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November 9, 2009

Let's talk mugs for a minute

mugsI'd like to take a minute and talk about mugs, gang.

You might not agree with me, but I'm gonna put it out there: Glassware can make or break your bar experience.

If you get a chipped glass, it's over. If you get a mug, it's on!

Mugs up the ante -- especially when you're not expecting them. There is no better way to drink a cold beer than in a big, frosty mug. The giant glasses at Don't Know/No Idea come in second. But mugs still dominate the glassware family.

Think about it. When you walk into a new bar, the first things you notice are the decor and the crowd. Both those things are important. So is the service. But the glassware is huge ...

When I talk about certain bars -- like Down the Hatch -- one of the first things I mention is how they serve beer in frozen mugs. Mmm.

Recently, some friends and I dropped by the new Banners in Locust Point. I'll write more about that place later. I do want to mention this, though: Banners serves beer in mugs. Big mugs. Mugs that you can clink against other mugs. Mugs that you can slam down on the bar with manly might. Manly mugs.

I can only think of a few other places off the top of my head that have mugs: Down the Hatch is one. Muggsy's Mug House (the owners felt so strongly about mugs they named their place after it) is one.

What are some others?

(Photo by Shankman)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:50 AM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Recently I was horribly disappointed when, at a bar in Northern Va, (dont hate, I was there for a band) I was served Guinness Draught in a PLASTIC CUP!!!
EWWW!!! So gross.... I asked for one of the Guinness glasses tauntingly lined up behind the bar and was denied.
I guess it was a "safety issue," whatever...
It was sacreligious...

Amen Sam. Mugs are THE best beer glassware. With a mug your body heat doesn't warm up the beer at all. Seriously, they are the best. Beer in stemware? That's the worst.

I would also note that I enjoy the whiskey/lemonade drinks served out of milk bottles and mason jars at Rub - I stick a few Mason jars in the freezer every once in a while when i have drinks at home and it's totally rad.

Frozen mugs are used when the beer served in them has no flavor at best.

I disagree strongly. Frozen mugs = perpetuating the stereotype that beer has to be served as cold as possible. I have refused many a "frozen" mug in my day. Hey, I'm buying beer because it tastes good, not because I want to freeze and numb my taste buds, dagnabbit. Lagers should be served at 40-50 degrees F, ales at "cellar temperature" (45-55 degrees F). What's next, pouring red wine into frozen glasses?

Pub Dog

I like my red wine on the rocks, my Slurpies warm, and orange juice steaming.

Studies have shown that beer tastes best when consumed using a funnel and plastic tubing.

It's a fact.

OK, Alexander D. Mitchell IV -- how about a happy medium, where the bar asks you if you want your mug frozen or not? HMMM?

JD, wow, how could I have forgotten about Pub Dog?

BA, Marvelous! This innovative device you speak of -- does it have a name?

Beer stein, litre size. You have to hold it through the handle gripping the glass. This reduces the spillage when you're "prost"-ing and cheering the oompa band. That's probably why German's don't have Miller Lite.

I believe the kids have another name for it, but I like to call it the "Beer Flavor Bigifier."

ordering a good beer in a frozen mug is like ordering a steak well-done.

Frozen mugs = perpetuating the stereotype that beer has to be served as cold as possible. I have refused many a "frozen" mug in my day. Hey, I'm buying beer because it tastes good, not because I want to freeze and numb my taste buds,

What he said.

How about getting some whiskey neat in a proper glass? That glass is perfectly cylindrical, clear, smooth with a heavy thick bottom. Something with heft. I went to one fancy bar where I was served a Jameson in freakin' square glass with bumpy texture. Square? Come on.

Most bars choose their glassware for the convenience of the bartender or bar. That crappy wine glass that you serve both red and white wine in? It's not good for either. Whiskey glasses that are think, have no heft and are conical so that you can stack them? Pppppppppppppppppffffffff......

Stemless wine glasses? Fail. The owner of Riedel invented them for his sailboat. Unless this bar's a rockin', I want the classic wine glass. You bought them for your bar because they break less. We hate them.

And don't sell me a "pint" of beer in your phony 12 ounce glass. Honestly, I don't think 4 out of 5 Americans know what a pint is.

Glassware matters.

