What Is a Highball Glass?

The right glass can make all the difference when it comes to enjoying a refreshing cocktail.


What Is a Highball Glass?What Is a Highball Glass?
After all, would cosmos and martinis be as much fun to drink if not for the stylish glasses in which they are served? While the origin of the highball glass and its name may be in dispute, its popularity among bartenders and patrons is not.

The highball glass is a tall, slender glass holding between 8 and 10 ounces of liquid. It can be identified by its straight sides and because it is weighted on the bottom to prevent tipping.


A highball glass is typically used to serve highball drinks which normally consist of a liquor (originally whiskey) and a mixer such as tonic, soda or sours served over ice. Sometimes a garnish of lemon or lime is also added.


While bartender Patrick Duffy of New York claims to have invented it in 1895, the true origin of the highball glass remains uncertain. As for the name "highball" there are several theories surrounding its origination. Online Academic Dictionary makes reference to the time of day that the drink was consumed - late in the day while the sun, or "ball" is "high in the sky". Another theory from the Online Entymology Dictionary points to the fact that the glass is tall or "high" and that the type of drink usually served was a "ball" of whiskey.


Popular cocktails served in a highball glass include:

Gin and tonic Jack and Coke Long Island iced tea Sea Breeze Sex on the Beach Tequila Sunrise Vodka tonic Whiskey sour


The highball glass is designed for drinks that are meant to be light and refreshing which is why no matter the cocktail, highballs typically contain more mixer than actual alcohol.

About the Author

Sarah Bradburn is an interior designer and writer living in Phoenix. She holds an associate degree in interior design and owns an interior design business. Bradburn has worked in high-end residential design, as well as model-home merchandising.