Whisky Chrysanthemum Highball
A floral take on the classic highball cocktail that is great for summer and Chinese New Year celebrations
For any whisky drinker, the highball is a classic. Traditionally consisting of whisky and soda, the Japanese have even elevated the preparation of said drink into an art form. It’s simple, it’s refreshing and it’s very very drinkable, especially in summer or if you live in tropical climates. The term highball is also a reference for a class of drinks that combines one base spirit with a majority part of non-alcoholic mixer. In homage to the Chinese New Year, we’ve made a whisky highball using chrysanthemum tea as the non-alcoholic mixer. You can get dried chrysanthemum flowers from most Asian grocery stores and make a tea with it in the same way as you would make say, tea with chamomile flowers, rose buds or butterfly pea flowers. You could drink the tea on its own or in this case, we’ve sweetened it with honey, although not overly, as you still want that slightly tannic kick from the tea to come through. In theory, you could also use those ready mixed chrysanthemum tea in drink packets, but some of them are already sweetened and with quite a lot of sugar, so be aware.
For the whisky, we’ve gone with the Chivas Regal 12 year old. The Chivas brand is a well known label amongst the Chinese community, and it’s a solid reliable number - years after not having touched it, we rediscovered it again last year. It’s creamy and has a delicate sweetness to it that is underpinned by a fruity and floral perfume, which plays well with the chrysanthemum tea.
This drink is also easy to make in a batch if you’re hosting a party and honestly, you can dial up or dial down the whisky depending on your guests’ taste. Simply multiply the proportions in the recipe below and make it in a jug without the ice. When guests arrive, fill individual glasses with ice before you pour the cocktail in.
How the make the Whisky Chrysanthemum Highball
Ingredients (for one individual serve)
45ml Chivas Regal
90ml sweetened chrysanthemum tea*
*For the tea, take a handful of flowers (about a cup) and infuse it in about 4 cups of hot water. We just used a coffee plunger (see below). Let sit for half an hour to infuse. Sweeten with 2 tsp honey (you can increase it to taste if you prefer a sweeter tea)
Fill a glass with ice (ideally, go for as big an ice cube you can manage)
Pour whisky in and stir
Top up with the tea and stir to mix evenly