There’s no wrong time to drink a whisky highball. This combination of whisky, club soda (or ginger ale if you prefer yours a little sweeter), and ice is equally well suited to a hot summer day, a blustery winter night, or a crisp fall afternoon. There are few drinks that can be sipped in any season quite as easily, in fact. It’s equal parts refreshing and warming — a very effervescent way to enjoy your favorite whisk(e)y.
This cocktail is also popular all over the world. One of the most well-known versions is the artistic and elegant Japanese highball. But the drink is adaptable to fit any taste — from Scotch to bourbon to rye. One of the things that makes it so globally popular is its simplicity.
“The highball is one of those drinks that proves that in bartending, as in so many things, less is more,” says Mark Tubridy, mixologist at 21 Club in New York City. “From the temperature of your glass to the clarity of your ice to the character of your whiskey and the carbonation of your soda… each factor has a profound effect on the finished cocktail.”
Since the highball works in any season, we’re making it our goal to try a few this fall. That’s why we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us the whiskeys they use for their own unique takes on the classic cocktail.
Yamazki 12 Year Japanese Whisky
Justin Campbell, beverage director for The h.wood Group in Los Angeles
My favorite highball is a Japanese highball. Use large format ice, over carbonated soda water, a dash of Angostura bitters and an orange swath. I prefer Yamazaki 12 Year because to me it nearly drinks like a Speyside Scotch and the drink never leaves me feeling hungover the next morning (or afternoon).