Highballs and other sparkling cocktails to temper the summer heat

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Peach Fuzz Fizz

From left to right, a Peach Fuzz Fizz, a Campari and Soda and a Gin and Soda.  (Photos by Rey Lopez for The Washington Post; food styling by Nicola Justine Davis for The Washington Post)
From left to right, a Peach Fuzz Fizz, a Campari and Soda and a Gin and Soda. (Photos by Rey Lopez for The Washington Post; food styling by Nicola Justine Davis for The Washington Post)


At my elbow right now is an icon of summer.

It’s not a beach or a bikini or a bottle of sunscreen.

It’s a gin and tonic, and like me, it sweats.

But it’s so much more tempting in its perspiration: Condensation on the tall glass turns into long clear streams that sparkle lime bursts within. When he first stepped outside to join me on our front porch, his frothy crown was still hissing audibly from freshly poured tonic – up close you could see the tiny bubbles launching, arching in the drink, the effervescence lifting the aromatics of juniper, lime and sweet and sour tonic towards my nose. Hummingbirds come to dip their long beaks into our feeders, watching me every once in a while to make sure I’m not going to pounce and steal their ambrosia.

I’m not. I’m happy with mine. And it’s always that time of year that I want that particular bubbly refreshment – perhaps the most famous of the bubbly family, a sprawling, bubbly team that starts with the simple highballs (everything from Campari and soda to the Dark and Stormy to the Cuba Libre to the Americano), and branches off into more elaborate fizz and booze delivery systems, including rickey, Collins and, of course, frothy fizz.

If you take nothing else out of this story, remember that a highball is a long spirit with a fizzy, non-alcoholic mixer, and usually the mixer will be at least double the amount of alcohol – a civilized drink, relatively low in ABV.

Make this cocktail: Cuba Libre

A highball is not simply “a drink served in a tall glass”. I mention this because I’ve seen references to Long Island iced tea (vodka, tequila, rum, gin, and triple sec mixed with lemon and syrup, topped with a cola particle) as a highball. If you’re really flexible, I guess you could try stretching?

If you fill a 12 ounce highball glass with a martini, you don’t have a highball. You have a migraine.

How to make Ranch Water, the tequila-lime cocktail that keeps so many Texans cool

But I digress. And to be fair, there’s a slight masochism involved in our enjoyment of all soft drinks: those bubbles trigger the same pain receptors as spicy foods. And yet, in the same way, many of us love them – even outside the context of cocktails, I frequently take a sip of soda in the late afternoon, partly for the little caffeine wake-up call. , but mainly because I know that a long swallow of a carbonated drink will irritate my throat and make my eyes watery, and suddenly they will be less tired. Sure, it hurts, but it’s a real boost after hours of Zoom calls.

At this scorching time of year, there’s also the cooling factor: colder drinks retain carbonation better than hot drinks, and both carbonated and cold drinks have been shown to be more thirst-quenching. Really, the last thing most people want when the outdoors is set to “BROIL” is a good shot of hard liquor, a diuretic when you least need it.

Make this cocktail: Campari and Soda

You won’t find such seasonal agonies here. For your summer needs, we’ve lined up a sort of fizzy evolution of seltzer drink options – from highball to fizz – ideal for multiple summer sips, and adaptable to your particular tastes and energy levels, each just a step or ingredient from the last one.

How involved do you want to be in decorating your drink tonight?

Start with gin and soda or seltzer water for a basic gin highball. Juice and add half a citrus fruit and you’ve turned those ingredients into a rickey. Does that sound a little too sour? Add simple syrup and you have a Tom Collins which, at around 150 years old, is one of the most refreshing drinks on the planet. Want your bubbles in more than one form – not just the carbonation of seltzer that rubs the palate, but a soft foam filling like a meringue? The same ingredients shaken up with egg white takes you into gin fizz territory, and you can even kick this version up a notch with a little summer peach boost, giving you the Peach Fuzz Fizz – or go even more baroque to reach the Ramos Gin Fizz, the snowy white Everest of shaken fizz.

It’s just like that old drawing of human evolution, only in drink form, and the Homo sapiens at the end of our painting is wearing a little peach-scented frilly hat.

Scale and get nutritional information and a printable version of the recipe here.

This easy drink is a G&T substitute for those who might not like the bitter quinine in tonic water or like the simple refreshing bubble of ranch water. Pick a gin you like, use some good cold ice, and top it with a citrus wedge of your choice.

  • Ice
  • 2 ounces of gin
  • 4 ounces chilled club soda or seltzer
  • Citrus wedge or wheel, for garnish

Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Add the gin and top up with club soda or seltzer water. Give it a squeeze of citrus, then swipe the citrus into the drink (to further flavor it as you sip) and serve.

From Spirits columnist M. Carrie Allan.

Scale and get nutritional information and a printable version of the recipe here.

An enduring classic, perfect for summer sipping, the Tom Collins was – according to beverage historian David Wondrich – an evolution of the gin punch made by bartender John Collin in London in the 1800s. Traditionally, this was made with Old Tom Gin (a milder style, and probably partly where its name is derived from), but a good dry London works just fine. While some recipes call for first shaking all the ingredients except the sparkling water, this is not necessary. Building it in the glass makes it even easier.

Get ahead: The simple syrup must be prepared and refrigerated at least 1 hour in advance.

  • Ice
  • 2 ounces of gin
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 ounces chilled club soda or seltzer, for garnish
  • Lemon wedge, for garnish

Fill a Collins glass with ice, then add the gin, syrup and lemon juice. Stir to mix well, about 15 seconds. Top up with club soda or seltzer water, then stir gently again. Decorate with the lemon wedge and serve.

From Spirits columnist M. Carrie Allan.

The classic gin fizz is at the simpler end of the fizz class; the Peach Fuzz Fizz is a slightly more baroque approach. The most important technique for the fizz is a full shake – you really want to give it time to create the smooth, creamy head the drink is known for. Traditionally, sparkling wines were served without ice cubes in the glass, intended to be consumed quickly. If you plan to prepare the drink in advance and drink it a little later, you can put a few ice cubes in the glass.

Scale and get a printable version of the recipe here.

Get ahead: The simple syrup must be prepared and refrigerated at least 1 hour in advance.

Or buy: Peach nectar can be found in well-stocked supermarkets.

  • Ice
  • 1 1/2 ounces of gin
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce egg white (can be replaced with aquafaba)
  • 1/2 ounce peach liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce peach nectar
  • 2 dashes peach bitters (optional)
  • 2 to 3 ounces chilled club soda or seltzer for top

Chill a highball glass and add a few ice cubes, if desired (see main note).

In a shaker, combine the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, peach liqueur, peach nectar and bitters, if using, and shake vigorously until the liquid is well mixed with the egg white and the mixture is pale and frothy. , about 1 min. Add 5-6 ice cubes to the shaker and shake again until well chilled. Strain twice into the highball glass. Stick a straw in the center of the froth and pour the seltzer water down the straw into the glass, until the frothy head reaches or just above the rim of the glass. Serve with straw.

VARIATION: To make gin fizz, a simpler version of the above, in a shaker, combine 1 1/2 ounces gin, 1 ounce fresh lemon juice, 1 ounce simple syrup and 1/2 ounce white d egg or aquafaba and follow the above methods, including adding ice and seltzer water.

Gin Fizz adapted from Jerry Thomas’ bartenders guide; Peach Fuzz Fizz by Spirits columnist M. Carrie Allan.

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