Cocktail origin stories are sometimes difficult to sort out, and the highball falls into that category. The drink emerged in the late 1890s, and several sources indicate that bartenders in England called whiskey drinks “balls,” and tall or “high” glasses were used for such drinks. Another theory says the name comes from a 19th-century railroad signal. When the ball was high or raised on the signal post, the train could pass through without stopping. In “The Joy of Mixology,” Gary Regan writes that the drink mimics the train signal that it was time to go: two short whistles followed by one long one, as the drink consists of 2 ounces of whiskey and a long pour of ginger ale or soda.
2 ounces whiskey
4 to 6 ounces ginger ale (or club soda; enough to fill)
When you want to get a little more complex, go for the Irish gold: Irish whiskey, peach schnapps, and orange juice.
A classic favorite is the one and only John Collins, a mix of bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda.
It’s very similar to the whiskey fizz, which opts for sugar over syrup and is generally made with blended whiskey.
One of the easiest highballs is the branded Seven and Seven: Seagram’s 7 Crown Whiskey and 7-Up.
When you want to take your whiskey to the drier side, mix up the leprechaun. With Irish whiskey and tonic water, it’s an excellent dinner companion.
The Japanese love a highball at dinnertime and in social settings. They make it with fine attention to detail, mixing Japanese whiskey with sparkling water.