The Jim Beam® Highball hits a high note as a refreshing, low ABV and calorie option for summer sippers
By Joe Daily
Photos by Andrea Hutchinson
Welcome everyone and thank you for following us here at Daily Libations! This month, I am joined by my good friend and the Jim Beam American Whiskey Ambassador, Beth Burrows, to discuss the perfect Highball cocktail. The Highball for me is the ideal cocktail. It’s easy to produce and, when created correctly, it makes for a simple, fantastic and refreshing summer sipper. Did I mention it was low calorie and low ABV? Below we are going to leap in and learn a little more about these tasty libations!
Joe: Beth, tell me about your role and how you landed such a fun and intriguing job?
Beth: I am the Jim Beam American Whiskey Ambassador, right here in the backyard of bourbon! It’s been a long journey to get here, but much of my background is in hospitality. If we take it all the way back, I was bussing tables and sorting recycling in my parents’ restaurant at the age of seven. But more recently, I spent a lot of time behind the stick in Louisville. As you know, I am a whiskey and cocktail nerd, so through my time in mixology competitions, behind the stick as a bartender and bar manager, and eventually as the general manager of a Whiskey Row bourbon bar, I made great connections with wonderful people. Eventually, all the stars aligned in 2016 when I took on this dream role.
Joe: So, there has been a lot of buzz around the Jim Beam® Highball cocktail I would like to discuss to enlighten our readers on this tasty libation. What’s with the scoop on this elevated Highball cocktail?
Beth: The Highball from yesteryear was a pretty plain whiskey and soda. The warm whiskey poured over the rocks, melting them as it cascaded to the bottom of a glass. Your soda usually came from a soda gun, which can be inconsistent and may not be as highly carbonated as one would hope. But now, the Highball cocktail is back and better than ever! Paying close attention to the chill, dilution and carbonation, the Jim Beam® Highball is built differently. Whether it is coming from one of our amazing Highball machines, or even a handmade Highball, we ensure that our whiskey is chilled, the ice is premium and the carbonation is as bubbly as possible. We also suggest that it be served in a Highball glass. Tall and slender, the Highball glass keeps the drink colder and preserves carbonation better. All these factors add up to an incredibly refreshing, delicious sipper: the elevated Highball!
Joe: When should I be drinking Highballs?
Beth: In the heat of the summer months, it should be imbibers go-to sipper! Highballs are meant to refresh you and bring people together. So, sipping them on patios, by the pool, watching sporting events or at any gathering with your friends is highly encouraged.
Joe: Is there an entrée or style of dish that you feel pairs best with the Highball cocktail? In my experience, we have excellent range.
Beth: I think it is a lot of fun to pair it with local favorites. With the Highball Roadshow going on tour this summer, we will see the Jim Beam® Highball traveling the East Coast and pairing with crab cakes, croquettes, fried chicken, BBQ and a whole lot of other regional fare. I suggest trying a Highball with your favorite bites and seeing what you like best. The proper Highball Formation is a Highball in one hand and your favorite bites in the other, so like Booker used to say about his whiskies, I think you should Highball Formation “any damn way you please!”
Joe: I have been hearing lower ABV is really trending right now. Do you think this is because of brunch and patrons just drinking earlier? Or longer?
Beth: I’m sure that has a little to do with it. I think we can attribute the surge of lower ABV sipping to a few things. There is a trend in consumption moderation where folks are searching for balance in their lives and diets and I think they are finding that sipping low ABV allows for them to enjoy alcohol, but in moderation. I also think that the availability of lower ABV options on the menu helps with their popularity. Bars are cultivating their experience around a diverse menu of options, allowing people to sip however suits them best without having to “order off menu.”
Joe: As we are coming out of the pandemic. I have noticed that immunity and drinking lower calorie options are really pushing their way forward. I think Highballs fall directly into this category as a low calorie option. What are your thoughts?
Beth: I think they fit perfectly in the lower calorie space. Whiskey in and of itself is rather low in calories to begin with. It is generally less than 100 calories per 1.5 part pour. For the Highball, you are taking that whiskey and adding soda water, which is a common choice for a low calorie, non-alcoholic beverage. That’s a match made in low calorie heaven!
Joe: In terms of Highballs from, let’s say, the 1980s, how do you compare the old school plus one cocktail to today’s Highball?
Beth: This is not your Grandad’s Highball. It is the ubiquitous Highball, perfected abroad and bringing its expert execution to the US.
Joe: Tell me about this new Highball machine Beam Suntory created. It’s such an amazing piece of equipment.
Beth: The Jim Beam® Highball machine takes those perfect Highball factors we chatted about earlier and brings them into one amazing machine. The whiskey is chilled, helping keep dilution to a minimum. The bubbles of carbonation that are produced from the machine rival those in champagne. Together, these help craft the most refreshing Highball, poured directly from one spout in a very sessionable ration of one part whiskey to four parts soda water.
Joe: Let’s talk about ice. I get super excited about ice and I figured if we are discussing new school Highballs, we can really highlight ice. Why is ice so important to the Highball cocktail?
Beth: Good ice is important in all cocktails. You and I are super spoiled because we have amazing craft ice at our fingertips here in the city – shoutout to Rich Finck & KY Straight Ice! Great ice is incredibly important in the Highball cocktail as it helps us attain that perfect combination we have been speaking about. Slow and even melting allows for the cocktail to maintain its chill without quickly diluting down while keeping it refreshing and delicious to the last sip!
Joe: Fantastic info, Beth! Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule and sitting down with us to discuss Highballs. As always readers, until next month!
If you drink it, I study it.