February is the month of love, but rather than raking over old ground of sharers, innuendo or, worse still, “aphrodisiac” cocktails, we thought we’d explore how taking two great flavours and pairing them properly can give you one spectacular highball cocktail.
Firstly, we have to understand what a cocktail is. The legal definition of a cocktail is a “drink which contains three or more different liquids (not counting water)”. But this is just a means to keep our weights and measures in check.
The dictionary definition of a cocktail is “an alcoholic drink consisting of a spirit or spirits mixed with other ingredients, such as fruit juice or cream” – hmm, a bit boring.
For us, a cocktail is the coupling of two or more flavours to create a new and exciting flavour. The most famous and simple cocktail we can all make is the G&T. “That’s not a cocktail!” we hear you cry. But, for us, it is.
The definition of the highball cocktail is a spirit mixed with a larger amount of carbonated soda – a recipe that has been written about since the late 1800s and sounds exactly like a G&T to me!
We’re all pretty confident with mixing the perfect G&T, especially with the explosion in its popularity over the past few years. But what about extending these skills to partnering other spirits and mixers?
Here are a few highball cocktail ideas that you may want to rustle up at home:
Vermouth and tonic
Tonic is not just gin’s perfect partner. It also works with a variety of spirits, one of the most interesting being vermouth – a wine-steeped spirit with botanicals.
Vermouth has shaken off its old-fashioned image as “granny’s favourite” and embraced the modern palate, showcasing an array of flavours. A word of warning though; no two vermouths are the same, they are all unique.
Supermarkets too have embraced this new world of vermouth and rather than just stocking Martini, you can now find frontier-pushing brands like Belsazar or Cocchi on the shelves, or even Regal Rogue Australian vermouth.
This vermouth uses unique indigenous botanicals and wines, such as the bold Barossa Valley Shiraz with wattleseed, cinnamon clove, native thyme and among others. Here, we’ve matched 50ml Regal Rogue Bold Red and one bottle of Merchants heart hibiscus tonic. Build in a long glass with loads of ice.
Whisky and soda
One of the most famous and enduring of all the highballs is whisky and soda. In Japan, it remains the most celebrated of all drinks, akin to our G&T. Here you’ll find elaborate rituals with ice, carbonation and technique to find the perfect end result. This is, of course, built on the fact that Japan has become one of the world leaders in producing the oak-aged elixir.
For this drink, we’ve mixed together the very approachable Toki Grain whisky with a Bottle Green elderflower soda. The honey floral notes of the Toki combine beautifully with the meadow-like sweetness of the elderflower.
To make a light, easy and refreshing drink, a million miles away from the whisky and soda of old, you will need: 50ml Toki Whisky and top with Bottle Green elderflower presse. Build in a long glass with loads of ice.
Fancy learning the art of cocktail making? Check out our upcoming classes, by clicking here.