Didn’t know that Thomas Robert “Tommy” Dewar, a Scottish whisky distiller who along with his brother John Dewar built their family label Dewar’s into an international success, gave birth to the ‘Original Highball” until May 20, 2023.
The Highball is a strong alcoholic beverage usually made by adding a non-alcoholic, usually carbonated, drink to whisky with the whole cocktail being served in a large glass of ice. In Japan, a drink that everyone knows and is commonly served in izakayas (Japanese drinking restaurants) is the Highball.
The word is derived from the practice of serving drinks in tall glasses, on the dining cars of trains powered by steam locomotives, where the engine would get up to speed and the ball that showed boiler pressure was at its high level, known as “highballing”.
Scotch & Soda, Gin & Tonic, Whiskey & Ginger, Vodka & Tonic and Rum & Coke are all classic examples of Highballs.
History has it that in 1892, while out with friends in New York, Tommy Dewar asked for his whisky to be served in a tall glass, along with soda and ice. And so the “Original Highball” was born, and became the perfect drink to enhance the smoothness of Dewar’s whisky.
In recent years, Dewar’s has been independently voted by the bartenders of Japan as the best whisky to make a Highball. It is believed that’s because the Dewar’s range has been Double Aged for Extra Smoothness, and the refreshing taste makes Dewar’s Highballs the perfect accompaniment to food.
On May 20, 2023, Hotel Telegraph’s 1927 Rooftop Bar in Singapore hosted a Dewar’s’ Whisky Highball Masterclass to which I was invited. It was led by Mike Cheong from the Bacardi team and he taught the participants how to make their own classic Dewar’s Whisky Highball, as well as how to use additional ingredients to put a spin on the classic at home with friends.
He began with the DEWAR’s Whisky Original Highball, which is a simple but delicious drink made with Dewar’s White Label blended Scotch whisky, soda water and a lemon wedge. It was the perfect drink to enjoy the hot day and kickstart the masterclass.
THE ORIGINAL SODA HIGHBALL
The classic highball is simple and refreshing.
60ml Dewar’s 12-year-old
100ml Soda water
1. Add Dewar’s 12-year-old to chilled highball glass
2. Fill with cubed ice and soda
3. Stir twice, then spray lemon zest over the top and garnish.
The rich honey notes in Dewar’s whisky come to life with the fruity and floral notes of St Germain Elderflower liqueur.
It is a French liqueur made with fresh elderflowers, hand-picked once a year in the late spring.
To accomplish its exquisitely natural flavour, every bottle of St Germain contains up to 1,000 of the very best elderflower blossoms, resulting in a finely crafted, perfectly balanced and refined liqueur.
40ml Dewar’s 15-year-old
20ml St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
100ml Fever Tree soda
1. Add all ingredients to chilled glass
2. Add cubed ice
3. Add soda
4. Stir once and spray lemon oils over the top of the glass
5. Twist and place into drink
6. Give mint sprig a clap, and place it next to lemon twist.
This was an amazingly good highball I concocted. The elderflower liqueur gave it a sweet, floral taste. The notes of citrus, pear, passionfruit and honeysuckle added a unique smooth finish to my drink.
This was a slightly stronger Highball inspired by Tommy’s margarita and the Moscow mule. Tall, spicy, sweet and citrusy.
60ml Dewar’s 15-year-old
100ml Ginger Beer
5ml Agave Syrup
4 Lime quarters
1. Muddle lime in the base of the glass
2. Add whisky and fill with cubed ice
3. Add ginger beer, stir and garnish.
Mike’s masterclass taught me a few things:
* How to make a classic Dewar’s whisky Highball
* How to use additional ingredients to create my own variations
* How to choose the right whisky for a highball
Hotel Telegraph’s 1927 Rooftop Bar was the ideal setting for the masterclass as it offered stunning views of the Singapore skyline.
As the tropical sun set on World Whisky Day, I enjoyed a few refreshingly tasty Whisky Highball sundowners along with good company.
Guests will be able to enjoy a Dewar’s Highball Happy Hour at 1927 Rooftop Bar from June 1 to 30, 2023. The happy hour will run from 6pm to 8pm. Price: Dewar’s & Soda Highball at $11++; Elderflower Highball & Tommy’s Mule Highball at $14++.