THE HIGH BALL
parents entertained frequently as I was growing up in the 60's. On many
a Saturday night, I was put to bed early while my father and mother
hosted festive soirées for the gang from The Presentation BVM
Parish Society. These were not the composed and level-headed
"cake and coffee" socials of friends well met through their church
congregation. No, these were Roman Catholics who appreciated
gospel stories where the operative metaphor was the miraculous
transformation of water into wine. These Faithful accepted as Divine
Revelation that Jesus himself enjoyed a party, savored the spirit of
the grape and even knew, but did not always hold to the etiquette of
when during a celebration to serve the finest vintage. In other
words, The Presentation BVM Parish Society partied at my parents'
humble home in Northeast Philadelphia with a generous flow of love in
their hearts and the holy distillation of God's own harvest in
their cocktail glasses. For a while, as any kid would I fussed about
my banishment from the living room and our lone TV. But, I
soon discovered that from my stealthy, spy perch at the top of the
steps I could secretly bask in the adult exultation downstairs. I also
learned that the most popular drink
by far which was raised in the countless toasts proposed was the
. . . at least it was at my parents' Kennedy-era
ESQUIRE MAGAZINE'S 1949 HANDBOOK
HOSTS claimed that the Highball was invented back in 1890
or so by Patrick Gavin Duffy, the bartender at Manhattan's Ashland
House on Fourth Avenue at Twenty-fourth Street. At that time, the word,
slang for a "drink of whiskey" and high
meant "served in a tall glass." This is all speculation of course, but
it could account for how the simple cocktail got its name. The Highball
created during a period of American beverage history when bar patrons
were looking for a way to enjoy the favors of whiskey without belting
it down in one "knuckle dusting slug." They wanted to sip a tall,
harder drink while they socialized in much the same way they used beer
The Highball is simple, but is not
without its requisites.
You will need a
tall, narrow glass of at least a 12 ounce capacity. The narrow glass
better preserves the bubbles.
Put some full sized ice cubes into the glass, a few are plenty.
Do not fill the glass with ice as one does
with some cocktails.
Next, pour in 2 ounces of American Rye
Whiskey - My parents used
- cheap, but not bad for the purpose. They went through quite a
supply on a Saturday night. I
have found that Canadian Whiskey also makes an excellent, if slightly
Finally 4 to 6 ounces of Canada Dry Ginger Ale are added according to
your taste. You can, of course, use other brands of ginger ale, but, in
with lesser results.
The bubbles take care of the mixing. The Highball should not be shaken,
stirred, nor even served with a swizzle stick because any kind of
manual agitation "squelches" the bubbles. Neither should the glass be garnished with
fruit or herbs of any sort.