The Rise of the Whisky Highball

Australia’s hottest bars join forces with Johnnie Walker to champion the cocktail that keeps on rising

A recent trade survey of bar owners, cocktail enthusiasts, bartenders and spirit experts conducted by Sweet & Chilli (Drinks Consultancy Company), has revealed that the whisky highball is the big trend in drinks. Tall and cool, the Highball reflects Aussies’ increased appetite for longer drinks with a lower ABV.


Diageo Whisky ambassador Katie Nagar said: “Scotch highballs are experiencing huge resurgence at present, and for good reason. It’s a simple and tasty drink that showcases the quality of Scotch whisky”.


“Blended whisky highballs in particular are becoming increasingly popular due to their variety of flavours and versatility – for example Johnnie Walker has 29 active distilleries and roughly 11 million casks of whisky from which to make our blends. This diversity of flavour means there will always be a variant perfectly suited to bring each highball serve to life, no matter the drinker’s flavour preference nor which ingredients or flavours the drink is featuring.”


“Research also shows that lower ABV drinks are becoming increasingly popular internationally. The highball is perfectly positioned within this global trend as it usually contains only one measure of spirit, meaning you can enjoy a lighter style drink that still offers amazing flavour”.


Proving the classic drink has evolved into a cocktail that is much more than the sum of its parts, Johnnie Walker has teamed up with five of the hottest and most revered bars in Sydney and Melbourne – Scout, Maybe Sammy (recently named in the World’s 50 Best Bars), Icebergs, Bar Margaux and Capitano – to create some of the best Whisky Highballs in town. The bright and bold serves are available to order from each respective bar until mid-November. 

Scout's Papaya don't Preach

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.
o Address: The Dolphin Hotel, Level 2/412 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
o Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 5pm–12am

o Price: $21

Maybe Sammy's Johnnie & Flamingo


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.
o Address: 115 Harrington St, The Rocks NSW 2000
o Opening Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 4.30pm–1am, Friday 12pm–1am, Saturday 4.30pm–12am

o Price: $15 or those who order between 4.30pm–6.30pm on weekdays can enjoy a Johnnie & Flamingo with a Smoking Gun Bagel for $20

Iceberg's Walking on Thin Ice

Icebergs has created the ‘Walking on Thin Ice’ – Johnnie Walker Black Label, bergamot syrup, verjus, pastis and soda garnished with frozen bergamot skin.
o Address: 1 Notts Ave, Bondi Beach NSW 2026
o Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 12pm–12am, Sunday 10am–10pm

o Price: $20 or those who order a Walking on Thin Ice with a Raw Seafood Cracker can enjoy both for $24

Bar Margaux's Tall, Dark and then Some

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 morello cherry and a lemon slice.
o Address: Basement/111 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000
o Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday 4pm–3am, Friday to Saturday 4pm–5am

o Price: $20 or order a Tall, Dark & Then Some during Golden Hour 4pm–6pm and enjoy the cocktail served with Panisse for $20

Capitano's Leatherwood Highball

Capitano in North Melbourne has crafted the ‘Leatherwood Highball’ using Johnnie Walker Black Label, leatherwood and barley cordial and filtered water with an orange slice.
o Address: 421 Rathdowne St, Carlton VIC 3053
o Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 5.30–10pm, Friday 5.30–11pm, Saturday 3pm–11pm, Sunday 12pm–10pm

o Price: $18 or those who order between 5.30pm–6.30pm on weekdays can enjoy the Leatherwood Highball with a classic cheese or tomato pizza for $30


The Highball was popularised in the U.S. in the early 20th century, but it was actually born in the UK during the late 19th century when carbonated water was readily available. The upper classes found something exciting to mix with their brandy, and Scotch became the most popular way to drink a highball – the Scotch and Soda was born.


The term ‘Highball’ appears to have emerged during the 1890s and is variously attributed to different origins. English actor E.J. Ratcliffe is credited with ordering the first Scotch and Soda in New York City in 1895. In a small café near the Lyceum Theatre he asked the owner, Patrick Gavin Duffy for one. He didn’t have Scotch, but the increase in English actors frequenting his bar led him to buy five cases, which sold out quickly, and after this he sold nothing but Highballs – and the rest is history.


Those seeking more information about Johnnie Walker Highballs can follow @JohnnieWalker.