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From Wikipedia:

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

The name may refer to the practice of serving drinks in tall glasses, or 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 early railroad signals with raised globes meaning "clear track ahead".

Initially, the most common highball was made with scotch and carbonated water, known as a "scotch and soda".

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

Well-known examples of highballs include the gin and tonic, seven and seven, and Cuba Libre. A highball is typically served over ice in a large straight-sided highball glass or Collins glass.