Question of the day, what exactly is a rocks glass and why would you want one? The major confusion comes from the name “rocks glass” as it can also be called an “old fashioned,” “whisky” or “lowball” glass. The rocks glass is a short glass vessel/container, also known as a tumbler, which holds between 4-10 fluid ounces.
Most folks use a rocks glass for spirits that are poured over ice, also known as “on the rocks.” The glass works well for distilled spirits standing alone in a glass because four ounces is typically all that one needs. I also utilize rocks glasses for drinks that are super sweet and can be overwhelming in large doses.
It’s not uncommon to use the name “old fashioned” when pouring into rocks style glassware. The definition is quite blurry as a rocks glass that goes by the name old fashioned may be an eight ounce container. Of course, you can then find a container that goes by the name “rocks glass” that holds ten ounces of liquid!
In general, the rocks, lowball and old fashioned are all going to fit the needs of the drinker and have common sizes. Drinks served “neat” (without ice) may be served in a rocks glass going by the name old fashioned. The rule of thumb, a glass with a fancy exterior and a tapered bottom is generally regarded as an old fashioned glass.
The rocks glass probably became known as an old fashion when it was used to create an Old Fashioned Cocktail, one of six basic drinks found in the Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury. The book is very old and has become a bible of sorts in the cocktail industry so the definition for an Old Fashioned Glass will remain an industry naming convention.
If you’re lucky, a cocktail recipe book you have will stick with a standard naming convention for this vessel, often choosing old-fashioned or rocks as their glassware name of choice. We, at Common Man Cocktails, tend to call it a lowball as it makes sense, size wise, when compared to the highball glassware.
If you’re looking to find a few good quality rocks glasses we suggest you checkout AwesomeDrinks.com and their 6 ounce “Old Fashioned” glasses.