Highballs are pretty much one of the easiest cocktails to make at home. Bring out your choice of spirit, add in your extender of choice, et voila – a drink you can easily make to have multiple rounds of. Its flexible spirit to extender ratio makes it undeniably one of the fail-proof beverages to share with a group friends as well. We recommend a 3:1 (extender : spirit) ratio and with good quality ice cubes, if you ask us! Here we list down six ways to spice up your highballs.
As in any recipe, add any citrus fruit and you’re sure to brighten up your dish one way or another. Liven up your highballs by adding a citrus peel, folding and twisting to squeeze out the fragrant oils, right before pouring your extender of choice. Another way to include citrus fruits in your highballs is by adding freshly squeezed juice of choice to your concoction. Just a teaspoon can already give an instant lift of flavour in your highballs. We recommend doing this method for shochu, gin, or any clear spirit — but hey, you can try it with whisky too!
KICKING IT UP A NOTCH WITH SPICES AND AROMATICS
If your dry pantry’s well stocked and you feel like exploring hidden flavour notes in your highball, feel free to carefully play around! We’ve seen this in gin and tonics — other than citrus peels and herbs (and the usual juniper berries,) dry aromatics or spices are also added like black or pink peppercorns to bring out a fragrant kick in the G&T. Try adding a pod or two of cardamon to your usual gin and tonic, or a piece of star anise to explore different notes to your dry gin.
Also, have you tried spices in a whisky highball? A couple of cracks of black pepper to your Suntory Kakubin highball will surely showcase another flavour profile you never thought your whisky had. If you want to play with herbs, a shiso mezcal highball is also not entirely unheard of.
Side note: observe how these ingredients react with different techniques — each contain essential oils and aromatics that can be released or incorporated to your drink through different ways. Try muddling, grating, cracking, or even slapping (for those herbs!) Sometimes, just putting them in the drink can already impart a lot of flavour as well. Stay in control!
MAKING USE OF BAR GEMS
If you’ve been working on expanding your home bar for a while, or if you’re fortunate to have a man or woman in the house who’s been building up a spirits collection, try seeing if there are bar gems like liqueurs and bitters in the selection. Bitters, often referred to as cocktail seasonings, can add hints of flavour and depth with simply one to two dashes in your highball. Liqueurs or flavoured spirits, on the other hand, may add an extra layer of complexity to your highball. Play around according to your palate from a teaspoon to an ounce. Our favourites are adding an ounce of umeshu (plum liqueur) to our whisky highballs, or a bit of elderflower liqueur in our G&T for a sweet and floral finish.
PLAYING WITH EXTENDERS
Topping up your spirit with anything other than soda and tonic would still be considered a highball, technically. Play around with your ginger ales, your iced teas, your Coca-Cola products and flavoured sodas — or any beverage, really. We won’t judge. Drinking is for the leisure of it, essentially. *wink*
OPENING YOUR BUBBLIES
Classics likes the French 75 or the Aperol Spritz are basically highballs that use bubblies! If you’re feeling celebratory and festive, why ot pop open that bottle of cava gifted to you 5 holidays ago? Get to know what more you can enjoy from your simple highballs if you top your beverage up with that good ol’ bottle.
CHECK YOUR FRUIT BASKET
Just like your citruses, other fruits can be explored to use as a garnish or a component to your highballs. We do such for our Chu Hi (shochu highball) by supporting it with Korean pears. We add just a teaspoon of pear syrup (made by juicing and straining the pears, then creating a 1:1 syrup with the liquid) and garnish with a slice or two of pear to lift the subtlety of the shochu. Dropping a frozen berry might be worth playing around with too if you want to make use of frozen fruits outside of smoothies. Another favourite of ours: cucumber water!
The simplicity of a highball makes it one of the most flexible drinks to make. Rummage through your fridge and pantries and share with us how you spiced up your highball today!