Empire Glass

Tim Copeland

The gestalt of the Empire Glass is the concept of “cuisine de terroir” as it is informed by the heritage of the spirit, Applejack and the upstate New York history of apple growing. The Empire Glass respects the rituals of experiencing fine Cognac and aims to bring Applejack, a powerfully American spirit, into that canon.


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Design Statement

The Empire Glass addresses the need for a reconsidered Brandy drinking vessel; a glass that speaks the local dialect. The dialect is Applejack and it is part of the language of upstate New York; the craft distilling movement, apple-growing, and heritage. The Empire Glass intentionally considers the economic potential to the region of Applejack, fine apple brandy, analogous to Cognac in France. The design is influenced as well by the context of the interaction between a designer and the artisans the Glass Lab of the Corning Museum of Glass.


My research for this design included studies of glass vessel designs available from the library archives at the CMOG. I explored existing iconic vessels associated with Brandy and worked to understand their particular attributes and functions. I also did studies of the forms and elements of various apple varieties commonly grown in the upstate region; hence the moniker “Empire”.

Refined – The Empire Glass is a refinement of the iconic Cognac snifter form.
Ritual – The Empire Glass draws on the rituals of experiencing fine brandy.
Terroir – The Empire Glass reflects the concept of “terroir” – simply put, the flavor of the land is in the taste of the fruits of that land.


There are three main inspirations to the Empire Glass. First is the Cognac snifter. Second is Applejack. I learned that one of the first things that early Colonists made in America upon discovering the land’s abundance of apples was apple cider. From that, America’s first hard spirit was born as Colonists turned apple cider into hard cider and distilled that into Applejack. The third inspiration was the interaction with the glass artisans from Corning Museum of Glass.