You don’t need small-batch spirits, rare liqueurs or esoteric bitters to make a good cocktail. You don’t even need citrus or other fruits. Sometimes, simplicity is what’s required, and joining two ingredients is all it takes to create a delicious, well-balanced drink. Look at the Gin & Tonic. And then look at the Ginger Ale Highball, a ridiculously easy-to-make cooler combining rye whiskey and ginger ale.
The Ginger Ale Highball works because it pairs the spicy notes of rye whiskey with the spicy-sweet effervescence of ginger ale. The ingredients were made for each other (although, to be fair, there’s not a lot that whiskey couldn’t be paired with). And the result is a drink that’s refreshing and thirst-quenching with just the right amount of bite.
While the traditional choice for this cocktail is rye, bourbon or other American whiskeys can do the job. A high-rye Canadian whisky could also work in a pinch, but the key is to choose a spirit with enough oomph to announce its presence rather than be overpowered by the ginger.
Store-bought ginger ale is all you need to make this recipe. So, if you’ve got that, you’re set. But if you feel like putting in a little effort, you can always make your own ginger simple syrup and top the drink with sparkling water for a similar effect. Or if you want to increase the spice quotient, you can also try making DIY ginger beer—it’s just ginger, water and sugar, plus a little lime juice—but this will create a slightly different tasting version than the classic.
The whole point of drinking a two-ingredient cocktail is that you don’t have to think about it. So, when in doubt, don’t try too hard. Pour some whiskey and ginger ale into a glass with ice, find a comfortable chair and sip slowly as you watch the world go by.
1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey
Ginger ale, to top
Fill a highball glass with ice, then add the rye whiskey.
Top with the ginger ale, and stir gently.