A Round of Highballs

Everybody loves a highball now and again.  These simple drinks will easily include generally quaffable libations for your greater enjoyment and deceptively difficult beverages testing just how meticulous or precise your bartender tenders to be.  According to the 1888 New & Improved Bartender’s Manual, a highball was scotch, whisk(e)y, gin or brandy topped with soda water.  Nowadays, we tend to classify any drink that is a liquor and a mixer.  This is all the “and” drinks: gin AND tonic; rum AND cola; bourbon AND branch.  These can easily be the basis for endless variations but you start first with the highball itself.

The key to a highball is in the precise ratio of the drink itself.  While you can get drinks that are stronger, the real magic happens at a balanced approach which yields in my estimation a superior libation. I think a 1 part liquor to 2 parts mixer is key.  The garnishes add the last joyous component. A squeeze of citrus alone can change the entire enjoyment of the drink.  I usually shoot for 1.5oz of liquor to 3oz of mixer, but start with the 1:2 ratio, and find your happy place for a highball. What can we make?

Classic Highball
Soda Water

Gin & Tonic
Tonic Water
Lime Wedge squeezed in

Cuba Libre
Lime Wedge Squeezed in

Bourbon & Branch
Spring water


Orange Blossom
Orange Juice

From here, you can easily experiment, but one of my favorite options evolving from the highball, The Buck

2 ounces liquor – I usually use gin or rye, but use your preferred liquor.
4 ounces Ginger Ale (or ginger beer if you have it)
½ a lemon

Squeeze the half of a lemon into the bottom of double old fashioned glass

Drop the now spent lemon wedge into the glass

Add the liquor

Top the glass with ice

Add the ginger ale

Stir once or twice.

Odds are I am having one right now.