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So just to sum up, we’re saying that more than two ingredients aren’t necessary, but they have to be more than just a base liquor and soda or tonic (or water; for that matter)?

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I went to a local crafts fair today and scored 3 vintage coupe glasses for $9 total.  So we enjoyed a Twentieth Century in them in the backyard this afternoon. 1 1/2 oz. gin 3/4 oz. Lil

I need better supervision. 

When I go to bars like yours I spend so much time emphasizing that I want a detectable amount of Vermouth in my Martini that they’d never dare ask if I wanted it Dirty. 

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I agree that it can’t be dispositive whether the drink happens to have been served tall or short.  That’s usually just a function of what the maker happens to have on hand. A Burgondy doesn’t stop being a Burgundy if you don’t serve it in a Burgundy glass; and wine doesn’t turn into water when it’s served in a tumbler. 

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I think a highball also must be served on the rocks. And I don't think it's ever shaken, probably not stirred either, at least not by the preparer.

Or did we already decide that?

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On the rocks, yes, and in most cases the mixer is carbonated so you don’t want to agitate the drink. I think it’s also characteristic of a highball that the mixer is non-alcoholic.

 

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See, what I'm more interesting in isn't what makes a Highball a Highball, but what makes a Highball not-a-cocktail.

It can't be that it's served over ice, cuz lots of cocktails are served over ice.

It may be that, as @Wilfrid suggested a while ago, the division is a totally arbitrary tradition that defies explanation.

But I'm curious.

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I said that?

A highball is a shot of liquor with non-alcoholic fizz filling up the (short or tall) glass over rocks.

Maybe there are borderline cases, but the difference most if the time is surely obvious. 
 

 

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8 hours ago, Wilfrid said:

A highball is a shot of liquor with non-alcoholic fizz filling up the (short or tall) glass over rocks.

Does it have to be a fizzy thing filling up the glass over rocks? Like a vodka/oj, or vodka/cranberry isn't a highball?

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That’s just what I’m getting at.

Cuz if you think a Cape Codder is a Highball rather than a cocktail, why is a Gimlet a cocktail?

What do you think is the difference?  (All I’m saying is that being served over ice can’t be a differentiating factor, as it’s a characteristic both categories share.)

(I think a Cape Codder is a cocktail, FWIW.)

(Cuz while I don’t think being served over ice is a differentiating factor between Highballs and cocktails, I do think it’s a necessary characteristic of a Highball.)

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So, back to Wondrich again: it's apparent that a highball is simply a spirit, sparkling water, and ice. Anything else kinda moves it into cocktail territory.

Which means things like gin and tonic are cocktails, whereas gin and soda water is a highball. 

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That’s kind of what I thought to begin with.  Although I guess someone could argue if they wanted that tonic is akin to sparkling water (although I’d argue that the relevant distinguishing factor there is flavoring). (This would also move Fernet con Cocas back into the cocktail category, where it seems to me they belong.)

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39 minutes ago, Sneakeater said:

Wait a minute.   Quick research shows that G&Ts are considered Highballs. 

I'm gonna have to settle on Wondrich as being the final arbiter of this.

He even says that before Scotch and soda was called Scotch and soda, it was called a Scotch Highball.

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And...

https://bevvy.co/glassware/highball-glass

What is a Highball Glass?

The highball glass is a tall glass tumbler that is most commonly used for cocktails served on the rocks, often with a high ratio of non-alcoholic mixer to spirit. The name is derived from the classic Highball cocktail, which is a simple combination of scotch whisky and soda water.

However, "highball" is also a large and loosely-defined category of drinks. For some bartenders, a highball can only be a spirit (it doesn't have to be scotch) mixed with soda water, but for others it can include any cocktail served in a highball glass, like the Dark 'n Stormy, Mojito, Americano, Tom Collins, or Fernet and Coke.

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