Cocktail and spirits festival Highball is returning to Wellington this September.

The festival kicks off with Wellington Cocktail Week (19-25 September), a city-wide celebration of cocktails across the capital’s bars, which lead up to the main event, Highball, on 24 + 25 September held at Wellington’s iconic Dominion Building.

Highball showcases the best purveyors of cocktails and spirits that New Zealand, and the world, has to offer.

Highball Festival Manager Riki Carter says Highball is all about exploring the world of cocktails, getting to know the histories of today’s spirits and discovering boutique distilleries, all while having a fantastic time in one of Wellington’s most iconic venues.

“We have some of the best in the business coming together for two nights, shaking, stirring and sharing their passion for bartending and premium spirits, all set to a grooving soundtrack,” he says.

Highball also serves up the finals of New Zealand Bartender of the Year. Hopefuls will go through a series of challenges that will test their knowledge, creativity and bartending skills, and the crowd can see the winner announced live.

“The competition is well supported by the industry and punters alike, with last year’s finals playing out in front of a packed house, we can’t wait to see what our finalists will be serving up this year,” says Carter.

The speaker series returns with international guests including Jacob Briars, New Zealand’s first ‘vodka professor’ who is now based in the United States; Philip Greene, a cocktail historian who works at The Pentagon for a day job; and renowned local distillers and brand ambassadors. Wellington hotspot Hawthorne Lounge will be presenting the flagship Prohibition Bar.

This year Highball welcomes newcomers 1919 Distilling, alongside Cardrona Distillery. Black Tears Rum from Cuba will be making an appearance and showcase aged rums from the 1950s.

Non-drinkers are well looked after with Highball showcasing Lyres, Seedlip and Monin who specialise in non-alcohol spirits and syrups. For something a little different Brewers Emersons and Boneface Brewing Company will be showcasing beer cocktails.

Confirmed exhibitors include:, 1919 Distilling, Cardrona Distillery, Juno Gin, Peddlers Gin, Juno Gin, ClemenGold Gin, Kiwi Distillers, Black Tears Rum, Four Pillars gin, Sessions Tequila, Starward Whiskey, Imagination gin, Proof & Co, Curiosity Gin, Hendrick’s Gin, Alchemist, Appleton Estate, Olmeca Altos tequila, Malfy gin, Lyre’s, Seedlip and Monin.

Tickets are available from midday 25 July from www.highball.co.nz.

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