We all wish we could have a private bartender who can whip up a cocktail or two for us when we get home at the end of a long workday. Even as a professional in the bar business, I can rarely muster up the energy to use my own complex recipes once I walk through my front door.
Enter the Highball. While most people may know this as just whisky and soda, a Highball can refer to any drink with a spirit base combined with a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer. That’s right—two ingredients, no fancy tools needed. I think we can all spare the 30 seconds it takes to add ice to a glass and pour directly from two bottles!
While gin and tonics and rum and cokes both have their place and time, here are a few other combinations that are just as easy drinking, and a few tips that may sound basic, but will help elevate your at-home cocktail experience.
Tips and tricks
1. Chill everything
This includes your glass (preferably a Collins glass to hold carbonation better), the spirit, and the mixer. Having everything cold to begin with will slow the dilution of the drink, which happens the minute you pour room temperature liquids over the ice in your glass. Chilled ingredients also have a silkier, smoother mouthfeel.
2. Make nice ice
It is worth investing in silicon ice molds for larger pieces of ice, rather than using those from standard ice trays or from in-built ice makers in your freezer. Like chilling your glass and ingredients, this also helps slow the dilution of your drink.
3. Use good ingredients
Just because you are topping up the spirit with a large pour of mixer, this is no excuse to skimp on the quality of your base. In fact, given that it is only a two-ingredient cocktail, both said ingredients should be of decent quality to create a resulting drink that is greater than the sum of its parts. Many sodas from the grocery store may be too sweet or overpowering for the combinations below, so I recommend always having club soda on hand to dial down the brix if needed.
4. Decide on your ratio
I personally prefer a 1:3 spirit (45-60ml) to mixer ratio, but this depends on the ingredients you are using, and more importantly, on your personal preferences. Start with a 1:2 pour, taste, and work your way up from there to find your magic number.
5. Stir gently
After adding your base spirit, followed by the mixer over ice, use a stirring spoon (if you have one) or a regular spoon to gently aggravate the drink up and down along the edge of the glass, followed by a few gentle stirs around it in order to better integrate the two ingredients.
6. Add a garnish
Well thought-out garnishes serve more purposes than just aesthetics. Herbs, citrus peels, and pieces of fruit can add an extra layer of flavour and aroma to your drink, giving it more complexity.