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Despite their simplicity, the highballs might be the most misunderstood drinks in the cocktail world. A highball is really just a drink made with any base spirit and combined with roughly twice as much of a nonalcoholic mixer served over ice—and maybe a fruit garnish if you're fancy (we are). So, a whisky soda is a highball but so are a gin and tonic and a rum and Coke.
Typically, the drinks are served in what is known as a highball glass, which is tall and thin. Good highball glasses are also generally a little thick, which helps the drink stay colder longer. Also, a 12-ounce capacity or more is preferable because a 2- to 3-ounce pour of spirit normally requires 4 to 6 ounces of mixer, which means you have 6 to 9 ounces of liquid before you consider the ice, and you don't want to serve one filled to the rim.
A good set of highball glasses are essential for any home bar. They elevate simple cocktails into elegant refreshments perfect for parties or just celebrating Friday night.
Here, the best highball glasses to stock your bar.
Best Overall: LSA Borough Highball Glasses, Set of 4
Some drinkers may find them too slender
The beauty of these LSA Borough Highballs is in their simplicity. The shape of the glasses is crisp, simple, and elegant. The 14.2-ounce capacity is ideal for the perfect whiskey and soda or really any iced down beverage. Designed in London and made in Slovakia, they are dishwasher safe and offer a clear window into the heart of your cocktail and all its splendor. The glasses are made from lead-free crystalline and come in a set of four.
Best for Outside: DuraClear Tritan Multicolored Highball Glasses, Set of 6
The colors pop
Easy to clean
Plastic doesn't feel as substantial as glass
If you have a pool or just like to host outdoor soirees, consider choosing a set of highballs made out of plastic. This set of DuraClear Tritan Highball Glasses from Williams Sonoma is constructed from BPA-free food-grade plastic. They are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. A 17-ounce capacity gives you ample room to ice up a drink when the outside temperature heats up, and each of the six comes in different colors so it’s easy to keep track of your drink during a gathering.
Best Textured: Godinger Carson Modern Vintage Highball Glasses, Set of 4
On the smaller side
These Carson highball glasses from Godinger, as their name implies, manage to feel both modern and vintage at the same time, a rare feat. The twill-cut pattern’s texture on the side also manages to feel both luxe and everyday, another line that’s hard to straddle, but they do it successfully. It also adds a bit of friction, so even as the glass sweats, it’s easy to hold. Made from non-leaded crystal, these 12-ounce highballs are dishwasher safe and come in either clear or pink, in case you like drinking through rose-colored glasses.
Best Showpiece: VIETRI Regalia Highball Glass
Handcrafted in Italy
Four color choices
Whether you’re trying to impress your guests or just want some stunning eye candy while you’re having a drink on your own, the Vietri Regalia Highball is the call. Each glass is hand-painted in 14-carat gold, so don’t you dare put them in the dishwasher. The Italian designs were inspired by royal emblems and resemble jewelry of the ancient world. Available in four colors—green, orange, purple, and cream—the glasses hold 12 ounces and will add extra wow to even the most basic drink.
Best Crystal: Waterford Gin Journeys Olann Hiball, Set of 2
Substantial in the hand
Generous 16-ounce capacity
Not dishwasher safe
While Waterford’s Gin Journeys collection pays tribute to the brand’s connection to the spirit dating back to Queen Victoria’s reign, you can add any spirit or cocktail to the Olann Hiball glass you like. Crafted from the brand’s signature crystal, the glasses are heavy in the hand, and the diamond stitch design on the exterior gives them both visual and tactile appeal. A 16-ounce capacity is big enough for a hearty G+T so you can go a bit longer before refills.
Best Personalized: Schott Zwiesel Classico Cocktail Glasses
Great for gifting
Somewhat pricey with monogram
If you’re the type of person who likes their barware monogrammed, we’re going to guess that you likely also prefer glasses with classic shape and style. Enter the Schott Zwiesel Classico Collection. Made in Germany from break-resistant Tritan™ crystal, these highballs are simple and customizable in a variety of fonts with the option for a three-letter monogram or a single initial (at checkout). They hold a nice 16 ounces and can handle cleaning in the dishwasher.
Best for Limited Cabinet Space: Curtiss Stacking Highball Glass
Slightly large, so take care to drink responsibly
For those with limited cabinet space, stackable glasses make sense as you can cram twice the number of vessels into the same storage area. Crate and Barrel’s Curtiss Stacking Highball Glasses are a perfect solution. The design is clean and elegant and the fun shape not only allows for a double-up when put away but also makes the glass easier to grip.
These highballs are handblown and dishwasher safe. Plus, the glasses offer a robust 17-ounce capacity; perfect for a double.
What to Look for in Highball Glasses
Ease of Cleaning
It’s our opinion that everyday glassware should be dishwasher safe. Sometimes crystal and hand-painted glasses add some sparkle to a special occasion, but just make sure you factor the cleaning method into your selection. If you'll be pulling your highballs out on special occasions only, hand-washing won't matter as much.
Highball glasses should be at least 12 ounces so you can add a healthy portion of ice and mixer to your drink. Bigger can be better, but if you aren’t measuring your drink components, you risk overserving yourself.
Choosing a design is an expression of personal aesthetics. Be you. In terms of material, it really comes down to what you like and how you're going to use the glasses. For pool parties, we think plastic works well. A standard blown-glass highball would be nice for a G+T at brunch. Crystal might be better suited for serving your in-laws a holiday tipple.
Like with pretty much everything, there's a range depending on what you want—from about $5 all the way up to $100 per glass. For everyday barware, anything under $15 a glass is pretty reasonable.
What other names is a highball glass called?
Highball glasses are also known as tumblers, drinking glasses, water glasses, and everyday glasses.
What is a highball drink?
A highball is a cocktail made with only two ingredients—one is alcohol, the other is a nonalcoholic beverage—and served over ice. It can also include a garnish of fruit or herbs.
What are some popular highballs?
Some examples of classic highball drinks include rum and Coke, gin and tonic, whisky and ginger, vodka and cranberry, and Scotch and soda.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Nicholas McClelland is a freelance writer and product tester who covers whisk(e)y and spirits for The Spruce Eats. His work has appeared in Men’s Journal, Fatherly, Inside Hook, TIME, and more.