The Reason Bartenders Use Highball Glasses For Specific Drinks

Bartending is all about nuance. Even your choice of ice shape can make or break a cocktail, so it's no surprise that a crucial part of bartending is selecting the right cocktail glass — and for serving many if not most mixed drinks, bartenders are reaching for a highball glass.

A highball cocktail combines a base spirit and a non-alcoholic carbonate over ice, so bartenders know to reach for the namesake glass whenever they're building a drink with a large proportion of mixer (aka a "long drink" in industry lingo). Not to be confused with a Collins glass, highball glasses are characterized by being low-capacity and tall. They don't necessarily have to be as narrow as a Collins and are often a bit shorter and heavier. You can get them with fluted sides, rounded bottoms, thin lips, gold rims, or grooved crystalline facades, but they all get the job done just the same.

Highball glasses are the ideal tool for short drinks served tall. They can handle enough ice to keep drinks chilled and diluted for relatively long periods and are also great for assembling long cocktails, helping mixologists nail the proportions naturally. It's like the differences you experience when cooking with a sharp knife or a good cast iron skillet; the right tools make you a better chef. You can also assemble most two-parter drinks directly in the highball glass, no shaker necessary. (You shouldn't be shaking fizzy mixers anyway, for the record.)

Letting simplicity speak for itself (shh)

The highball glass is easy to care for — elegant, slim, and often dishwasher safe — not to mention durable. Thanks to its stoutness and thickness, it can withstand rougher handling than thinner, curved martini or coupe glasses. Highball glasses also provide an aesthetically minimalist frame to let elaborate ingredients shine, perfect for bartenders who like working with edible flowers, cucumber peels, or perfectly clear ice cubes.

You don't need to chill highball glasses either, because any drink you'd serve in a highball glass to begin with is typically served over ice, meaning more space in your freezer. It's no wonder the glass is professionals' go-to for G&Ts, vodka tonics, scotch and sodas, rum and Cokes, whiskey gingers, mojitos, and Long Island iced teas. The workhorse of the mixology Rolodex holds drinks that are as straightforward, inviting, and familiar yet fabulous as their receptacle.

The clean lines and classic silhouette of a highball glass make it accessible yet inherently mature, and the vessel offers enough space to build a complex, dimensional cocktail. Whether you're a pro at a Manhattan lounge with a $20 cover or a home bartender who's just getting their feet wet (pun intended), a set of highball glasses is a bar essential. Think of it this way: A 12-ounce highball glass is like a good ink pen or a pair of black slacks — reliable, versatile, and welcome every time.