You’ve probably seen stirrup cups looking trophy-like on bar carts or on home bars, but they’re more than just decoration. They’re rich in history and are a barware piece that will never go out of style! Traditionally stirrup cups make great gifts because of their uniqueness, style, and longevity.
Stirrup cups date back to the late 18th and 19th century, they are a form of drinking vessel which was traditionally presented to riders on horseback prior to leaving or arriving home from a hunt. This happened while their feet remained in their stirrups.
Since stirrup cups are connected with hunting, many of the cup bases are usually in the form of a fox, stag, dog, or horse’s head. They were specifically created to be comfortable in the hand and to hold a smaller capacity so the contents could be drunk quickly.
Many stirrup cups have survived the 18th and early 19th centuries and can still be found at auctions today. Due to their popularity as collector’s items, many modern silversmiths continue to produce stirrup cups.
We like stirrup cups because of their uniqueness compared to other drinking vessels. We suggest using them at dinner parties or small gatherings to add some flair. They can be used to serve bourbon neat, on the rocks, or you can even use them in place of a julep cup!
Traditionally stirrup cups were made of silver, although modern silversmiths are partial to pewter as it is more cost-effective and doesn’t tarnish — allowing you to display it on your bar cart.
Below we’ve picked out our favorite pewter, silver plated, and even antique cups to purchase for your collection! Check out how we’ve used stirrup cups to style our Bourbon Bar Carts HERE!
Pewter Stirrup Cups
These handsome 5 oz stag and dog head stirrup cups make wonderful gifts for guests, hunters, groomsmen, or anyone who loves tradition. Pewter does not tarnish, but it may become slightly dull with a lot of use, and if you desire to restore its shine, there are some good quality pewter polishes available on the market. With proper care, your pewter will last for generations.
Silver Plated Stirrup Cups
Silver-plated stirrup cups will cost you quite a bit more than pewter, but are the more traditional option. To remove tarnish, clean with a soft cloth and a non-abrasive silver polish or paste. When storing, always wrap in the original tarnish-proof wrapping tissue and store in a box or felt bag, as exposure to air will promote tarnishing.
Vintage Stirrup Cups
This is a set of vintage stirrup cups made by Gucci — while these are not from the 18th or early 19th century they do date back to the ’70s and are highly coveted among collectors and are highly detailed. These cups come in either silver-plated or a combination of silver-plated and brass.
Gucci Stirrup Cup (Set of 8) – FIND IT HERE