I will take a frozen mug over a beer that is too warm...I'm sorry, but we're not drinking British bitters...beers should be cold with plenty of CO2....Don't Know has an amazing brew selection, but their beers always seem a few degrees too warm, and it also seems like their lines are dirty...always a pet peeve for Baltimore Liquid.

But yes, the proper glassware is crucial to a solid drinking I'm going to blow everyone's mind:

In a cocktail, the ice is just as crucial. Ie if you are drinking a bourbon on the rocks, solid, cubed ice is the best (as it melts slower), and the reverse is true for many mixed cocktails, such as crushes, screwdrivers, etc. I was at a bar in the Haight in San Fran that had an ice selection on the drink menu. bad@$$.

Witness: ordering a Hendricks and Soda with cucumber @ Idle Hour: straight-side highball glass, solid ice...see you in the emergency room after 9 or 10 of them.

An ice menu? My mind = blown. Can I have the kitchen prepare S-shaped ice cubes?

Also, I'll ditto Owl Meat's comment about stemless wine glasses. Incredibly lame, they are.

I think most mugs are way too heavy.
Girl's got small hands here.

BL is right about ice shape/size! (Strangely enough, ReadyMade has spent a lot of page space on this subject lately.) ...Though I dunno, having a menu for ice strikes me as a bit precious (and this is *me* talking, so...yikes.)

However, the truth will out: Sessa has been known to partake in a stemless wine glasses...or at least a certain former roommate's cognac glasses...when stems where unavailable.

(Oh yeah, I went there. Now where's a frosty mug so I can getta lil clink for my zink!?)

20oz. Mugs could be nice???

I am a big fan of crushed ice, when my ice machine goes up, that's what I want. It serves to points, people love crushed ice and you use less soda in the drink so the customer drinks it faster.

Straws are also very important. I just borrowed the Abbey's milkshake straw's for my own. Thanks Russ.

Can someone better explain the hate for stemless wineglasses? I prefer them.

i can hear both sides of the story when it comes to mugs. if i'm drinking an "american lager" (i.e. miller, bud light, fill in blank) i guess i prefer a mug, preferably chilled.

but when it comes to something a bit more exotic it's nice to get it in it's proper glassware to accentuate it's smell/head/flavor

haha...i just said...


my greatest weekend of the year when it comes to beer glassware has to be german beer festival weekend at max's. somehow they are able to get all the authentic oktoberfest beer mugs (massive) and boots for the event. my question is how do they do it? rent it? buy it, then store it for a whole year? i think those things are pretty expensive

As far as bars that use mugs, I think the 3 for $5 (or is it $6 now) 10oz beers at Wharf Rat are served in mugs.

With regard to frosted vs room temperature glass, I'm with ryan97ou. I love Yuengling when it's ice cold, but I like heavier stouts and IPAs to warm a bit. Not TOO warm (i.e. room temperature), but I can tell the difference in flavor when they're allowed to warm a little above the "ice cold" mark.

I prefer stemless wine glasses, especially when drinking wine at home. Less chance of having a red wine disaster.

"I will take a frozen mug over a beer that is too warm...I'm sorry, but we're not drinking British bitters..."

Yes, I am. I sure as HELL am.

Baltimore Liquid-

I put a call in to get my lines cleaned. The beer companies usually do it once a month, but I will have them come out again to make sure that they are cleaned.

Warm beer foams and doesn't pour properly, I also have a glass chiller and most of our glasses are kept chilled unless it is busy. I apologize if you got a warm beer, it could've been the glass but it definitely isn't the beer. And I don't babysit the line cleaners, I just hope they come out to do their job. However thanks for bringing it to my attention as I want clean lines and fresh and cold beer. Feel free to contact me if this ever happens again.


Jason Z

Pub Dog (I still call it Thirsty Dog in my head) has mugs. It's a sight to behold when ordering 2-for-1 beers for a crowd and the waitress handles 12 mugs at a time.

If it hasn't already been said, The Greene Turtle has some special where if you pay a one-time fee, they hold your mug for you with your own personalized number and EVERY drink is the same fixed price for your mug, like $3, cheaper than any specials and if the specials are less than that of course it would be the same price for the mug.

I prefer stemless wine glasses, especially when drinking wine at home.

I drinks my wine from an old pill jar

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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