Master of Cocktails The Highball

For this week’s #MasterofCocktails, we’re making a Highball. Incredibly refreshing, and probably in my all-time top three aperitifs. Well, top 5 anyway… (Martini, Negroni, Campari-Soda…) Yep. Top 5.

Now, whilst this may seem a very straight-forward cocktail (and in many ways is), it’s all in the balance and execution. I had one of my favourites a couple of weeks ago at Bincho (a Japanese Restaurant with its own ‘whisky joint’ in the basement), where they paired Hakushu 12 single malt with Fresh Mint.

We’re going to use Lemon Peel as the ‘garnish’ in our drink, but we want it to be very, very subtle. More on that later…

Master of Cocktails The Highball ingredients

You’ll be needing these…

List of Ingredients

So – first things first – we’re going to get a hunk of beautiful, clear ice out of the freezer and leave it to temper. If you want to know how to make massive, clear ice – take a look at my recent post here.

Master of Cocktails Highball ice

At this stage you can see how it’s still deep-frozen, and may crack if we add anything to it.

Incidentally, I’m not worried about the flavour of the frost on that chunk as I know it’s been sealed in an airtight bag. You absolutely must make sure to store all ice (not just chunks) in sealed bags as it’s so easy for it to pick up smells.

Onto assembling the drink: we’re going to do the garnish (or rather the citrus element – there is no garnish) first. Sounds mental but bear with me. The reason for this is that we do want some zest in the drink, but floating the oils on top isn’t where we’re going with this as it’ll knacker your palate and ruin your appreciation of the whisky.

So – What you’re going to do is take a clean barspoon:

Master of Cocktails Highball bar spoon

Then get a clean sheet of A4 paper, and cut a tiny square(ish) hole about 1cm2, give or take.

Master of Cocktails Highball paper

We’re going to use this paper to mask off the barspoon thus:

Master of Cocktails Highball covered barspoon

Peel a strip off your lemon. The Fresher the better. Use Amalfi if you can find them (you can’t).

Master of Cocktails Highball lemon

Now express the peel (once only) over the paper and spoon.

Master of Cocktails Highball express lemon peel

See all that oil? That’s what we were going for. There’s a tiny bit on the barspoon…

Master of Cocktails Highball lemon oil

…but only a tiny bit. Citrus is *so* powerful that we really only want the tiniest bit.

Now we’re going to add the whisky. I’m using a Japanese Whisky – Yamazaki 12yo. This stuff is delicious.

It’s fair to say that the Highball is pretty much single-handedly responsible for the revitalisation of the Japanese whisky industry, following Suntory’s massive marketing drive behind the drink in the past 15 years or so. The use of this superb whisky therefore seemed fitting – 40ml please.

Master of Cocktails Highball Yamazaki 12 year old

Now, add the whisky to a tumbler (I know, I know. I just prefer them to highball glasses).

Master of Cocktails Highball tumbler

Give the whisky a stir for a few seconds using the lemon-oil-sprayed barspoon.

Master of Cocktails Highball stir in oil

This method of incorporation for the oil will mean that it’s dispersed in the whisky evenly, rather than floating on top. There’s no problem dissolving this quantity of oil, and doing it at room temperature means it’ll incorporate more easily.

Next, we’re going to add the soda water. Ice comes last, and as we’ve tempered it, it won’t ‘fizz up’. Promise. Goes without saying that choice of soda water is of course personal, but I quite like Waitrose’s.

Master of Cocktails Highball Waitrose club soda

We’re going to use 160ml of Soda Water. This ratio might seem low, but this should be a long drink to be enjoyed over time.

Measure it very carefully so as to retain as much fizz as possible.

Master of Cocktails Highball measure soda

Finally, add your ice chunk, carefully.

Master of Cocktails Highball add ice

And there we have it. The Highball. A truly beautiful aperitif.

Master of Cocktails Highball





Here’s our friend Irving (@Reemus22)’s Highball – if you made/make one at home be sure to send a photo to @MasterofMalt, we’d love to see them!

Master of Cocktails Highball by @Reemus22

He opted for the aforementioned Hakushu 12yo (one of 7 Japanese whiskies he had to hand!)

Finally, these are the ingredients for next week’s #MasterofCocktails – tune in on Twitter at 6pm Sunday or find it all here on the blog next Monday.

Master of Cocktails Highball Next Week

Next week, you’ll be needing these…
Club Soda, a Lemon, Angostura Bitters, Bénédictine D.O.M., Luxardo Sangue Morlacco Cherry Liqueur and St. George Botanivore Gin