Nikka From The Barrel
This squat little 50cl bottle may look like aftershave, but its one of the best bangs for your buck when it comes to Japanese whisky. A blended whisky dialling in at 51.4%, its a heavyweight liquid with oodles of complexity. Sweet caramel and cinnamon mix with orange zest, pear, coffee, clove and dried chilli flakes. Alc 51.4%
Best Japanese Whisky: Hibiki Harmony
Courtesy of Whisky Exchange
Region: Japan | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Honey, White Chocolate, Orange
Japanese whisky is a perfect choice for a highball, given how popular the drink is in that country. For Thandi Walton, lead bartender at Bar Margot inside Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, Suntory makes a blend that is her go-to whisky for this time-tested classic.
Personally, I enjoy Hibiki Suntory Japanese Whisky with soda water, which brings out its notes of honey, orange zest, and sweet chocolate, she says. The age statement bottles of Hibiki are pretty hard to find these days, so best to stick with this newer NAS expression that is much more readily available.
“Hibiki Harmony is my personal favorite in a Japanese-style highball, with a large swath of orange peel to bring out those bright citrus notes.” Prairie Rose, Editor
Do I Stir A Whiskey Highball
For a purist, no. The carbonation within the drink will effectively mix the spirit with the carbonated mixer. But if have more than just whiskey in my cocktail, like simple syrup or fruit juice, I will use a bar spoon to pull upward from the bottom of the glass to the top once or twice.
But no more than that.
Each time you stir or disturb the surface of the highball youre releasing the CO2 from solution in the drink, turning the mixer flat. If you simply let the highball sit for a few moments, the carbonation blends the flavors of the soda and whiskey together, stirring the cocktail with bubbles as they rise to the surface.
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More Classic Whiskey Drinks
Love whiskey? Us too. Here are some of our favorite whiskey drinks :
- Whiskey Sour The classic! Whiskey, lemon and simple syrup make a perfect combination.
- Classic Old Fashioned Heres the oldest cocktail there is: a truly timeless drink. Or try it smoked!
- Whiskey Smash A classic cocktail thats tangy and refreshing, featuring lemon juice and mint its like a citrus spin on the Mint Julep.
- New York Sour One of the best cocktails out there! Make a whiskey sour and float a layer of red wine on top.
- Brown Derby This retro drink features grapefruit and honey syrup: sweet and refreshing!
- Paper Plane A standout modern classic that mixes bourbon and Aperol.
- Milk Punch A bourbon cocktail made with milk and sugar! Its cold and creamy, and works for brunch or evening.
- Penicillin This tasty modern classic stars Scotch, honey, lemon and ginger.
- Vieux Carre Strong and sippable, it features whiskey, Cognac and vermouth.
- Alabama Slammer A retro highball cocktail full of fruity flavor.
- Bourbon Sidecar Bright and classy, a variation on the classic sour cocktail that swaps brandy for bourbon. Citrus forward with a spicy whisky finish!
The Best Whiskey Highball Recipes For Fall
As the warm summer comes to a close, many of us are once again reaching for our favorite fall whiskeys to accompany the coming autumn weather. And while elaborate cocktails are great for a special night in, its more likely youll find us whipping up drinks that are satisfying and easy to make.
Following its recent comeback in Japan, the Highball remains a bartender favorite in the U.S. The beauty of the Highball is in its simplicity: With just two main ingredients, whiskey and sparkling water, the drink is easily modifiable. When made correctly, the bare-bones drink allows the spirit to sing.
Thats why, in honor of Bourbon Heritage Month, weve put together a list of the best whiskey Highballs from VinePairs recipe library. Read on to discover autumns newest staples.
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The Ray Of Sunshine Recipe
A riff on the Penicillin, the Ray of Sunshine tastes as bright as it looks. This drink is simple to make, employing a split base of whiskey and rum. Add in lemon juice and ginger syrup to bring in some freshness to this sour cocktail, top with soda water and an expressed lemon peel, and enjoy this deliciously balanced sipper.
Think About The Flavors You Want To Highlight
Sometimes I want a slightly smoky, silky highball. On those days I might prefer a smoky blended Scotch. Other days I might want that lovely grainy malt from Irish whiskey especially if Im sipping earlier in the day or with brunch. If I prefer to bring out dried fruit flavors I might look to whiskey thats been aged in a secondary cask.
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Compass Box Great King Street Artists Blend
Blended whisky maker Compass Box is known for being rather unconventional in its approach to whisky creation, and the industry is much more fun for it. Its Artists Blend is inspired by the whisky blenders of the late 19th century, and their archive recipes. This has a high proportion of malted barley. Apple compote, lemon peel, cinnamon and clove, vanilla pod and toasted almonds make for a beguiling Whisky Highball. Alc 43%
Whisky X Soda X Ice Its That Simple
The Whisky Highball drink has dominated the drinking scene in Japan for decades and now, its now picking up the global pace.
