This was the original Champagne glass! Famously believed to be modeled after a French Queen’s body part, was actually introduced a century before her time - in 1663! It lost popularity as a vessel for sparkling wines because the bubbles dissipated too quickly into the nose. The flute soon became the preferred glass for that purpose. However, the coupe got a big boost in popularity from the post-prohibited United States in the 1930’s as the original cocktail glass. [See the famous picture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt toasting the end of Prohibition with a Martini!]
The coupe is used for any drink that is served “up”, such as the Martini, Manhattan, Sidecar, Whiskey Sour, Gin Fizz. There’s never any ice in this glass - and every cocktail that is poured out of a tin and into a coupe should be double-strained.
Generally, it’s a good indication of the quality of cocktail you might expect from an establishment if you see coupe glasses lined up at the bar. First, you’ll see that people are drinking cocktails (not just beer), but second, you’ll know that the bar takes its glassware seriously. The ‘Martini’ glass with the wide, sharp, cone-like shape gained popularity in the 1980’s as bartenders were adding more ingredients, cocktails like the Cosmopolitan came around and everything was about being bigger, better, and wackier then ever. The ‘Martini’ glass proved to be more fun than functional, as it turns out, and it was a fad that led to a lot of spilled drinks and broken glass! For years, bars would stock up on Martini glasses that measured anywhere from 5 to 10 liquid ounces at the top - imagine what a proper Gimlet (2oz Gin, ½ oz lime juice, ½ oz simple syrup, shaken with ice) would look like in a glass that big!