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This whiskey highball is a simple and refreshing way to enjoy your favorite whiskey. It's a classic mixed drink of whiskey and soda water, served in a tall ice-filled glass with a lemon wedge. It tastes great, and couldn't be easier to make!
If you love whiskey cocktails, also try whiskey ginger!
Keep it simple and satisfying with this refreshing drink for whiskey lovers. The whiskey highball (also known as a whiskey soda) combines three simple ingredients: whiskey, soda water, and lemon. Each ingredient serves a purpose, adding nuance and dimension to this straightforward beverage.
Nobody says you have to enjoy your whiskey neat! Spirits are meant to be enjoyed in anyway you like. Adding soda water brings down the alcohol content to roughly that of beer, and removes some of the bite from the whiskey.
It's a bubbly, light, and refreshing way to enjoy whiskey so keep this quick and easy recipe handy!
What is a whiskey highball?
A whiskey highball is a classic cocktail that originated in the early 1900s. Since then it has evolved and become popular, especially in Japan, with bartenders and whiskey lovers alike paying great attention to the finer details of this simple drink.
The formula for a highball cocktail combines alcohol with a larger proportion of non-alcohol mixer like gin and tonic, vodka and cranberry, or a vodka soda.
While the whiskey highball was originally made with soda water, it's now commonly made with ginger ale for a sweeter drink.
Whiskey highball ingredients
Here's everything you'll need to make this whiskey highball recipe:
- Whiskey – Japanse whiskey or an unpeated scotch whiskey are the best choices here.
- Soda water – we use a higher quality club soda like this one. It has small bubbles, a sharp fizz, and a delicate aroma, making it perfect for bringing out the flavors of fine whiskies.
- Lemon wedge – for garnish and a pop of bright citrus flavor.
How to make a whiskey highball
A Japanese whisky highball is one part spirit to three parts soda water. It's an easy drink to make by following two simple steps:
- Start by filling a highball glass with ice.
- Add the whiskey and the soda water, stir, then garnish with a lemon wedge. Enjoy!
Sometimes a whiskey ginger is confused with a whiskey highball. To turn this cocktail into a whiskey ginger, simply use ginger ale instead of soda water. The portions are exactly the same, so if someone prefers a sweeter drink, ginger ale is a good choice. Read more about the differences between these two classic cocktails in our whiskey ginger recipe!
Choosing the best whiskey for a highball
There are very few whiskeys that don't work well in a whisky highball. Choose from blended, bourbon, Canadian, and rye whiskeys, but avoid peaty scotches. Since you'll be diluting it, steer away from anything too expensive. Some new Japanese whiskeys (like the no-age Suntory Toki in the pictures) were actually created to be served in a highball and mixed with soda, so keep your eyes out for them.
Can I use sparkling water in place of club soda?
In a pinch! A good quality club soda is carbonated with added minerals. These added minerals give it a slightly saltier taste which help bring out the flavors of the whiskey.
I'm throwing a party. Is this a good cocktail to make in a pitcher?
Since making a whiskey highball is very easy, we recommend making them in a glass. (You'll lose some of the bubbles if you mix one first in a pitcher and then pour it into a glass.) If you're making a bunch, line up all your ice-filled glasses, add the whiskey to all the glasses, then top with soda water and a lemon wedge.
When to serve a whiskey highball
With its diluted alcohol content, the whiskey soda is a great companion for food. Serve it with snacks or appetizers at happy hour, cheese boards, main courses, or anything bacon. Here are a few recipe ideas to get you started:
- 2 ounces whiskey (Japanese or unpeated Scottish)
- 6 ounces soda water (see notes)
- Lemon wedge (to serve)
- Fill a highball glass with ice.
- Add the whiskey and then soda water. Briefly stir your drink then garnish with a lemon wedge.2 ounces whiskey, 6 ounces soda water
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.