The highball drink is a familiar format a base spirit paired with a mixer. The Whisky Highball ingredients centre around whisky and simple soda water to showcase the complex flavour profile of the whisky.
But did you know theres more to a Whisky Highball than just whisky and soda? Find out more about the history of the highball and our favourite Whisky Highball drink recipes.
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Choose A Quality Whiskey Thats Not Too Expensive
I always want whiskey drinkers to fully enjoy every pour, but I also prefer to save the really expensive whiskies for a neat or rocks pour or to share with friends. I dont advocate saving whiskey you hate for cocktails. Youll end up mixing cocktails you wont love.
I build highballs with value whiskies. I select whiskies I enjoy, daily drinkers that I love to savor, but ones I find readily available near me.
Easy Japanese Highball Recipe
The whisky highball only uses two ingredients: whisky and club soda . If youre making drinks quickly, in high volume, or arent picky, the following recipe will make a very good drink.
- 1.5-ounces Japanese whisky
- club soda or sparkling water
- optional lemon
Start by adding the whisky into a highball glass. A 2-ounce pour is a good option if you like a bit more kick and intensity. Add ice and stir until the glass is very cold. Then, top off highball glass with ice once more.
Next, gently pour cold soda or sparkling water into the glass. Tilting it will help it mix easier without disturbing the carbonation. Once the glass is full, press your bar spoon carefully into the drink and lift it lightly back to the top. This will help to mix the whisky and water.
A lemon garnish is optional for a Japanese highball. If youre using high-end whisky like Hakushu 12 or Nikka From the Barrel, you may want to skip this garnish. Highballs made with regular Japanese whiskies like Suntory Toki or Mars Iwai benefit from a lemon peel expressed over the drink and placed inside.
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How To Make A Highball Drink
The true advantage of a Whisky Highball drink is its versatility. The cocktail can be adapted to suit any palette and flavour profile, opening the door for creativity in the kitchen, something ex-Merivale legend turned private chef Big Sam Young knows well.
Highballs are simple and delicious. There are so many different flavour options, you can switch up what youre drinking, and what youre pairing it with, every night, he tells Man of Many. Keep it simple and try to pair just a few flavours you enjoy.
With that in mind, spirits expert Nagar and chef Big Sam Young revealed their ultimate Whisky Highball recipe, the Johnnie & Blood Orange Highball. It is a complex, bittersweet highball that creatively pairs the flavours of Johnnie Walker Black Label with blood orange and spice. Here is how to make a Whisky Highball youll never forget.
Best Budget: Paul John Nirvana
Courtesy of The Whisky Exchange
Region: India | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Butterscotch, Baking Spice
This Indian single malt whisky is produced in the Indian state of Goa and has been a favorite of many brown spirits fans and bartenders as a new and vibrant choice to use in a highball since it was first released in 2020. Best of all, you can usually find a bottle for less than $30, which is a very reasonable price for such a complex whisky.
There are bright spice and citrus notes on the palate, and not a whiff of smoke to be found, making this a great budget option to consider for your next highball, especially on a hot summer day when something refreshing is in order.
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What Food Complements Whiskey
Bourbon, and whiskey in general, is an excellent choice for food and drink pairings, including most grilled foods. Beef and pork dishes are perfect complements to whiskey, and smoked salmon is another top choice. Don’t rule out grilled chicken or seafood for whiskey cocktails, either. You can’t beat the delicious combination of chocolate and whiskey for dessert, and both are a good match for the orange found in the summer breeze cocktail.
What Makes A Drink A Highball
Highballs are some of the most popular cocktails out there. Not only because many are very tasty, but also, they are usually really quick and easy to make. Like, only two ingredients easy to make.
They consist of a small amount of alcohol, usually a shot or so, and a larger amount of a mixer. The mixer can be any non-alcoholic beverage but usually it is either a fruit juice, like a Whiskey and Grapefruit Juice or Whiskey and Orange Juice, or a carbonated drink like Whiskey and Root Beer, Whiskey and Sprite, and Whiskey and Coke.
You will also usually see some form of fruit garnish like a lemon, lime, or cocktail pick of cherries.
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Make A Whiskey Highball With Any Spirit
Some people consider the whiskey highball as a template drink: you can use it as a template to make a highball using any spirit! To us, the whiskey highball should be made with whiskey. But! You can also tinker with the formula and make a highball with any spirit.
Use the ratio 2 parts soda water to 1 part spirit. Try a vodka highball , gin highball, tequila highballwhatever strikes your fancy!
Classic Whisky Highball Recipe
A classic Whisky Highball cocktail is incredibly simple, created to showcase the complex flavour profile of the whisky. We love using Chivas 12 or Chivas Mizunara in a Whisky Highball drink, but our whole range will shine in this cocktail. The Whisky Highball calorie count also makes it an appealing option, sitting at just 100 calories for a 50ml serve of Chivas and soda which is half of what youd find in a pint of lager.
