Mastro Making of: Bourbon Toast and Char Glasses

Charring Bourbon Barrels-the inside of the barrel is set on fire to create a black charred layer

Charring Bourbon Barrels-the inside of the barrel is set on fire to create a black charred layer

Design Inspiration

....Stored at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers

Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco Products and Firearms
Subpart C—Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits

To help prevent shady characters from slapping “bourbon” on any caramel colored rotgut, the federal government created guidelines to legally define bourbon whiskey.

 One of those requirements is that all bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels.  Coopers use staves and hoops to build barrels that are toasted from the inside to around 450 degrees.  Next they are charred on an open flame at up to 1500 degrees.



Concepts and Features

A dedicated glass to reference the unique processes used to create bourbon.


  • Narrow neck with flared rim allow the aromas to gather in the glass
  • A wide base to allow for a couple of good swirls to mix with the air
  • Heavy base for stability
  • Stronger sides and rim to avoid chipping
  • Cut away base to help break the surface tension on wet surfaces


  • Outside profile follows the same curve of a bourbon barrel
  • A "flame" at the bottom of each glass.  Another reference to the process but more importantly a feature that makes each glass one of a kind and difficult to replicate in a production 


Mastro Bourbon Toast and Char Glass

Mastro Bourbon Toast and Char Glass

Photoshop mock up of the Flames captured in the base of the glass     

Photoshop mock up of the Flames captured in the base of the glass


Mock up design

How does one explain that they want to look into a glass and see a flame?  

Part of the challenge was to bring together concepts I've only ever seen in art glass with a functional item.

In the basement of the Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery 15 you'll find their paperweight collection.  There you'll find everything from intricate flowers patterns to faces captured in glass.  After visiting studios from Murano to Seattle it only seemed reasonable that a flame could be captured in the solid base of a cocktail glass.

After finding a willing development partner in glass artist Cory Silverman in Colorado he set to work.    

Flame and Color Testing

Reds are difficult...

The key effect I wanted was to capture the look of flames smoldering inside the glass.  For the first series of tests Cory used a mixture of colors to mimic the colors of a flame.  Problem is that different colors react differently under heat and with each other.  

In prototype #10(shown right) the red turned into a rusty brown.  However the colors dissipated nicely and captured the flame licking the side of the glass.

Next step was to isolate the red from the other colors and repeat the effect.  If you were going to paint flames you might use a blend of reds, oranges and yellows.  With the lighter colors they tend to dissipate into the clear glass quickly.  It's closed to drops of food coloring into a glass of water.  Lighter colors dissipate quickly and don't have enough contrast

Flame and color prototype #10

Flame and color prototype #10

Heres a version using the orange red

Too dissipated 

Just right


Creating the consistent form