For a bartender, one part liquor and two parts mixer combine for a classic highball cocktail.
For a railroad conductor, a highball mechanism once signaled whether they would have to stop at a platform.
But in Sioux Falls, Highball is a modern, organic cocktail bar located on the east edge of the downtown footprint. It features a whole menu section paying homage to the traditional drink combo and an ornate replica of the railroad signal displayed on the patio.
“We’re on the edge and looking to the future. We’re trying to do something a little different and outside of the box than what most bars in Sioux Falls are doing,” said Brian White, managing partner.
LED lights emit rays behind the bar through recycled glass blocks from the Carpenter building, casting the high ceilings and large furniture pieces in various rainbow hues.
Highball is an innovative, fun experience on the outskirts of downtown.” -Michael Mohr
“It’s more vibey with the big lights, the brightness, the ever-changing colors on the back wall, and the neat wallpaper,” said Michael Mohr, general manager.
The lounge-style bar opened in late August 2021 as part of Pendar Properties’ new Railyard Flats complex, just across the street from 8th & Railroad Center.
“The mass timber led the design choices in here—that modern, organic feel,” said Anne Haber, partner with Pendar, explaining how low-carbon wood serves as an alternative to traditional building materials like steel.
Sustainability has been important to Haber and her team down to the details. The biodegradable straws used at the bar are made of agave fibers, a byproduct of tequila production.
More on the Menu
Hendricks gin, raspberry syrup, and ginger ale.
>> TOM COLINS
Gin, lemon, sugar, soda.
Limon rum, cranberry, lemon-lime soda.
New Riffs on Old Faves
>> VERDITA MARGARITA
Silver tequila, orange liqueur, lime, pineapple, sugar, cilantro, jalapeño.
Rye whiskey, Peychaud’s bitters, a touch of sugar, absinthe-rinse.
>> EXPRESS LANE
Gin, Earl Grey liqueur, lime, sugar, soda.
>> THE NIGHT OWL
Vanilla vodka, chocolate liqueur, coffee liqueur, mole bitters.
>> THE FAST TRACK
Limon rum, Aperol, orange liqueur, white cranberry, lime.
>> SIGNATURE CHEESEBALL
Deconstructed crab rangoon served with wonton chips.
>> KRINGLES GOURMET PRETZELS
Honey Mustard or Hellfire Hot Reaper.
Along with recycled glass blocks to implement the industrial atmosphere, the team used old railroad ties to create the pergolas framing the patio.
“It’s a piece of that railroad history without being too cheesy,” said Haber. “We try to weave those touches into all of our bars— whether it be the Carpenter Bar and the use of the marble from the building itself or The Treasury being in an old vault.”
“We take steps to recycle and try to make our impact a little less. The straws are made from recycled agave fiber that’s a byproduct of when you make tequila.” – Brian White
The Highball patio offers a more relaxing atmosphere than most in the area, as it’s away from the main hustle and bustle of downtown life.
“For a downtown patio, it’s a totally different experience than what you’d get from Phillips Avenue. It’s a little more cozy and quiet with the firepit,” said White.
But that’s not the only thing that makes the bar stand out.
“What sets Highball apart from other bars is our commitment to products, starting with quality ingredients, hand squeezed every day,” explained Mohr.
Along with the group’s two other bars, Highball staffers are encouraged to experiment with cocktail recipe ideas to create something new.
“You bring your idea to the table, and the rest of the team workshops it together to create a fun new cocktail that’s balanced and palatable to everybody,” said Mohr.
Sister Locations- “Tri” Them All
Highball is the third location opened by this bar group after Carpenter Bar and The Treasury at the Hotel on Phillips. Monthly, the trifecta of bars competes to see who can make the best drink in a theme. Get a stamp for trying each of the three cocktails to get a free drink.
Using this method, the team has created a menu rich with uniquely-designed cocktails and rotates recipes in and out a few times a year.
“The Blue Lavender Lemon Drop is the perfect Instagram cocktail,” said White. “It’s very pretty, but it’s also a good quality cocktail. It’s balanced—not too sweet, not too sour. It’s pretty palatable for the beginner cocktail enthusiast.”
“The fresh-squeezed lemon juice and the Prosecco really complement the blueberry flavors,” Mohr added.
Of course, Highball couldn’t borrow its name without offering a Classic Highball on the menu. The cocktail is made with Japanese or American whiskey and bitters.
“The fun thing about our menu is it actually gets used,” said Mohr. “People look at it and order cocktails off the menu. They get out of their comfort zones a little bit to try and enjoy something a little different.”