It’s Time You Learned The Art Of Making Highballs And Mixed Drinks

Life Writer
03.29.17 3 Comments


This week — in our pursuit to help you master all things drinks — we’re tackling the world of the highball and the mixed drink. This is often where bar menus get a little confusing for the uninitiated (and even shitty bartenders). Drinks are generally broken down into categories. You have your cocktails, sours, juleps, punches, fizzes, and so forth. And then there’s always that menu — usually at the back of the book — for “mixed drinks” or “long drinks” or, if the bar knows what it’s doing, “highballs.”

These are the simple unsung heroes of most bars. They’re also the drinks that end up getting ordered the most. Why? Because sometimes you don’t want to wait ten minutes for a mixologist to shake that martini. A highball is a two ingredient drink of a base spirit and a carbonated mixer. It’s supposed to be served in a highball glass over ice. And it’ll have various garnishes to accentuate the drink. It’s fast and easy; down and dirty.

A ‘mixed drink’ generally adds in one more ingredient to the base plus a carbonated mixer. This is often a dash or two of bitters or a splash of citrus. Mixed drinks will come in a variety of different glasses or cups depending on the drink. That’s really all you need to know on a basic level.

Where these drinks get interesting is in the ingredients. More often than not, “well drinks” mostly fall into this category. That means you’re getting the rail liquor mixed with whatever carbonated sugar water is coming out of the soda gun behind the bar (always assume the soda gun is a watered down mix).

Recently, the resurgence of the gin and tonic has sparked a new era of high-end, well-crafted sodas and tonics in single serving glass bottles. Personally, I’m a big fan of soda brands like Franklin & Sons. They’ve been around for over 100 years (so they know what they’re doing) and they like to innovate by bringing in new flavors. The price point may be a little higher, but you’re paying for a product that earns the higher price through quality crafting.

Also remember that the lower the price of your mixer, the higher the sugar content. It’s also important to note that club soda/soda water is often just tap water that’s been hit with secondary carbonation to make it fizzy. Single serving mineral water should be naturally carbonated and often is more… well… mineral-y.

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