16 Easier and Lighter Cocktails

Introducing the Highball — a versatile classic that’s long, lean and easily reinvented. Preparing a lighter, lower-alcohol cocktail is as easy as choosing a spirit to pour over ice, topping with a thoughtful mixer and complementing with a garnish.

Lower-Alcohol Whisky Highballs

" "

Rye N' Bucha Twist

Place 2 ice cubes in a chilled Highball glass. Add 1½ oz rye, ¼ oz strained fresh lemon juice and ¼ oz pure maple syrup. Stir for 15 seconds. Fill glass with ice. Top with 4½ oz Rise ginger kombucha, pouring slowly. Lightly stir. Garnish with a long, thin lemon twist.

Makes 1 cocktail

TIP Since kombucha varies in sweetness and acidity from brand to brand, if you don’t use Rise you may need to adjust the maple syrup.

" "

Whisky & Mint Spritz

Add 3 mint sprigs to a Collins or highball glass. Pour in  1 oz Irish whiskey. Muddle. Pour in ½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice. Top with 6 to 8 oz sparkling or soda water. Garnish with more mint sprigs.

Makes 1 cocktail

" "

" "

Citrus & Whisky Highball

Add 1 oz whisky, such as Scotch or Canadian whisky, and 2 dashes Angostura bitters to a highball glass filled with large ice cubes or spheres. Top with 4 to 6 oz soda water. Stir to mix. Add 2 orange wheels, such as blood orange or Cara Cara (preferably dehydrated). Garnish with thyme sprig.
 
Makes 1 cocktail

" "

Winter Garden Highball

Pour 1 oz flavoured whisky, such as apple, maple or vanilla, into a large highball glass filled with ice. Top with 4 to 5 oz sparkling or soda water. Add 1 oz beet juice and 1 whole star anise. Stir to mix. Garnish with rosemary sprig or ginger ribbon.


Makes 1 cocktail

" "

New-Style Julep

Pour 1 oz Bourbon whisky into a large highball glass filled with crushed ice. Top with 6 to 8 oz chilled brewed mint tea. Top with soda water. Garnish with mint sprig and lemon slice.


Makes 1 cocktail



Lower Alcohol Highballs

" "

Kahlúa Americano Cooler

Pour ¾ oz Kahlúa and ½ oz lemon juice into an ice-filled Collins or highball glass. Pour in 6 oz brewed coffee, chilled. Top with 2 to 4 oz sparkling or soda water. Garnish with lemon twist and freshly grated nutmeg.

Makes 1 cocktail

" "

Lemon-Basil Vodka Soda

Squeeze 1 oz juice from lemon and add to a rocks glass filled with ice. Tear 2 basil leaves in half and add to glass. Pour in 1 oz vodka. Top with 4 to 5 oz sparkling water or club soda. Stir to mix. Garnish with a basil leaf.

Makes 1 cocktail

" "

Mule-Style Fireball Highball

Add 1 oz Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and ¾ oz lime juice juice to an ice-filled Collins or highball glass. Top with 4 oz ginger beer, preferably light and 2 to 4 oz sparkling or soda water. Stir to mix. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Makes 1 cocktail

" "

Gibson’s & Juice

Add 1 oz whisky to a highball glass filled with ice. Top with 5 oz fresh pear juice. Garnish with pear slice.


Makes 1 cocktail

Grant’s & Ginger Highball

Add 1 oz whisky to a highball glass filled with ice. Top with 5 oz soda water. Garnish with fresh ginger slice.


Makes 1 cocktail

" "

Gin & Sonic

Add 1 oz gin to a highball glass filled with ice. Top with a mix of tonic and soda water. (Or make a classic Gin & Tonic using light tonic water.) Garnish with cucumber slices and fresh rosemary.

Makes 1 cocktail

" "

Ruby Red & Tequila Highball

Add 1 oz tequila to a highball glass filled with ice. Top with freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice and sparkling or soda water. Garnish with grapefruit slice and mint sprig.

Makes 1 cocktail

" "

Flavoured Vodka & Soda

Add 1 oz flavoured vodka to a highball glass filled with ice. Top with 5 oz soda water. Garnish with lemon or lime slice.

Makes 1 cocktail



Lighter Cocktails

" "

Moroccan Spritz

Fill a tall glass with ice. Add 1 to 1½ oz Ketel One Botanical Vodka and 2 dashes Bittered Sling Lem-Marrakech bitters. Top with 4 oz soda water. Stir to mix. Garnish with lemon slices and cilantro sprig.


Makes 1 cocktail

" "

Green Tea Fizz

Add 1 green tea bag to a Collins or highball glass. Pour 1½ oz vodka overtop. Let steep for 2 minutes. Remove tea bag. Fill glass with ice. Pour in 1 oz lime juice and top with 6 to 8 oz sparkling or soda water. Stir. Garnish with a lemongrass stalk or mint sprig and cucumber ribbon or wheel.

Makes 1 cocktail

" "

Infusion Fizz

Add 1 to 1½ oz Smirnoff Infusions Vodka, such as Smirnoff Infusions Strawberry Rose, to a highball glass filled with ice. Top with soda water. Get creative with garnishes. For instance, roll up a cucumber ribbon and fasten with a skewer. Or keep it simple by choosing a whole strawberry or watermelon slice. Add to cocktail along with fresh basil or mint.


Makes 1 cocktail



Tips for Lighter Cocktails

" "

Spritz it, salt it

With a little creativity, you can cut back on the level of sweetness in a cocktail. Try reducing syrup or sugar and adding a splash of club soda. Then boost the flavour with a variety of ingredients such as a smack of a mint sprig, a squeeze of lime or a twist of orange or lemon. Even the tiniest pinch of salt can intensify a cocktail’s taste and still appease sweet-tooths. A Tom Collins is an excellent option for this.

" "

Downsize 

Opt for classic-sized cocktails over pint-sized loosely poured drinks. Large, calorie-laden cocktails can sometimes go down far too quickly. Instead, we suggest preparing and sipping on drinks that are carefully measured so you’re not indulging in more than you realize.

" "

Dilute it

Some classic cocktail choices allow you to indulge while avoiding the added sugar found in more elaborate creative cocktail recipes. You can even try lengthening them with a splash of soda or distilled water — this can unlock a spirit’s subtle flavours.