Whiskey Highball

Here’s how to make the classic whiskey highball: tall, bubbly, and all about the spirit! This cocktail is a refreshing way to enjoy your favorite whiskey.

Whiskey highball

Here’s a refreshing way to drink your favorite whiskey: the classic Whiskey Highball! This two-ingredient cocktail originated around the turn of the 20th century and it’s still popular to this day. Why? It’s so easy to make: no cocktail shakers or fancy ingredients required! It’s an intriguing way to enjoy the flavors in a sip of whiskey. This drink has two variations: one straight classic for whiskey lovers, and one as a more balanced drink. Here’s how to make it!

What’s a whiskey highball?

A whiskey highball is part of the highball cocktails family: mixed drinks that combine alcohol with a larger percentage of non-alcoholic mixer. Other famous highballs are the gin and tonic or vodka cranberry. The whiskey highball was born in the early 1900’s and initially combined Scotch whiskey with soda water, called “scotch and soda.” The ingredients you’ll need for whiskey highball are:

  • Whiskey (bourbon, rye, Scotch)
  • Soda water (or ginger ale or ginger beer)
  • Lemon, for garnish

Mix them together, and you’ve got a bubbly, refreshing mixed drink starring your favorite whiskey. If you’re a whiskey lover, you’ll prefer it with soda water.

How to make a whiskey highball

Use soda water, ginger ale or ginger beer

What does mixing whiskey and soda water taste like? In truth: like watered down whiskey. It’s nothing like a Vodka Tonic: the vodka version of a highball that tastes light and citrusy. Here’s a little breakdown on the bubbles to use in a whiskey highball:

  • Soda water: Use soda water if you’re a whiskey lover! It’s a great way to appreciate the complexity of whiskey with no sweetness.
  • Ginger ale or ginger beer: If you prefer more balanced drinks like the Whiskey Sour, try this drink with ginger ale or ginger beer. It gives it more sweet notes to balance out the dry, spicy whiskey.
Whiskey highball

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 (though we like the vodka tonic), gin highball, tequila highball…whatever strikes your fancy!

Other famous highball cocktails

There are lots of other famous highball cocktails: which happen to be some of the easiest mixed drinks around. After you make this whiskey highball, consider trying:

  • Tom Collins Cocktail This nostalgic cocktail is about as classic as it gets! This tall drink is a essentially gin sour, a sweet and sour drink made with gin: a cousin of the gin fizz!
  • Sea Breeze Cocktail Want a highball cocktail that’s laid-back, tart and refreshing? Look no further than the Sea Breeze! It tastes just like its name: light, breezy, and all about no-frills vibes.
  • Americano Cocktail It’s bitter, complex and bubbly all at once! Starring Campari and vermouth, it’s both sophisticated and carefree at the same time. 
  • Classic Moscow Mule You might not think of a mule as a highball cocktail since it’s served in a copper mug. But it is, because of the ginger beer mixer! 
Whiskey highball

When to serve a whiskey highball

The whiskey highball cocktail is bubbly and whiskey-forward, perfect for summer occasions. It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Summer drink
  • Before dinner drink (aperitif)
  • Cocktail hour drink

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Highball cocktails

Classic Whiskey Highball


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make the classic whiskey highball: tall, bubbly, and all about the spirit! This cocktail is a refreshing way to enjoy your favorite whiskey.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • 4 ounces soda water (or ginger ale or ginger beer, for a sweeter spin*)
  • Lemon wedge
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)

Instructions

  1. Fill a glass with ice. Pour in the whiskey and soda water and stir gently.
  2. Squeeze in the lemon wedge and serve.

Notes

*Soda water is the most traditional and is very spirit-forward. Ginger ale or ginger beer results in a more balanced drink because it adds sweetness.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Whiskey highball, How to make a whiskey highball

More classic whiskey drinks

Love whiskey? Us too. Here are some of our favorite whiskey drinks (and bourbon cocktails):

  • Whiskey Sour The classic! Whiskey, lemon and simple syrup make a perfect combination.
  • Classic Old Fashioned Here’s the oldest cocktail there is: a truly timeless drink. Or try it smoked!
  • Whiskey Smash A classic cocktail that’s tangy and refreshing, featuring lemon juice and mint — it’s 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! It’s 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!
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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