Reason to celebrate

Reason to celebrate

OuiHours explains the origins of this much sought after celebratory vessel. Pictured here: our Deuce Coupe

  • Photography by Torkil Gudnason
  • Story by Linnea Covington
  • Exclusive for oui hours gmt

There has long been a sense of elegance and mystery surrounding the delicate coupe. As one ponders its saucer-like shape and dimpled bottom where the stem meets the cup, it’s easy to see how this glass got a reputation for being modeled after a woman’s breast.


The perfect breast, some say, and half a dozen ladies are rumored to have been the muse. Ancient starlets including Louis XV’s mistress Madame du Barry, Napoleon’s wife Empress Josephine, Diane de Poitiers, a courtier at the court of Francis I, the 1930s model and photographer Lee Miller, and even the original glamour girl Helen of Troy have been the subject of origin. But most famously the coupe’s breast-like shape gets credited to Marie Antoinette, the wife of Louie XVI and celebrated Versailles resident. Whether this is due to her fabled love for bubbly, outgoing nature, or the fact that coupe in French means cup, the most likely reason for this hearsay comes from another dish that she did lend her bosom to.


“There are porcelain coupe bowls made for her that were modeled on her breast,” said Kelly Conway, the curator of American glass at the Corning Museum of Glass in upstate New York. “They were made for her pleasure dairy where she would play milk maid.”


At the time it was all the rage to “go back to nature,” and the pleasure dairy Conway spoke of was located at the Chateau Rambouillet where the queen’s husband created a space for his lady to don simple cotton frocks and prance about in. The dish mentioned is creamy white with a pronounced pink nipple on the bottom, a design created in 1788 by Sèvres Porcelain Factory, located in the town of Sèvres. Today you can still travel to Paris’ Réunion des Musées Nationaux to see this elegant design, and, while it has nothing to do with champagne, it certainly has a ruttish naughtiness to it befitting our impression of the young coquettish queen.


That doesn’t mean the crystal coupe has to forgo the romance of being tied to the perfect breast, after all many versions of these glasses maintain a wide brim with a delicate, nipple-like peak at the bottom. They come in a variety of magnitudes, though in bra sizes usually you will find them akin to a ladies delicate A or a comfortable B cup. As for perfection, in the end that is all to the drinker’s discretion.


The best part about these exquisite vessels, right now they are experiencing a renaissance in cocktail culture, a feat that has taken over 50 years to accomplish. The last time the coupe made the scene in popular society said Conway, it was entwined in the long fingers of classy ladies and dashing men during the 1920s when bubbles and mixed drinks were all the rage. This love of the glass lasted until about the 1940s, when the coupe was shelved and other drinkware came into the picture. Still, going back to the not-so-distant past, it’s nice to imagine a rosy-cheeked Daisy Buchanan seducing Gatsby by tipping a B-cup sized glass of bubbles to her small decolletage with a tinkling laugh and the look of lust in her eye.