If you treat whisk(e)y like a religion, a classic Presbyterian is just the cocktail for you. And it’s one that comes with plenty of room for interpretation—iconic cocktail bar Death & Co outlines the Presbyterian’s possibilities in “Cocktail Codex,” a comprehensive book on the fundamentals of bartending.
An excerpt from the tome, penned by Death & Co owners Alex Day and David Kaplan, alongside writer Nick Fauchald, explains the cocktail in succinct terms: “The classic Presbyterian is similar to the Moscow Mule and the Dark and Stormy, being simply spirit combined with ginger ale.” While the Death & Co specs include rye, soda, ginger syrup and fresh lemon and lime juice, Liquor.com’s is a more simplified version that allows its drinker the choice between Scotch whisky, bourbon or rye, which is then topped with both ginger ale and club soda.
Using this recipe, one could also liken the Presbyterian to a highball with an added layer of ginger. Whichever way you look at it, there are a few tricks to making the most of your drink, from ice to straw and everything in between.
On the subject of ice, there’s a lot more to it than one might think. In the case of the Presbyterian, you’ll want to use a tall, cylindrical highball or Collins glass and a spear-shaped block of ice, which will dilute more slowly than multiple smaller cubes. You will also want to use high-quality sodas, such as Thomas Henry, Q Mixers or Fever Tree, as well as, optimally, a reusable straw for the environment’s sake. If you choose to garnish your Presbyterian, citrus would be a great option. Whether you use the zest or slice a few wheels or wedges, the aromatics can help lift the drink’s aromas and flavor profile.
2 ounces scotch, bourbon or rye
2 to 3 ounces ginger ale, chilled, to top
2 to 3 ounces club soda, chilled, to top
Add the scotch into a highball or Collins glass over ice.
Top with equal amounts of ginger ale and soda.