Time for a highball – it’s warm enough for this Campari highball in this Highball Whiskey Spritz. It’s highball week for those of you still in quarantine with me, and what easier way to enjoy your whiskey than a build-it-in-your-glass summer cocktail with sparking water added. The classic highball is just whiskey and ginger ale or sparkling water, and that always lets the whiskey shine through.
But, let’s do some more interesting riffs and flavor combinations to delve into highballs this week. I made a trip to the grocery and liquor stores and there are plenty of flavored sparkling waters right now. Spending time sampling sparkling waters and deciding which whiskey to pair them with is a treat with all of those options open right now.
With a highball, I find the biggest challenge is making sure that the whiskey remains detectable in the cocktails. By definition, the highball has a high mixer to whiskey ratio, generally 1:3 or 1:4 depending on the type of mixer and the glass you’re using. For those of us used to high proof sprits and high proof alcohol we can lose too much of our favorite whiskiness in a cocktail with that much mixer. So it comes down to balancing the flavor of the mixer with characteristics you want to highlight in the whiskey.
Highballs, like old fashioneds, have their own specific glass – a tall glass with room for ice, but not a lot of surface area on top for the carbonation to dissipate quickly. I generally build them in the glass, adding the spirit and flavoring over the ice, giving it a quick stir, then topping with the carbonated beverage and giving just a short stir to combine. Carbonation keeps mixing the ingredients as they bubble up to the top of the cocktail.
It’s a super easy sipping cocktail, and one you can personalize with your favorite whiskey and favorite flavored mixer for your own Highball Whiskey Spritz.
I want to start with one that can almost be a cross between a spritz and a highball as I included a little Campari. It’s gorgeous to build in the glass, with a magenta to pastel gradient and the bubbles make it refreshing to drink.
I used Cardamaro (a cardamom-based amaro) to go with the orange-spiced Fever Tree ginger ale and Campari along with the whiskey. For the whiskey, I kept to my old standby – Old Forester, but it’s also amazing with a New Riff BIB bourbon as well.
To bring out a smidge more citrus I’ve got a swath of orange as a garnish which makes each sip full of those orange oils as your hand brushes the peel. You’ll want a whiskey that can stand up to the Campari – so anything that goes well in a Boulevardier will work here.
For those of you curious about the other recipes in the Quarantine Series, I’ll put them here before you skim past to get to the recipe. Quarantine Donut cocktails ( Maple Caramel Long John, Pecan Sticky Bun cocktail and Blueberry Cake Donut, Boston Cream Cocktail and Apple Fritter Cocktail). Quarantine Juleps, (Breakfast Julep, the Pineapple Sage Rum Julep, Elvis Julep (peanut butter-banana), Root Beer Float Julep, and the Persian Julep (rose-apricot) ), Quarantine Old Fashioneds (Breakfast Wakey Wakey, Smoke and Spice, Home School, Taco Truck, and Campari/Bitter Lessons ), Quarantine Manhattans (Balanced Perfection (Perfect Manhattan), Coffee Manhattan, Chocolate Ginger Manhattan, French Quarter Manhattan, and the Caramel Orange Manhattan.), Quarantine Whiskey Sours (Blackberry Sunset, Whiskey Tiki, Blue Mood Orange, Ya Basic, and Peach Rosemary), and Quarantine Smashes (Whiskey Smash, Blackberry Sage Smash, Pineapple Tiki Smash, Strawberry Basil Smash and the Coffee Cherry Smash.)
Highball Afternoon Spritz
- 1.5 oz Old Forester or New Riff bourbon (add an extra 1/2 oz if it's missing that whiskey zing or use a higher proof whiskey)
- ½ oz Campari
- 2 barspoons Cardamaro
- 4-6 oz Fever Tree Spiced Orange Ginger Ale
- Garnish: orange peel or wheel
- In a highball glass, add ice, pour in the Campari, Cardamaro, bourbon and give it a quick stir. Top with the ginger ale and garnish with an orange peel or orange wheel. Give it one more quick stir and you’re ready to sip.