The Scotch & Soda isn’t exactly known for being the most complex or sexy cocktail, but in the hands of Jessie Duré, the bar manager at New York’s recently reinvented and reopened Chumley’s, the meat-and-potatoes cocktail becomes a thing of beauty. Along with a list of seasonally-inspired cocktails, Duré includes a full chapter of Scotch & Soda variations on her drinks menu that show just how surprisingly satisfying the tried and true classic can be. These aren’t simply different scotches with soda water—these are masterful works of mixology, better than you’ve ever had them before.
Recently, the Scotch & Soda—and one could argue the Highball in general—has experienced a bit of a resurgence in popularity. Like most cocktail trends, it started in the bartender community as a way to make a high-proof spirit sessionable. “That was something that became important to bartenders because we drink for a living, and it’s not healthy to do that all day every day,” she says. “That said, there’s no reason not to imbibe and enjoy—you only live once of course.” By adopting the Highball, bartenders still got that high-proof kick of a straight spirit, with a long, hydrating pour of fizzy water.