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Is the Highball making a comeback?

Chatting to some friends last weekend, one told me she is trying to ‘get into’ whisky but she’s not used to drinking spirits and just finds it too confronting; “I end up putting heaps of water in it and I’m not sure I should do that”, she told me.

Firstly I said that any distiller is happy with whatever you put in the whisky as long as you are drinking it. The next thing I said is, “why not try a Highball? It’s a legitimate way to enjoy Scotch, you begin to understand a lot of the flavours that are in the spirit, but it’s not in your face and it’s a great drink to have in summer”.

It’s uncanny the amount of ‘drinks’ advice I find myself giving people every weekend.

Anyway, it appears I’m not the only one keen to champion the Highball this summer. Five well-regarded bars from Melbourne and Sydney have joined forces with Johnnie Walker in a new campaign that champions the Highball as a must-have serve.

Leading bartenders from Scout, Maybe Sammy, Icebergs, Bar Margaux and Capitano have used their creative flare to craft a bespoke Johnnie Walker Highball cocktail available on premise now:

  • Scout is bringing the ‘Papaya Don’t Preach’ to Surry Hills; a combination of Johnnie Walker Black Label with tea tree distillate, pluot soda and papaya cordial, served with papaya glass.
  • Maybe Sammy in Sydney’s CBD has designed the ‘Johnnie & Flamingo’, a flavoursome mix of Johnnie Walker Black Label, citric acid, Peychaud’s Bitter, coconut syrup and house made tropical soda served with a flamingo straw and a kaffir lime leaf.
  • Icebergs has created the ‘Walking on Thin Ice’ useing Johnnie Walker Black Label, bergamot syrup, verjus, pastis and soda garnished with frozen bergamot skin.
  • Newly opened Bar Margaux in Melbourne has created the ‘Tall, Dark and then Some’, a cocktail using Johnnie Walker Black Label, lemon juice, simple syrup, Pommeau de Normandie, Absinthe and soda served with a mortello cherry and a lemon slice.
  • Capitano in North Melbourne has crafted the ‘Leatherwood Highball’ using Johnnie Walker Black Label, leatherwood and barley cordial (leatherwood honey, barley tea, lactic acid, bergamot tincture), filtered water and saline solution with an orange slice.

Darren Leaney from Capitano said: “We’ve seen an increasing interest in the whisky Highball cocktail over the last few months, it’s the perfect drink for guests seeking depth of flavour, which a blended Scotch whisky like Johnnie Walker provides, whilst also being curious about ingredients and flavour profiles. We’re so excited to be working alongside some incredible bars in Australia to bring back the Highball and show prospective whisky drinkers what Johnnie Walker brings to the table.”

Johnnie Walker’s Highball revival campaign will take place over the next few months across on- and off-premise to showcase the new Highball collections and challenge perceptions of Scotch whisky. The campaign will aim to inspire, educate and ultimately recruit new Scotch and Johnnie Walker drinkers.

Melissa Maidment, Marketing Manager for Johnnie Walker, said: “It’s no secret that the classic gin and tonic has seen global popularity for a while now, but what we’re noticing of late is a real growing appetite for whisky Highball cocktails. Where previously whisky drinkers preferred drinking the dark spirit served neat or on ice, we’re now seeing a new breed of whisky explorers who are seeking a more creative and refreshing serve.

“Our new global campaign aims to inspire prospective and new whisky drinkers to try something new and discover the possibilities of blended Scotch Whisky. The cocktails designed by the venues are creative masterpieces in their own right, and we’re so excited to have brought together an ensemble of hospitality heavyweights to showcase the true potential of Johnnie Walker.”

Next year the brand plans to continue to work with trendsetting bars throughout Australia to build on existing activations. So the next time someone says to you “I don’t like Scotch” why not just hit them with a Highball?

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