Take eggs, sugar, and whole milk and you have all that you need to make an egg custard. Simple? Low-maintenance? Gratifying? Check, check, check. Now, take essentially the same ingredients and add time and attention to the process and voilà! Crème brulee. Simple? Not so much. Certainly more dazzling, per se, but no more gratifying. And so it goes with a highball. It seems so rudimentary — whiskey, ice, and soda water. But this drink is far greater than the sum of its parts. To best understand, we have to turn to the Japanese. Just as sushi chefs famously spend entire careers in the seemingly simple pursuit of making the best rice on Earth, I have witnessed bartenders in Tokyo who are committed to taking the highball to a transcendent level. For them, the choice of liquor matters as much as the density of the ice, the carbonation of the water, and other factors that require scientific tools to measure. But here’s the glorious thing about the highball: it’s delicious with far less effort, too. As the hectic holiday season encroaches and the chaotic political news keeps unfurling, a stunning cocktail you can whip up at home with very little effort is a dependable means for reminding us of the necessity of simplicity.
Makes 1 drink
2 ounces whiskey of choice
1 ounce soda water
1 lemon wedge for garnish (optional)
1. Add ice to a 12-ounce Collins glass. Pour whiskey of choice over ice.
2. Add soda water. Sit back and let the bubbles go to work integrating the water with whiskey.
3. Garnish with lemon wedge.
Liza Weisstuch can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram @livingtheproof.