Chardonnay glass, rarely cost more than 10 USD.

Bistro glasses are ideal to have available as extra drinkware for entertaining large numbers of people, to bring out for children, or simply to serve as an affordable alternative to more expensive glasses. They are a wonderful compromise between shoddy glassware that will crack from temperature shifts and break easily and expensive glassware that may be out of one’s budget.


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