The Highball Cocktail and Its History

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There are various types of cocktails, and the highball cocktail is just one of them. It is good to know about all of them so we can easily recognize them; moreover, the world of cocktails is to intricate and complex that it can take a while for someone to realize what types of mixed drinks they prefer. As for the highball cocktail, it represents a family of cocktails that have an alcohol base but use a larger quantity of non-alcoholic mixer. The most famous highball is the Scotch and Soda in all its simplicity, and  which is made by mixing carbonated water with whiskey.

Highball Cocktail Highball Cocktail picture

It is usually difficult to trace the history and origins of certain cocktails, and the highball cocktail is no exception. In this case however, the difficulty lies in being able to tell which was the first highball, or which is the oldest that we know about. There are a few rivals which claim to be the first mixers of the highball, one of them being the Adams House bar from Boston. It is near impossible to be certain however, especially since bartender Patrick Duffy from New York believed it was the American actor E.J. Ratcliffe who first brought the highball to the United States from England, in 1894.

The dictionary can also be revelatory where the origins of the highball cocktail are concerned; thus, in the Online Etymology Dictionary we find out that the name probably originated in 1898. It came from ball, which meant having fun or “drinking whiskey”, and from high because they would serve it in tall glasses. Another indication for the name could also stem from steam locomotives when they would go at maximum speed, and the ball which indicated boiler pressure reached high levels; this was called “highballing”, and the people who drank in the train’s dining cars could have associated the two.

If you are interested in trying one of the many highball cocktails, know that the most popular are the Cuba Libre, the Scotch and Soda, the Bourbon and Coke, the Seven and Seven and the Gin and Tonic. Although the typical tall glass adopted the name highball, these types of drinks are also served in a Collins glass, which is very similar. A very interesting highball cocktail is the Brown Bronco, made by mixing bourbon whiskey with Orange Crush Soda. The Bourbon Highball is made with bourbon, ginger ale and lemon, but you can also try the sensational Caribou Lou with one and a half parts of  151 rum, one part Malibu rum and five parts pineapple juice.

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