CREATING A HIGHBALL FOR ALL SEASONS
The highball is a hugely versatile serve, loved and sipped by customers across all regions of the globe. It’s a serve that bartenders can get creative with and one that allows them to show off their skills and personality. So, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, or when, we’ve got you covered with a Johnnie Walker inspired highball recipe for each of the four seasons, along with some top tips on how to use seasonal flavours to create delicious highballs all year round. Four talented Diageo Brand Ambassadors and bar professionals - Katie Nagar, Santiago Michelis, Jo Last and Rian Assidao share their highball serves for all seasons.
AUTUMN – KATIE NAGAR, AUSTRALIA
The best thing about highballs is that they are so versatile. They can work with a nearly endless combination of ingredients and flavours, consistently delivering an enjoyable drink that is balanced and delicious. It means that you really can create a highball for any occasion, or in this case any season.
When it comes to making any seasonal highball, the factor that is of the upmost importance is using ingredients that are in season. They are fresh, local and at their peak so why would you not? Here in New South Wales, autumn is the perfect time for certain orchard fruits like pears and figs so naturally I wanted to feature them in my highball recipe. Johnnie Walker Black Label has heaps of fresh and rich fruit character that match well with these autumnal ingredients.
Aside from using ingredients that are in season, I also like to incorporate emotional connections into my drink concepts. While Australia is currently my home, I spent the majority of my life growing up in the eastern United States where autumn is an entirely different experience. Some of my fondest memories are walking in the forest amongst the brilliantly beautiful changing leaves, the crisp air filled with aromas of wood and drying foliage. I wanted to emphasize the ‘woodsy’ character of Johnnie Walker Black Label by using ingredients that would bring in layers of tannic complexity. Oloroso sherry does exactly that, as well as adding a dry nuttiness to the drink. Whisky and tea have a simpatico relationship, so the sparkling black tea mixer was the perfect option to enhance earthy tannic notes and lengthen the drink.
Harvest Time Highball
- 30 ml Johnnie Walker Black Label
- 15 ml fig laced Oloroso sherry*
- 20 ml red pear syrup*
- 100 ml San Pellegrino sparkling limone & tea
- Garnish: fresh fig slice & thyme
Alcohol content: 11.49g
*Fig Laced Oloroso Sherry Method
Combine 200g of quartered figs with 500 ml Oloroso sherry into vac bag and seal. Sous vide at 50C for 45 min. Place bag in ice bath for 10 min. Strain through coffee filter. (Yield 500 ml).
*Red Pear Syrup Method
Juice approximately six quartered red pears to yield 600 ml. Immediately combine fresh pear juice into blender with 600g caster sugar, 3g citric acid, and 3g malic acid. Blitz until mix is fully homogenized. (Yield 1 L).
Find more highball recipes within the Johnnie Walker Little Black Book of Highballs.
WINTER – SANTIAGO MICHELIS, ARGENTINA
This highball is based on a recipe by Flavia Arroyo for Casa Cavia, in Buenos Aires.
We’ve got no hard winter here in sunny Buenos Aires, but for us, 5°C is quite cold! Tourists from colder places laugh at us wrapping up warm when it’s 10°C.
When winter arrives, the peak of our Scotch season arrives also, but as neat whisky is the usual serve, we need to be very creative when trying to nudge consumers on choosing a different way to drink Scotch, and especially for choosing the highball.
The concept of my highball recipe involves working strongly on enhancing the big flavours present in Johnnie Walker Black Label, making it shine without overpowering it, while combining innovative ingredients that pair well with winter and can challenge neat whisky. The drink is replicable with only a homemade cordial that can be easily made at home or in any bar.
We want to keep this highball simple, and let nature do the rest. The smell of fresh grass with the morning dew in gardens and parks in Buenos Aires is very typical in the winter - we are looking to bring this aroma to the bar. This light flavor will work amazingly with the flavours from Johnnie Walker Black label, a blended scotch with whiskies from the four corners of Scotland, rich and complex. Fresh fruits from Speyside malts such as apples and pears, hints of vanilla and a smoky kick as a backbone will still shine when mixed in this long drink and will warm up our customers who are feeling the cold!
- 30ml JW Black Label
- 30ml wheat grass cordial*
- 60ml soda
- Lemon & lime zest
- Build on a highball glass with abundant ice and top with soda.
Alcohol content: 9.48g
*For the cordial you will need:
- 400ml water
- 50ml fresh lime juice
- 5g dry wheat grass
- 200ml caster sugar
- Skins of 1 lemon & 1 lime
Cook the lime juice + water + wheatgrass at low temperature in a pan until boiling. Add sugar and dissolve. Let it cool, filter with a cloth and all done!
SPRING – JO LAST, UNITED KINGDOM
I bring to you a highball that embodies the spring months in the UK. Spring brings bright, tart and fruity rhubarb from the famous Yorkshire triangle and this, combined with the fresh grassy nature of dill, creates a perfect fresh tasting seasonal spring highball which embodies the beginning of the warmer months. Rhubarb compliments the smoky backbone of Johnnie Walker Black, meanwhile infusing the dill into the vinegar lifts the highball while adding acidity and a subtle fresh garden aroma.
The Spring Highball: rhubarb + dill
- 30ml Johnnie Walker Black Label
- 30ml rhubarb cordial*
- 10ml dill vinegar
- 90ml soda water
- Build over ice into a cold highball glass.
Alcohol content: 9.48g
*For the cordial you will need:
- 300g raw unforced rhubarb
- 300g sugar
- 150ml water (warm)
- 1.5 citric acid + 1.5 malic acid
- Muddle all together and let infuse for 5 hours or overnight (stirring occasionally). Strain through coffee filter.
- Dill vinegar
- 5g fresh dill
- Muddle dill and let it infuse into apple cider vinegar for 2 hours. Strain through coffee filter.
SUMMER – RIAN ASSIDAO, PHILIPPINES
The heat is on, summer is coming. Summer is my favourite season as I get to go to my favourite beach, island, or resort to unwind and enjoy the sun, sand, and waves. Here in the Philippines, we only have two seasons: the wet season and summer, and people are really looking forward to seeing the different islands of our beautiful archipelago.
A great way to enjoy the heat of sun, sand, and beach is to have a refreshing and fruity highball. Johnnie Summer is a simple highball that is great for relaxing in the hot weather. This recipe is a combination of the fruity and subtle smoky notes of Johnnie Walker Black Label with the fruit flavours of apples, cranberry, and lime soda. Johnnie Summer is my go-to highball while at the beach - refreshing, fizzy, fruity, and cold. This highball is easy to make as the ingredients can be found easily in your local grocer and brought behind the bar.
- 45ml Johnnie Walker Black Label
- 60ml apple – cranberry Juice
- Top off lime soda
- Orange slice
- Mix ingredients over ice and serve.
Alcohol content: 14.22g
- The Johnnie Walker highball can be adjusted to all seasons, making the most of local and seasonal ingredients
- Make your highball serve stand out with either an emotional or local connection
- Concentrate on how your guests are feeling during that season, and centre your recipe around that
- Try out various different flavours but you can’t go wrong with keeping the recipe simple
- Get creative with your serve – it’s your chance to show guests how versatile the highball really is
For more exciting highball recipes, take a look through the Johnnie Walker Little Black Book of Highball Recipes