As we sprint through our summer of sport, we thought it’d be nice to suggest some ace summer spirit serves and push the boundaries with alternatives to a gin and tonic or Pimm’s.
Summer drinking is largely about quenching a thirst, so neat spirits like whisky and rum, while glorious in moderation, are not ideal if you’re enthralled in a drawn-out five setter or time-consuming Test. When weighing up your favourite spirits, long drinks let you lengthen the experience and apply a bit of moderation, thus avoiding any of your own unforced errors.
So, while you’re tutting at no balls, or getting a feel for new balls, note that the highball is a classic cocktail serve. It dates to the American bar menus of the late 19thcentury and is typically a simple mix of two ingredients, spirit and carbonate to lengthen. The trick to perfection is temperature control. It helps if you can chill the glass beforehand and use quality ice, so larger, double frozen chunks rather than the fast-melting cubes from a standard tray. The carbonate should be chilled, but even keeping the spirit in a fridge can prevent the drink diluting too quickly, which will extend your time with one drink.
The master of the highball is the Scotch & Soda, one of the most discerning methods of stretching the taste stimulation of a single malt. We are not averse to using any single malt in a long drink and while some purists will scoff at the idea, our argument is that a great malt with soda makes for a better highball than any drink using a cheap whisky.
In our experiments, one of the best exponents has been The Singleton, the strength of this single malt is a rounded, rich sweet profile that effortlessly extends with the addition of soda. This is a crucial asset in a single malt when you are seeking that perfect highball serve.
Here then are some long and effervescent suggestions to sip on while you enjoy an equally sparkling summer of sport.
Scotch and Soda
As stated above, The Singleton is splendid suitor for soda, the spirit has won numerous awards for its complex flavour, and yet the accessibility of the single malt makes it at home in the hands of both avid neat sipper and the keenest cocktailian. With significant spells resting in European oak its rounded sweetness is offset by a subtle spice and when mixed with soda its nutty profile really comes alive on nose and palate.
40ml The Singleton
Slice of orange
Method: Fill a highball glass with cubed ice, add The Singleton and stir over ice for 5 seconds, then add soda and softly stir for 3 seconds. Garnish with a fresh slice of orange.
Rum and lemonade
While the lauded Venezuelan Diplomatico Reserve Exclusiva (12 year old) (https://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/p/11466/diplomatico-reserva-exclusiva-rum) has made a huge impact on the emerging trend of sipping rums, Diplomatico Mantuano is slightly younger in age (8 year old) and combines sweet vanilla with slightly fresher quality. As a result, it’s great in mixed drinks. ‘Rum and lemonade’ sounds like an unimaginative alternative to a rum and coke, but rather than using a cheap lemonade we suggest making your own for the drink to bring extra acidity and offset the sweeter profile of the spirit.
50 ml Mantuano
1 Lemon (chopped)
3 Barspoons Caster sugar
Fill glass with still or sparkling water
Method: Chop up lemon into wedges, making sure to leave a large wedge for garnish. Add caster sugar and then muddle, making sure to dissolve the sugar with the juice of the lemon. Add ice and rum, stir all then part fill with sparkling water, stir again, add ice to fill glass, topping with more water if needed. Garnish with a lemon wedge
Gin & Juice
No summer is complete without a gin drink but take a break from a gin and tonic with a variation on the theme. Here we’ve used the excellent Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz, created using a selection of vintage shiraz grapes picked in Australia’s Yara Valley wine region where the Four Pillars distillery is based. The grapes are macerated in the Four Pillars Rare Dry gin over eight weeks and the result is an extraordinarily fruity spirit that is incredible neat or with tonic. Here we’ve lengthened it with other fruit flavours, apple and lime enhancing the spice and balancing the sweet.
50ml Bloody Shiraz
15ml fresh lime juice
cloudy Apple juice
Method: Mix gin and juice in a highball over ice Garnish with a fresh squeeze of lime
Another useful long drink serve for the summer is the Tom Collins, a blend of gin, sugar, lemon juice and soda. But one of our great re-discoveries this year has been the cognac liqueur Grand Marnier. Made using an orange liqueur blended with quality Cognacs, there is real complexity to this spirit that can be stretched to great effect in a long drink. In this alternative take on the Collins then, you can simply replace gin with Grand Marnier and enjoy an refreshing but equally complex and layered flavour profile.
50 ml Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
15 ml fresh lemon juice
Method: Place ice cubes in a highball glass and add Grand Marnier, then fresh lemon juice. Top up with soda water and stir well before adding orange zest and raspberry garnish to cocktail.
Tom Sandham & Ben McFarland are the Thinking Drinkers, award-winning drinks writers who are performing their critically acclaimed theatrical tasting shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and on tour across the UK from August. For dates visit www.thinkingdrinkers.com