As the Cocktail of the Week thread has continued over the months, some trends have emerged, beyond the initial ground rule that only classic cocktails were to be covered.
One has been that most of the cocktails featured have been pretty simple, only having three or four ingredients and being pretty straightforward to make. Part of this is necessity – I don’t have a vast cocktail cabinet, filled with every liqueur known to man.
Another reason is that I prefer relatively simple drinks – I don’t want to be mucking around with strange techniques, or juggling cocktail shakers like I’m in an 80’s Tom Cruise film. (I can’t juggle, for one thing.)
And the Highball was the original fast, simple cocktail. It’s one spirit, one mixer, one garnish.
The Highball was invented in the 1890’s by Patrick Duffy, a New York barman (not the guy out of Dallas).
His aim was to create a cocktail quickly, by simply pouring a spirit and a mixer (club soda or ginger ale) into an ice filled glass.
At the time, railway companies would tell train drivers to speed up by raising a ball on a pole, with highball coming to mean something that was fast. It was the perfect name for the new cocktail.
The Highball became popular in the 1920’s, despite (or perhaps because of) Prohibition. By the 1930’s it became acceptable to add bitters and other things to the drink, but there still had to be only one base spirit and a sparkling mixer.
I’m fond of gin and ginger ale, so this is the version I went for.
2 1/2 msr gin
5 msr ginger ale
Dash Angostura bitters
Pour gin, then ginger ale into a tall glass filled with ice, add a dash of bitters and garnish with a lemon.
As I said, it’s ridiculously simple. But it tastes none the worse for it. Ginger ale makes a nice alternative to tonic water as it’s not too sweet, but it’s still refreshing.