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4 Tips To Master The Highball

Ever since we first discovered how to carbonate water, we’ve been mixing and enjoying it with all different kinds of spirits. The humble highball may not sound like much at first glance, but by mastering these four steps, you too can take your carbonated cocktails from “That’s alcohol and soda” to “THAT’S ALCOHOL AND SODA?!”.

  1. Keep it cool: Firstly, if you’re looking to make a perfect highball, keep everything from the spirits to the glasses as cold as possible. In Japan, you’ll frequently see highballs being served at local Izakayas in pre-frozen highball glasses or in some cases even frozen beer steins. The main reason for this is that the chill actually helps keep the bubbles fresh and sparkling for longer. No one wants to drink a flat, lukewarm highball, so make sure to pop those glasses in the freezer for a bit before you start mixing.
  2. Don’t Skimp On The Ice: Some of you will instinctively think that more ice equals more dilution, but I’m here to tell you that’s incorrect. You see, the more ice we put in the glass, the cooler the contents become. This keeps the ice from melting too quickly, diluting the drink and ruining the fizz. Plus, more ice is better on the eyes. So make sure to fill that glass up with a generous amount of cubes.
  3. The Golden Ratio: Now, this may sound obvious, but getting the ratio of ingredients right is paramount for mixing a great highball. This is a bit subjective, but I’d recommend starting with a 3:1 ratio of soda water to base spirit. So if you’re putting 45 ml of base spirit into your drink, you’ll want to use 135 ml of seltzer. However, the most important thing is that you and your guests like the taste of the drink, so if you feel like that ratio isn’t to your liking try experimenting with it a bit. If it feels too strong, try a 4:1 ratio. If you want something stronger, you can even try a 2:1. It all depends on what you prefer, but use 3:1 as a starting point and experiment from there to find what you like.
  4. Garnish Creatively: Last but not least, you’ll want a nice garnish for your highball. Preferably something that not only looks pretty but also helps amplify the flavors and aromas of your base spirit. For most, a simple citrus zest will do the trick, especially if you twist and rub the zest around the rim of the glass to express those aromatic oils. However, you can also get a bit more creative with your garnish, especially if you’re using flavored spirits. In our case, we like to look towards herbs and spices more commonly found in the kitchen. For example, in the video above, you’ll see AJ pairing Absolut Pears with Black Pepper and Thyme and Absolut Raspberri with Rosemary. These combinations are usually found in the kitchen but work equally as well behind the bar to help bring out the hidden qualities of your base spirit. So, make sure to experiment and try to find an unexpected pairing to complement the base spirit you’re using.

To finish off, I just want to urge you to read these tips and recipes more as guidelines than strict rules. Like I mentioned, the most important thing is to make something you enjoy, and if these guidelines get in the way of that, be sure to discard them. Also, I want to urge you to try experimenting with different base spirits. A highball is a great way to discover hidden qualities in most spirits and a great way to try different kinds for the first time. Remember, if you like the base spirit, you’re probably gonna like it in a highball.

For more tips, tricks, and cocktail recipes, make sure to visit absolutdrinks.com and subscribe to Absolut Drinks on YouTube.


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