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Highballs might be simple in construction, but there’s a science to making a great one. We asked House of Suntory West Coast Brand Ambassador Jonathan Armstrong to share a few insider secrets on what it takes to build the perfect highball cocktail at home: “The best kind of glass is a tall, heavy glass. That could be a Collins glass or even something with a handle. My only recommendation is to use something nice and heavy––highballs are always better with a cold glass, and a heavy glass will stay colder for longer after coming out of the freezer.” So stock up on quality soda, your favorite spirit, and some citrus, then read on to find out about the best highball glasses to get this year.
Best Overall: Riedel Coca-Cola Glass
“My favorite gin and tonic glass––or, as I like to call it, the original highball––is Riedel's Coca-Cola glass,” says Sipsmith Ambassador Keli Rivers. According to Rivers, many enjoy using the classic Spanish balloon-style stemmed glass for their gin and tonics, but these come with some downsides: “You can't stack them, they take up a lot of room, and don't survive very long in the dishwasher,” she notes.
On a spirited mission to identify the ultimate highball-style glass for this classic drink, Rivers and her peers set out to test over 100 different styles, settling on the Riedel Coca-Cola (albeit begrudgingly). “It was in there for shits and giggles at first, and none of us thought it had the slightest chance of winning,” Rivers tells Liquor.com. But, after rounds and rounds of meticulously controlled testing, this glass proved to be a cut above the rest. “The Riedel Coca-Cola glass felt the best in the hand, and the wider mouth allowed the juniper and citrus notes to open up so you wanted to go in for a sip. The shape allowed for stacked Kold-Draft size cubes all the way down, but also allowed the tonic to mix well with the gin when poured down the side of the glass––a lot of glasses cause either mostly tonic at first or mostly gin. Lastly, since it was designed to keep the carbonation of Coke active longer it was perfect for the G&T as I believe carbonation is the most important ingredient in the cocktail.”
Best Splurge: Kimura Kikatsu 12-Ounce Tumbler
We’d be remiss not to include a hat tip to Japan, the unofficial motherland of the highball category as a whole. Legendary brand Kimura is widely regarded by bartenders as one of the finest Japanese glass artisans around, with countless expertly-crafted styles from ultra-simple to strikingly ornate (there are options all across the price spectrum, too). If you’re looking to splurge on a fancy highball glass, this is the best place to look.
The Kikatsu 12-ounce tumbler is a veritable work of art, made of soda glass in Japan and etched with an intricate yet clean linear design from top to bottom. You can also add a certification of origin to your purchase if you wish.
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Most Durable: Schott Zwiesel Modo Highball Glasses
Clocking in at 14.6 ounces, these simple yet elegant Schott Zwiesel Modo glasses are perfect for tall orders of long cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks alike (they’re the perfect everyday water glass if you ask us). Made by a trusted name in glassware, each Modo glass is constructed from lead-free Tritan crystal in Germany, and they’re resistant to scratches, chips, breaks and thermal shock. Sip, clean in the dishwasher, and repeat as needed.
Best Fluted: Williams-Sonoma Dorset Crystal Highball Glass
There’s nothing quite like the look of a classic-style fluted glass, heavy in the hand, and with an ability to capture light that’ll instantly level up any bar cart, cabinet, or tray in the right setting. The Slovenian-made 13.9-ounce Dorset crystal highball glasses by Williams-Sonoma are a prime example––inspired by the coastal English county of the same name and made from hand-cut lead crystal. This set makes for an excellent wedding gift or glassware collection upgrade.
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Best Etched: NUDE Big Top Crystal Highball Glasses
The hits keep coming from contemporary cult-favorite glassware brand NUDE. Their wide variety of ultra-thin, sparkling lead-free crystal glasses covers all of your serving and drinking needs (and then some).
The Big Top collection is inspired by the shapes, lines, and general aesthetic of the circus. Their highball glasses come in three different sizes (10 ounces, 11.5 ounces, and 14.5 ounces), and all feature distinct vertical raised lines and an inwardly sloped base. We’ve found that the 11.5-ounce glass is ideal for a highball, but if you prefer a larger drink (or just like to use a lot of ice), consider opting for the 14.5-ounce version.
Best Design: CB2 Franklin Cooler
You can always rely on CB2 for beautiful, contemporary design, and these tortoiseshell highball glasses are no exception. They’ve got a minimalist vintage look and a nice, weighted feel; this collection is constructed in Poland from colored lime soda glass and have a 17-ounce capacity. CB2 recommends that these glasses be washed only by hand.
Best Set: Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky Gift Set
This one might just be our favorite, quite possibly due to the fact that it includes a bottle of whisky (we can neither confirm nor deny). But, for the same price as a lone bottle of Suntory Toki, you can make this gift set yours (or someone else’s), complete with a specially-designed highball glass and recipe card. Kanpai to that.
Good to Know:
“The Japanese have elevated the traditional whisky and soda to new heights by putting meticulous focus and care in every step of the process," Armstrong explains. "To make a good highball, all you have to do try to elevate some part, any part, of the process. Whether that’s good ice, high-quality soda water, or just using authentic Japanese whisky, the reward is always a well-crafted, refreshing cocktail with a sum far greater than any of its parts.”
Read Next: The Best Bar Sets
Why Trust Liquor.com?
Céline Bossart has been covering the wine and spirits scenes for over seven years and has been steadily building her glassware collection throughout. Currently, her favorite highball vessels are the Luigi Bormioli Bach glasses, though she’s also a fan of a sturdy glass mug, like the Suntory Whisky Highball Mug.