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What Is A Whiskey Highball
A Whiskey Highball is simply the combination of about a shot of whiskey or bourbon and another mixer. Technically, there are many drinks that could be called a Whiskey Highball, however, the generally accepted version is whiskey mixed with either Club Soda or Ginger Ale . If you ask a bartender for this drink without specifying something else, this is the version you will likely get.
How To Make A Japanese Highball
With only 2 ingredients, this Japanese Highball is so easy to make and so refreshing to sip! Crisp and light with the perfect balance of whiskey to club soda, it’s the perfect cocktail!
Take a classic highball and give it a twist by using Japanese Whiskey!
When I was growing up, I always remember my grandmother ordering a highball whenever we went out to eat. It looked like a fun, sparkling drink.
But then it seemed, like no one was ordering highballs any more.
Thanks to the Japanese for bringing back a classic and in a big way.
The Japanese have taken the highball to a whole new level! They took as simple 2 ingredient cocktail and gave it the techniques and reverence that it deserves!
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How To Make A Whiskey Highball
With so few ingredients, both the quality of the ingredients youre using and the temperature and dilution of all the elements matter with a highball.
Its an easy cocktail to make. Pour your whiskey of choice into the bottom of a chilled highball glass with ice, top with soda to your desired ratio, and serve. Because there are only two ingredients it can be built in the glass so you wont even need a mixing glass. Its preferred to use either an ice spear or ice cubes. Cracked ice, nugget ice, or crushed ice are not ideal.
The garnish is quick if you choose to add one. Generally, a lemon twist adds just a hint of citrus oil to the aromas of the drink.
Besides choosing the whiskey and the type of soda youll use, the choice of glassware is paramount. The mouth of the glass should be narrow to slow the release of carbonation at the surface of the drink.
The interior of the glass is important. In the Cocktail Codex, Death and Company writes that the ideal highball glass should be well-chilled, very smooth inside with no ridges or bumps to keep the mixer well-carbonated as long as possible. Any imperfections on the glass or ice draw the carbonation out of solution in the soda. It turns the soda flat faster.
Whiskey Highball Recipe Variations
Please note that there are many ways and variations to make Whiskey Highball. The Whiskey Highball recipe above is the most common way to make this drink, you can always improvise with your own twist and enjoy. You can also find many other variations of this drink on our website, just use our search to see more.
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American Whiskey Options For Highballs
For days when I want something with more punch and aggressive flavors, I head to an American whiskey. I select a high rye mash bill American rye like New Riff Bottled in Bond Rye, or Jack Daniels Tennessee Straight Rye for a highball with a bit more spice and pepper to it. If I prefer a slightly sweeter highball, Ill select a lower rye mash bill rye whiskey or a high rye bourbon like Four Roses Small Batch or Old Grand Dad.
Why Is It Called A Highball
Cocktail origin stories are sometimes difficult to sort out, and the highball falls into that category. The drink emerged in the late 1890s, and several sources indicate that bartenders in England called whiskey drinks “balls,” and tall or “high” glasses were used for such drinks. Another theory says the name comes from a 19th-century railroad signal. When the ball was high or raised on the signal post, the train could pass through without stopping. In “The Joy of Mixology,” Gary Regan writes that the drink mimics the train signal that it was time to go: two short whistles followed by one long one, as the drink consists of 2 ounces of whiskey and a long pour of ginger ale or soda.
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Best Rye Whiskey: Wild Turkey Rye
Courtesy of Total Wine
Region: Kentucky | ABV: 50.5% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Cinnamon, Orange
Wild Turkey is best known for its classic 101 proof bourbon, but the distillery also makes an affordable rye, also at 101 proof, that should not be overlooked. This is a rye whiskey with a rye content that hovers right around the legally required amount , so the spice is present but not nearly as present as it is in the many 95-100 percent rye whiskeys out there.
Try this one in your next highball for a refreshing drink that has a bit of spice but will still play well with a bit of citrus or even a slice of pear.
Best Whisky For A Highball Cocktail
The Whisky Highball is one of the simplest yet most rewarding drinks for the sophisticated imbiber to knock up at home. At its heart it may only be whisky, ice and soda, but this belies the complexity of the drink, with the lengthening spritz of the soda water teasing apart the flavours of the spirit in the glass.
As with so many classic drinks, the exact origins of the Whisky Highball arent known, however its first written mention has been traced to a play called My Friend from India, written in 1894, where one of the characters requested a high ball of whiskey.
Five years later, bartender Chris Lawlor wrote about a High Ball in his recipe book The Mixicologist. He stated: Put in thin ale-glass one lump of ice, fill with syphon seltzer to within an inch of the top, then float one half jigger of brandy or whisky.
Prodigious drinker and talented author F Scott Fitzgerald included mention of the Highball in The Great Gatsby, which was published in 1925, triggering an increase in the drinks popularity in the US.
However, it was the introduction of the Whisky Highball to Japan in the 1950s that has arguably ensured its continued popularity into the 21st century. The serve was quickly adopted into the countrys drinking culture, with highball bars opening across Japan. Indeed, youll find the drink listed in virtually every drinking establishment in the country even today.
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