Highballs are a thing of beauty! Simple, bubbly and refreshing. Built in the glass, no shaking or straining required, it’s an easy drink to mix up for parties picnics, or after a long day. Although I used a certain technique to mix up my highballs (hello ombré!), you can just add everything to the glass and get to sipping. Easy as 1,2,3- ice, spirit, and soda.
When it comes to a well made highball, it’s all about the proper dilution and bubbles. The higher carbonation the better. I like to use 4 oz of soda water to 2 oz base spirit. It’s my ratio for my G&T’s and seems to meet the perfect balance of alcohol to mixer, at least as far as my palate goes. I used a little more than 2 oz for the base spirit here, the brandy plus a liqueur and a syrup so I added in a scosch more soda water, but if you are just doing 2 oz of spirit my preference is 4 oz soda water.
I like to use a large ice cubes, in this case 1 long spear (I made it at home using a cooler using Camper English’s directional freezing) so the ice does not melt too quickly and dilute it more and throw off the ratio. Once adding my spirits, any other modifiers, and soda water, I stir the ice in the glass to chill the drink. You can also pre-chill your spirit and ingredients to get an extra cold and refreshing highball.
I whipped up a vanilla blackberry syrup for a Julep recently and decided to incorporate it into a brandy highball. I added in some Lillet for some floral, bitters notes along with the star: Bertoux Brandy.
Bertoux Brandy is a California brandy that’s relatively new to the market, but has major chops behind it. Both in terms of the juice and the people behind the label. Jeff Bell of PDT in New York and sommelier Thomas Pastuszak who works with the NOMAD are the master blenders for the grape brandy. It’s made of 40% French Colombard grapes, with a blend of 3-7 year old brandies that have been aged in 2/3 French oak medium toasted barrels 1/3 American oak. The combination of these two woods give Bertoux the perfect blend of floral high notes and rich spices. I get Honeysuckle for the floral top note that gives way to vanilla and nutmeg, followed by something very specific: a finish of raw buttermilk pancake batter. It’s delicious! A perfect for traditional applications of brandy as well as new ones. It’s made to mixed, but also sipped. Versatile when choosing a brandy to buy!
Bertoux Brandy is also setting out to help establish an AOC and regulations for California brandy. Considering the notoriety of many of California wine regions, it would make sense to set forth regulations for production, grapes, aging etc. with the popularity of American and California brandies on the shelf and the back bar. Looking forward to seeing this venture explored and developed! Now for that recipe…
- 2 1/4 oz Bertoux Brandy (c/o Bertoux)
- 1/2 oz Vanilla Blackberry Syrup, recipe below
- 1/2 oz Lillet
- 4 1/2 oz soda water
- garnish: lemon peel*, blackberry, edible flowers (I used a pansy)
Add ice to a high ball glass, preferably a long spear. Add brandy, Vanilla Blackberry Syrup, and Lillet to the glass, trying to avoid pouring onto the ice. Stir well to combine. To create the ombre effect, pour soda water slowly over the back of a spoon or alternatively, using a bar spoon, pour the soda down the steam of the spoon into the glass. The controlled pour keeps the denser base of spirit and syrup from mixing. You’ll want to stir the drink well to inappropriate the soda water before sipping so you get a well balanced sip! Express lemon peel over the glass. Garnish with lemon peel, blackberry and edible flower.
- 1 cup Turbinado or Demerara sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup blackberries
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split
Add water and sugar to a pot over medium high heat and stir. Once sugar dissolves, add blackberries and vanilla. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat at let cool. Remove the vanilla bean and add berries and syrup mixture to a blender. Blend. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.