Why is it called a Highball?
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to see where on earth the Highball recipe originated and why it got such an uncommon name. The story goes that the history of the Highball cocktail all started in jolly old England around 1887…
This is when club soda was first invented, and an American actor visiting the UK asked for a ‘scotch and soda’ at the bar of influential bartender Patrick Gavin Duffy. If cocktail lore is to be believed, it would be this fine gent who would go on to introduce the drink to American whiskey enthusiasts later in the decade.
During the Prohibition, the Highball’s popularity soared at speakeasy establishments throughout the US, and it would remain firmly in vogue until the 1980s when vodka became the spirit du jour. It also had a moment in the limelight in Japan in the 1950s, and the retro feel that it has in the East ricocheted into another bloom of popularity recently when grandpa cocktails began to trend.
Long story short – the Highball has been around the block, and it keeps hitting all the right notes every step of the way.
And the name? Well, as per usual there are a bunch of theories in this regard, but the one that makes the most sense is (to us, at least) is that in the day of steam locomotives, there was a system that ran a ball up the duct when the boiler reached a high level. In the event of such a ‘high ball’, the men tending the locomotive could take a break, and often had a nip of a flask.
Tips on how to make a Highball in the best way
Pouring the best Highball recipe is simple – just follow these easy guidelines:
- The whiskey: With your Highball featuring just club soda and whiskey, it’s essential to pour with a good base like Wild Turkey whiskey to ensure the best sip. Your delicious whiskey will shine brightly.
- The soda water: Keep it chilled in the fridge for optimum chill and make sure it’s well-sealed after each opening to keep the fizz.
- Your glass: A highball is best and a suitably easy glass to find in most kitchen cupboards. It holds about 235-360ml in volume, a bit less than a Collins glass, which can hold up to 400ml. Too much soda or ginger ale will dilute the whiskey too much.
- The ice: Sticking to a smaller glass will keep the ice from melting at a fast pace. Load your glass with large cubes to deliver an icy sip. Leave out the small ice chips, they’ll deliver a watery drink.
- Ratio: For the perfect combination, pour 60ml of whiskey to 120ml-150ml of soda water.
The perfect occasions to serve a Highball
Our easy Whiskey Highball makes a perfect refreshing sip in the summer months, especially when served with soda water. It’s an ideal partner to rich foods that need a light fizz for balance. Being that’s it a quick and easy pour for cocktails if friends drop by. It’s also a perfect aperitif to enjoy alongside canapés with a little buttery richness when hosting dinner parties. During the chilly winter months, serve it with ginger ale, when one needs a little extra sweetness.
Gorgeous Highball recipe variations to try at home
While you’re learning how to make a Highball, we highly recommend having fun with the format. It’s infinitely adaptable to individual taste, which means you can play around with it until you find something that really floats your boat. Here are a few to try:
The John Collins features bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda as ingredients. We suggest you choose a top-shelf bourbon like Wild Turkey to deliver sweet vanilla and oak notes that blend brilliantly with zesty fresh lemon juice.
Feeling a little whimsical and in the mood for a drink with a sweeter tinge? Combine 60ml Irish whiskey, 1 tablespoon of peach schnapps, a splash of orange juice, and 120ml of ginger ale, before garnishing it with a jaunty lime slice.
Vodka & Tonic
If you prefer to use vodka as your drinks base, a vodka and tonic is always a classy way to go. Or perhaps you want to keep things on the lower end of the calorie spectrum and add soda to a flavoured vodka for a nuanced drink that’s less sweet. We love using pineapple- or watermelon-infused vodka for summery occasions.