This is a story about the most simple of mixed drinks; the Highball.
Despite the simplicity of the serve - once one starts to consider the variables and the important elements that make up the whole - things quickly become complex. This happens many drinks. The martini being a great example where 'best practice' is debated in bars across the world despite the drink being of the simplest formulation. Highballs have slightly less baggage, but in Japan they're obsessed over in a beautiful fashion and have become something of an artform.
It is no secret that a touch of salt in all manner of mixed drinks has the ability to elevate the sense of taste a few notches. Top cocktail bars have deployed strategic dashes of 'saline solution' into cocktails to create a unami sensation and the mineral content of certain water brands has been used for similar effect.
In our tiny belnding studio in Leith - there are two brands of water that we keep in stock. We're in an old industrial building with terrible pipes - so we use a soft scottish mineral water for cutting samples to tasting strength. Highland Spring does the job nicely.
But the other water is a little more obscure. One of our team (Duncan) got married in the Catalonia region some years ago and encountered a sparkling mineral water called Vichy Catalan which became something of an obsession. It's mottled bottle was an aesthetic choice but nothing prepared him and his guests for the delights within. The water made everything taste amazing, and boasts this unctious, oily like sensation. It elevates drinks beautifully.
So it turned out that the secret to Vichy Catalan taste is a super high sodium content (and minerals generally). Whilst most brands will have trace levels of Sodium. Vichy Catalan contains a big smack of sodium content that works miracles on mixed drinks. We've even heard of bouji martini bars making ice from the stuff as their secret weapon in the quest for martini perfection.
It turns out there's a small Spanish deli around the corner from our studio that stocks it, and from the moment Duncan picked up a bottle and started making highballs with it in the studio - we've not truly been able to enjoy anything else. Is it the healthiest choice for either our bank balance or hearts? Probably not. Does it make incredible highballs? Yes, yes it does.
THE SUPERBLEND HIGHBALL - SUPER SODA
150ml Vichy Catalan Sparkling water
Make everything cold. Combine all in highball glass over ice. Garnish with a zest of orange.