The Best Cocktails For Hot Weather: Highballs

May 13, 2018

Summer is so close we can taste it! Some parts of the country are feeling the heat a bit more than others, but even here in our home base of Seattle, we are finally putting the sweaters away (during the day, at least). While we here at Distiller love our distilled spirits as they are, we don’t always sip them neat, particularly when the temperature rises. So where do we turn when the temperature spikes? To cocktails! Highballs, specifically. That means Mules, Bucks, Collins, Rickeys and many more.

Highballs are gloriously easy to build as you don’t even need a cocktail shaker (or even a jigger, really) to make them. One thing to note is that lemon juice tends to work best with brandy and whisk(e)y while lime is best with rum and tequila. Gin, however, can go both ways. Have fun and remember, these are great building blocks that can lead to great variations.



These long drinks involve spirit + lemon or lime juice + ginger ale (buck) or ginger beer (mule). The King Daddy of them all, in recent years, has been the Moscow Mule. (vodka + ginger beer + lime juice). However, you can mix and match to your heart’s desire. Here are a couple I’ll be making this summer.

A Horse’s Neck Cocktail
This can be made with whiskey or brandy. The name comes from the use of entire lemon peel which spirals the inside of the glass which makes for a striking garnish.

– 2 oz whiskey or brandy (try Laird’s Straight Applejack 86)
– 6 oz ginger ale
– one whole lemon peel, spiral cut

Into the spiral lemon-peel filled glass add crushed ice. Pour the brandy and top with ginger ale. Add a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters if you like. Gently stir.

Highballs: Horse's NeckHorse’s Neck

Chilcano de Pisco
For something a little different, I’d suggest the Chilcano, a Peruvian pisco buck variation:

– 2 oz of pisco (try Macchu Pisco)
– 3 oz ginger ale
– ½ oz lime juice
– Couple of dashes of bitters.

Pour all ingredients into a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Gently stir and enjoy.


Rickeys are simply a cocktail made with spirit + lime juice + club soda with no (or little) sugar.

Gin is most commonly used, but don’t overlook tequila (or whiskey for that matter). This is what I’ll be making for folks that ask for a “skinny margarita”. They really want a Rickey, they just don’t know it yet.

Gin Rickey
– 2 oz gin (try Hayman’s London Dry)
– half a lime
– club soda

Tequila Rickey
– 2 oz tequila (try Pasote Tequila Blanco)
– half a lime
– club Soda

Squeeze half a lime and drop the empty lime shell in the ice-filled glass. Add your spirit of choice and top with club soda. Done and done.

HighballsJohn Collins


Spirit + sugar + lemon juice + club soda.

Yeah, so this is basically boozy, fizzy lemonade (or limeade, if you want to make a rum or tequila version). And anyone that can’t get behind that should just turn in their tastebuds. Most common is the gin version (and would be called a Tom Collins), but using whiskey would create a John Collins.

Tom Collins
– 2 oz gin (try an Old Tom like Tanqueray’s Old Tom)
– 1/4 oz to 1/2 oz simple syrup (less sugar if you use an Old Tom)
– 1/2 oz lemon juice
– club soda

John Collins
– 2 oz whiskey (try Larceny Bourbon)
– ½ oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar + water)
– ½ oz lemon juice
– club soda

Pour first three ingredients into ice-filled Highball glass. Top with club soda, gently stir.


La Paloma
Mentioned in our Cinco de Mayo piece, but we’ll mention it again (because it’s great!). This is a slight variation on the Collins.

– 3 oz blanco tequila (try Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila)
– 3 oz grapefruit soda
– ½ oz of lime juice

Pour all into an ice-filled Highball or Collins glass. I like to rim mine with Tajín seasoning or add a pinch of salt to the glass. If you use fresh grapefruit juice, add ½ tsp agave syrup, stir, and top with club soda.

Highballs: La PalomaLa Paloma

Dark n’ Stormy
This is one of the only cocktails with a trademark (see also the Painkiller cocktail). This can only officially be made with Gosling’s Rum. Of course, you can make them with other dark rums, but we won’t be calling them Dark n’ Stormy cocktails! You may add lime juice if you prefer, and if you did, you’d be making a Mule.

– 2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
– 5 oz ginger beer
– Lime juice (optional)

Pour ingredients into an ice-filled Highball glass. Serve with a lime garnish.

Highballs: Dark N' StormyDark n’ Stormy / Photo Courtesy of Gosling’s

Two more for good measure

This is one of the few drinks that calls for scotch and actually tastes good (sorry, Blood and Sand.) Try to stick with a blended scotch, but if you want to use a single malt, I ain’t gonna be mad at ya.

– 2 oz scotch (try Compass Box Great King St. Glasgow)
– 4 oz ginger ale

Pour scotch into ice-filled Highball glass. Top with ginger ale. Drink. Repeat.

Cuba Libre
You may turn your nose up at this when you realize that it is a rum and Coke, but it’s the lime juice that really makes a difference here. I’ll use Mexican Coke (which uses real sugar and not corn syrup) and a lightly aged or dark rum to match the intensity of the Coke.

– 2 oz rum (Havana Club Añejo Clasico)
– Mexican Coke
– 1 lime

Squeeze the entire lime into an ice-filled Highball. Pour rum and top with Coke. Gently stir.

Ready to make your own highballs?

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