Cold, tall and fizzy: Raise a glass to summer with a highball

To complement 8Arm's new Japanese menu and sushi bar, there are drinks such as the Octo Ball, with Suntory Toki whisky and kombu soda. Angela Hansberger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

To complement 8Arm's new Japanese menu and sushi bar, there are drinks such as the Octo Ball, with Suntory Toki whisky and kombu soda. Angela Hansberger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Summer isn’t far away, so it’s time for drinks that are refreshing, easy to drink and easy to make. Here’s a suggestion: Make it the summer of the highball.

Highballs feature a base spirit (alcoholic or nonalcoholic) combined with a larger portion of a carbonated beverage, and are meant to be served over ice in a tall, narrow glass (also called a highball). Any base spirit and any carbonated beverage, from club soda to ginger ale, or even cola, will do. More diluted than a standard cocktail, highballs are easy to drink, and don’t require a shaker to make.

Highballs are drinks you know — scotch and soda, rum and Coke, dark ’n’ stormy. The key is finding complementary components, whether you stick with the two-ingredient formula, or add extras to spice things up. It’s all about being light and refreshing.

A sonic is an easy cocktail to make at home, with equal measures of gin, sparkling water and premium tonic, and a garnish of three cucumber slices and a lemon twist. Courtesy of Hendrick's Gin

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“A highball is, next to the martini, the ultimate cocktail to highlight the finer and more subtle nuances of a spirit,” said Erik Andersson, Hendrick’s Gin East Coast ambassador.

He suggested using sparkling water to mellow the intensity of the tonic in a gin and tonic. For a sonic, Andersson mixes together 2 ounces each of gin, sparkling water and premium tonic in a highball glass, with ice. He garnishes it with a lemon twist and three cucumber slices.


8Arm. Whisky highballs are beloved and often served on draft in Japan. 8Arm’s new sushi lounge has a menu of rotating cocktails to complement the magic going on behind the counter with chefs Hiro Endo and Allen Suh. You can bet on the Octo Ball being a permanent fixture on the menu; the unaged, lightly malted Suntory Toki whisky and kombu soda have a freshness and vibrancy that match the food, and the vibe.

710 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta. 470-875-5856,

Haku, with vodka, lemon, sugar and soda, is one of the highballs Little Trouble makes with its Suntory import-only highball machine, which produces super bubbly soda. Courtesy of Caleb Wheelus

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Little Trouble. Japanese highballs have been served here since Little Trouble opened five years ago.

“We’re proud to own one of Suntory’s import-only highball machines, which produces soda so bubbly that it’s shattered bottles,” owner Caleb Wheelus said.

The menu usually includes two to four different highballs, ranging from the salaryman classic whiskey highball to the new All the Secrets, with vodka, elderflower, lavender, lemon and butterfly tea.

1170 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-500-4737,

Rumi’s Kitchen. To go with a Persian menu of richly flavored kabobs grilled over open flames, Rumi’s Kitchen serves a bright and zingy whiskey highball. For its Persian Sunset, fresh ginger is first muddled, then a hefty scoop of apricot jam and lime juice are added. It’s shaken with 10-year-old Eagle Rare bourbon, and topped with ginger beer.

Multiple locations.

A Low and Behold, from Miller Union, is a mixture of tequila, botanical bitters, orange and grapefruit soda. Courtesy of Miller Union

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Miller Union. This Westside spot brings together citrus and tequila in its super refreshing Low and Behold. It’s a perfect accompaniment to sultry nights on the patio. Served in a lanky, vividly hued glass, it includes the zippy citrus of grapefruit and orange as well as the vegetal flavors of tequila and botanical bitters.

999 Brady St. NW, Atlanta. 678-733-8550,

The Aperol spritz at Willow Bar is both bitter and sweet, with strawberry-infused Aperol, sparkling wine bubbles and soda. Courtesy of Andrew Thomas Lee

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Willow Bar at Kimpton Sylvan Hotel. Featuring a plant-based menu celebrating all the good things growing in the Southeast, Willow Bar also is a delightful spot to hoist a highball. Its Aperol spritz — both bitter and sweet — uses strawberry-infused Aperol, sparkling wine bubbles and soda. The garden bar, surrounded by lush landscaping and lit by the glow of lanterns, is nestled behind the hotel, with flagstone underfoot.

374 E. Paces Ferry Road NE, Atlanta. 877-984-6548,