The Story Behind The S&S Highball

Scotch and single malt whiskies are rarely mixed into cocktails due to their ultra-premium natures. Neither style comes cheap, so if either is mixed, it best be the star of the show.

The Scotch and soda is one of the most popular applications for these whiskies because it does just that, putting the whisky front and center for the imbiber to enjoy with a slight twist. This take is inspired by the classic, two-part Scotch and soda — adding a fino sherry for some salinity and balance. The dryness of the sherry is rounded out with a rosemary-grapefruit syrup, which also adds some herbal and citrus notes for complexity.

As the bubbles from the soda water tend to carry delicate aromas, a citrus twist garnish goes a long way. This template is easy to riff on, but these specific flavors lend themselves to the warmer weather.


  • 1 ½ ounces Scotch (or single malt) whisky
  • ½ ounce fino sherry (I used Tio Pepe)
  • ¼ ounce honey syrup (1:1 ratio of honey and warm water) or rosemary-grapefruit syrup (recipe follows)
  • Top with soda water, such as Q club soda


  1. Add ice to a Highball glass, then pour in the whisky, sherry, and syrup.
  2. Stir to chill ingredients, and top with more ice if needed.
  3. Top with soda water and lightly agitate with a bar spoon to integrate the bubbles.
  4. Garnish with a lemon or grapefruit twist.

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Yield: 1
Updated: 2020-10-28

Homemade rosemary-grapefruit syrup Ingredients

  • 2 cups cane sugar
  • 2 grapefruits (peeled)
  • ½ cup rosemary sprigs

Homemade rosemary-grapefruit syrup Directions

  1. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the grapefruit, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible.
  2. Combine sugar with the grapefruit zest and rosemary in a bowl. Toss to coat the peels and distribute them evenly through the sugar.
  3. Place the mixture in a vacuum bag (or ziplock) and seal the bag. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for up to 24 hours, or until the sugar is dissolved by the grapefruit oil.
  4. Strain the grapefruit oil into a container and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. (Note: can also add ½ cup boiling water to the mix before straining to increase yield.)
The S&S Highball Recipe