Highball, New Zealand’s only dedicated cocktail and spirits festival, kicks off this Friday, May 7.

Taking place at the historic art deco Dominion Museum Building in Wellington, Highball will feature ​interactive spirits sessions and hands-on classes led by expert distillers. ​

The Highball Speaker Series will feature local and international cocktail and spirits experts, and the newly rebooted New Zealand Bartender of the Year competition will see the best in the business compete for the ultimate crown.

More than 40 distilleries, showcasing gin, whisky, rum, vodka and other spirits, will be serving tastings and cocktails, including Kiwi craft producers Reid + Reid, Imagination, Lunatic & Lover and Koakoa, as well as international producers such as Monkey Shoulder whisky from Scotland, and Clemengold Gin from South Africa.

Sarah Meikle, Chief Executive of the Wellington Culinary Events Trust, says the expansion of Highball was built off the back of the festival’s success in its inaugural year in 2019, and – after a hiatus in 2020 due to the national lockdown – more than ready to introduce festival goers to the world of cocktails and spirits.

“Highball 2019 took off in a big way, and we received overwhelmingly positive feedback from festival goers on how much they enjoyed the immersive cocktail and spirits experience in the heart of Wellington,” she says.

“We listened to what people enjoyed and what they wanted out of the festival, and built this year’s event around that feedback.”

Highball festivities will take place over two days on May 7-8, followed by Wellington Cocktail Week from 10-16 May, showcasing the Capital’s eclectic and colourful cocktail scene with a series of events, special menus, masterclasses and walking to​urs hosted by local cocktail bars, restaurants and eateries.

See ​www.highball.co.nz​ for more information.

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