I recently found this 1934 ad, above, for Martini & Rossi Vermouth. What captured my attention was the neat little cocktail setup with those frosted cocktail glasses (which, by the way, were available at Bergdorf's). I'm not used to seeing Martinis and Manhattans served in thick, stemless glasses like those in the ad, and I have to say that they're not what I would use when serving cocktails. I can only imagine that the cocktail would become warm if the glass was held for any length of time.
One nice thing about the glasses, though, was that they were the proper size for a cocktail. Back during the 1930s and 40s, cocktail glasses were small and light enough that you could hold the stem using just a few fingers. Not anymore. Cocktail and martini glasses today are enormous, as big as Alfie's head, in fact! And they require a whole hand grip, too. The problem with these large glasses is that they hold too much cocktail. The urge is to fill these big glasses with enough cocktail so as not to appear chintzy. Only problem is that by the time you finish your drink, you've had the equivalent of two cocktails- not a good thing if you're serving drinks before dinner.
Ideally, a cocktail glass should hold between 4.5 and 5 ounces of liquid. While it's worth seeking out vintage cocktail glasses for both their jazzy designs and their economical sizes, there are, fortunately, some new collections that include correctly sized glasses too. William Yeoward's glassware is never super-sized, but that might be because he's British. His new American Bar collection is quite handsome and affordable too. But if you insist on drinking from those monster 12 oz. glasses, fine. Just don't blame me in the morning.
William Yeoward's Greta glassware includes a 5 oz. martini glass.
William Yeoward's Vesta glasses are the appropriate sizes for the beverages they were designed to hold, including martinis and champagne. (These are not, by the way, part of the new American Bar collection.)
C. 1930 Mappin & Webb set of cocktail glasses, available through Foundwell.