Media Release


New Zealand’s favourite cocktail and spirits festival - Highball presented by Liquorland - returns 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 New Zealand, and the world, has to offer.  Hear from internationally renowned speakers, catch the action in the finals of New Zealand’s Bartender of the Year, or simply sip and savour your way around the festival bars and distilleries. 

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.

“Highball is simply a great night out. 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.”

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,” he says. 

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, award winning gin and whiskey distiller from Auckland; alongside Cardrona Distillery from Queenstown. 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. 

Foodies will not be left wanting with Nam’d, House of Dumplings, Kaarage Kid and more serving up tasty bites to keep energy levels up. Fashionistas will love getting glammed up with the festival’s ‘Best Dressed’ competition returning.

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, with Liquorland presales available from 20 July. 

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For media enquiries please contact:

Jade Lucas - PR and Communications Manager


Ph: 021 090 66758

Hi-res imagery available here

About Highball presented by Liquorland

Highball is an immersive two-day celebration showcasing some of the best purveyors of cocktails and spirits New Zealand, and the world, has to offer. Pair this with tasty food and banging tunes and we've got your greatest night out sorted.

September 23 + 24 

About The Wellington Culinary Events Trust The Wellington Culinary Events Trust is a not-for-profit trust established in 2014 to run iconic culinary events including Visa Wellington On a Plate, Beervana and Highball.

You may download this media release here.