In the world of drinks, trends are ever-evolving. One minute, mezcal is the hot new thing, the next everyone is drinking Espresso Martinis. There is one trending drink, however, that has been quietly, steadily growing in fashion – and that is the highball. It’s a simple, elegant combination of a spirit and mixer, and the usual proportions are one part spirit to three parts mixer.
When the majority of a highball consists of the soft drink element, it is of the utmost importance to use a quality product that helps enhance and complement the characteristics of the spirits in question. To assist us in this important quest, a wave of soft drink brands have launched, bringing new ideas and approaches to this exciting category. Among them is Double Dutch, which burst onto the scene in 2015.
Founders Joyce and Raissa de Haas say that they created Double Dutch to break out of the confines of traditional tonic and soda mixers. With the strapline ‘never drink dull’, it’s clear that this company is on a mission to create new and unusual flavour combinations, from its subtle, refreshing Cucumber and Watermelon soda water to the gently fruity, not-so-bitter Cranberry and Ginger tonic water. Using natural ingredients and low sugar in their drinks, flavours are nuanced and complex, resulting in an exciting drinking proposition. When it comes to mixing, this range isn’t designed to be placed in a box – anything goes and experimentation is welcomed.
With this in mind, we took eight of the Double Dutch range and put them through their paces with a plethora of spirits – from raicilla to Cognac. Read on to find the winning combinations that we uncovered, set to transform your highball drinking this spring and summer.
Bloody Mary Soda with Pepper
Tomato, celery, pepper spice… this surprising soda ticks all the Bloody Mary boxes, minus that occasionally cloying sensation you get from your average tomato juice. It’s light, frothy and fantastic. A natural bedfellow for vodka and Tequila (if you haven’t already tried a Bloody Maria, whereby the vodka is switched out for Tequila, you must), this soda also mixes brilliantly with the malty flavours found in whisky and genever.
Try it with: Rutte Old Simon Genever or Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch whisky
Cranberry and Ginger Tonic
This is tonic water, but not as you know it. In most tonics, the bitter flavour of the quinine dominates. Here, however, the gentle fruity crunch of the cranberry comes to the fore, while the ginger and quinine spice mingle in the background. Recommended by Double Dutch for dark rums, Cognacs and floral gins, our star pairing actually involves Plantation’s complex white rum. The subtle fruit of the tonic amps up the red fruit characteristics of the rum, resulting in a pleasingly thirst-quenching whole of a highball.
Try it with: Plantation 3 Stars white rum
Cucumber Margarita Soda with Chilli
This savoury-sweet soda may have been created to pair with Tequila and Cointreau to produce a sparkling take on a Margarita, but its versatility knows no bounds. Its clean Persian lime, cucumber notes and rootsy chilli kick sit well with Aperol, Cognac, American corn whiskey, Mediterranean gin, spiced rum… the list goes on.
Try it with: Aperol, Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky, Remy Martin VSOP Cognac
Cucumber and Watermelon
Redolent of hot summer days filled with crisp, refreshing salads and platters of watermelon, this super-fresh soft is perfect sipped alone save for a garnish of basil. For those wanting to explore its mixing credentials, however, the earthiness of a quality unaged Tequila provides the perfect foil, with the green cucumber notes playing off the agave just perfectly.
Try it with: Vivir Tequila Blanco or Ocho Blanco Tequila
With its mix of three different types of ginger, this is one fiery offering, with a sleek acidic lime note cutting through the layered depth charge of spice. The strength of this ginger beer means it needs a spirit that will stand up to its robust flavour profile, making it perfect for dark rums and vodkas.
Try it with: That Boutique-y Rum Company Signature Blend #2
Indian Tonic Water
Gently bitter and with a soft, bubbly mousse, Double Dutch’s tonic starts with citrusy pink grapefruit and pink peppercorn flavours before a classic quinine character wins through. Obviously perfect with gin, vodka and Tequila, the mixing opportunities extend way beyond that. The light citrus-smoke flavour profile of Hakushu Japanese whisky is teased apart and amplified; while mixing with Martini Riserva results in a more approachable alternative to a Campari and tonic, bursting with red fruits.
Try it with: Martini Riserva Speciale Bitter or Hakushu 12YO whisky
Skinny Tonic Water
Made to the same recipe as the Indian Tonic Water, but with less sugar, the flavour profile is a touch more lemon-citrus, lemon pith and pine needles, with quinine on the finish. As well as the usual white spirits pairings, this made a delightful bourbon and tonic, with the caramel characteristics in the soft, sweet Yellowstone Bourbon coming to the fore.
Try it with: Yellowstone Select bourbon whiskey
Pomegranate and Basil
There’s something deep and decadent about this mixer, the velvety pomegranate enhanced by the herbal hit of basil. Its complexity provides versatility, with the option of exploring smoky agave spirits such as mezcal and raicilla, or going to the lighter end of the flavour spectrum with vermouth or citrusy spirits. Easy Mixt, a citrus liqueur designed for versatile mixing, adds a bright, moreish pop to this gorgeous soda, and makes for a low-abv option to boot.
Try it with: Easy Mixt liqueur or Balam Costa Raicilla