Unwind after a long day with the timeless classic, the Whiskey Highball. It’s time to class up this joint!
Legend has it that the whiskey highball takes its name from the days when steam locomotives ruled the railways. When a ball rose in one of the duct lines, it was a sign to the train engineers that the boiler was ready to go. It was also a signal to the engineers that they could take a cocktail break, hence the whiskey highball.
Whether or not that story is part hyperbole, completely true, or a bunch of hogwash, it makes a great tale to share when toasting with this classic two-ingredient beverage. The whiskey highball is a simple mash-up of whiskey and soda, sometimes topped with a twist of citrus. Highballs are super popular in Japan, and with its legendary history in the U.S., it might just be a perfect example of East meets West.
The whiskey highball is a great drink to share with friends or relax after a long day. If you want to mix things up a bit, you can always follow the highball with an Old Fashioned, a Whiskey Sour or the classic Sazerac. Whatever your pleasure, go ahead, jump on board, and enjoy!
Why You Will Love This Cocktail Recipe
With just two ingredients, it’s easy to find what you need in the liquor cabinet. But it’s also super-versatile. You can change the proportions, type of whiskey, or soda, all based on your preference.
- A highball glass: The tall size allows room for the soda to fizz and interact with the whiskey.
- A jigger or measuring tool
- A stirrer
- A knife and a cutting board (optional)
- 2 oz of a whiskey of your choice
- 6 oz club soda
- Optional: lemon slice for decoration
- Start by filling a tall glass with ice.
- Pour your preferred whiskey over the ice.
- Complete the glass with the club soda.
- To combine the ingredients, stir lightly. Feel free to add a zing with a lemon slice as garnish.
Tips & Tricks For a Perfect Whiskey Highball
- Fill up the highball glass with ice. Lots of ice will not only chill the cocktail but also subtly dilutes the whiskey for a perfectly balanced highball.
- Don’t overstir. Part of the elegance of the whiskey highball is the fizz. Just give the drink a gentle swirl to mingle the flavors.
The world is your oyster (or whiskey in this case, I suppose). Japanese whiskeys work well in highballs, but you can also use Scotch or rye.
If you’re out of soda water or want a different flair, use ginger ale or ginger beer. You can also use different garnishes such as oranges, grapefruits, or even a sprig of mint.
Because the fizz is important, it’s best to make and serve immediately. If it helps, you can measure out the whiskey into glasses beforehand and have the garnishes already cut.
Whiskey Highball Variations Worth Trying
- Low-Carb Whiskey Highball: For a healthier twist, use a zero-calorie sparkling water instead of traditional soda water.
- Highland Highball: Scotch whiskey will add a smoky flair to the traditional highball.
- Non-Alcoholic Highball: Keep the spirit of the original drink but use a non-alcoholic whiskey alternative or ginger ale and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
How to Store
The Whiskey Highball is best when it’s prepared and consumed during the same sitting. The fizz of the club soda is key to the drink, so it doesn’t prepare well in advance—and it won’t store well either. The good news is that it’s easy to make one at a time.