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This article is about the type of mixed drink. For other uses, see Highball (disambiguation).
"Greyhound (cocktail)" redirects here. For other uses, see Greyhound (disambiguation).
Sheet music cover for a 1915 song by William J. McKenna celebrating the drink

Highball is the name for a family of mixed drinks that are composed of an alcoholic base spirit and a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer.


The Online Etymology Dictionary suggests that the name originated around 1898 and probably derives from ball meaning a "drink of whiskey" and high because it is served in a tall glass. The name may refer to the practice of serving drinks in the dining cars of trains powered by steam locomotives, when the engine would get up to speed and the ball that showed boiler pressure was at its high level, known as "highballing". Or the name may have come from the railroad signal meaning "clear track ahead".[1]


Originally, the most common highball was made with Scotch whisky and carbonated water,[2] which is today called a "Scotch and Soda".

There are many rivals for the fame of mixing the first highball, including the Adams House in Boston.[3] New York barman Patrick Duffy claimed the highball was brought to the U.S. in 1894 from England by actor E. J. Ratcliffe.[4]

Well-known examples of highballs include Bourbon and Water, Cuba Libre, Scotch and Soda, Seven and Seven, the Moscow Mule, and gin and tonic. A highball is typically served in large straight-sided glass, for example, a highball glass or a Collins glass, with ice.

Highballs are popular in Japan, where they are often made with Japanese whisky as a haibōru (ハイボール?), or mixed with shōchū as a chūhai (チューハイ?). Various mixers can be specified by suffixing with -hai (〜ハイ?), as in oolong highball (ウーロンハイ ūron-hai?). These are consumed similarly to beer, often with food or at parties.

Partial List of Highballs[edit]

bourbon whiskey, Orange Crush Soda (In reference to the Denver Broncos Football team and the Defense known as the Orange Crush)[5]
  • Bourbon Highball
bourbon whiskey, ginger ale or soda and twist of lemon
  • Caribou Lou
1½ parts 151 rum, 1 part Malibu rum, and 5 parts pineapple juice[6]
white rum, cola, and lime
dark rum and ginger beer
  • Dulled Dolphin
low proof liqueur, Berry Wine Cooler (Popular in the last 30 years in Miami area; related to the Miami Dolphins Football team and the losing seasons and low hope for future prospects. Usually served in a red Solo cup)[5]
  • Ginger Whisky
Canadian whisky, ginger ale
gin and tonic water.
  • Greyhound
traditionally gin, now often vodka, and grapefruit juice. With a salted rim, it is instead called a salty dog.
Jack Daniel's and Coca-Cola.
  • Kaku Highball Japan
  • Libbi's Label
orange juice and rum
gin and grapefruit soda or grapefruit juice
Canadian whisky, ginger ale, and cola
vodka, ginger beer, and lime, served in a copper mug
Pimm's No.1 Cup, and ginger ale, lemon-lime soft drink, or carbonated water.
Pisco, cola, and ice
rum and Coca-Cola.
orange juice and vodka
Seagram's 7 whisky and 7 Up, garnished with a lemon wedge
tequila, tonic water, and lemon or lime wedges
  • Texas Highball (or Southern Hospitalitea)
Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, sweetened tea, ice, and lemon.
  • Vodka Soda
vodka and club soda
  • Vodka-Cola
1/4 vodka, 1/3 lemon juice, the remainder is Coca-Cola


  1. ^ Anthony J. Bianculli. Trains and Technology. University of Delaware Press. p. 134. 
  2. ^ "The 'Scotch Highball'". New York Times. March 25, 1904. p. 8. 
  3. ^ "Topics of the Times". New York Times. October 22, 1927. p. 16. 
  4. ^ Patrick J. Duffy (October 25, 1927). "The First Scotch Highball". New York Times. 
  5. ^ a b Mike "Dr. Cool" J's Drink Recipes 
  6. ^ "Caribou Lou Recipe".