Editor's note: Prince of York has paused its service, but is currently offering takeaway and delivery.

When you mention a Highball, most people immediately think of the Whisky Highball, a straightforward mix of whisky and ginger ale over ice that was popularised in Japan around the middle of last century. But any spirit mixer in a tall glass can be a Highball, as Reece Griffiths, bar manager of Sydney’s multi-level wine bar Prince of York explains.

“A Highball refers to that simple style of drink that’s a spirit base with a mixer to lengthen it, but the whole idea is that it’s light,” he says. “So anything that’s a long drink, you could definitely put into that category.”

Griffiths demonstrates the Highball’s broad versatility with his Paloma Rosa, a subtly spicy spin on the traditional Mexican Paloma, using infused Don Julio tequila. It plays a big part of Prince of York’s disco-driven downstairs bar, Pamela’s. Despite the sophistication of infused tequila and the bar’s playful tinkering with different salt combinations, the Paloma Rosa is a drink that suits Pamela’s casual atmosphere.

“That’s the whole idea with our drinks menu down there,” Griffiths says. “To have simple, light flavours that taste great.”

While a traditional Paloma adds fresh lime and a salt rim to a bright mix of tequila and grapefruit soda, Griffiths begins his creation by infusing the tequila with strawberry and jalapeño. That’s not unheard of in Mexico – quite the opposite. “A lot of bars [there] use house-cured or infused spirits,” he says. “It’s a clever way to get a different flavour into the drink. And for Pamela’s, where everything needs to be simple and easy to serve, it’s one way to ensure consistency of flavour without too much effort.”

To infuse a bottle of tequila, he suggests using a single punnet of strawberries and a half or whole jalapeño, depending on how spicy you like it. Though the bar uses the sous vide method to speed up the process, you can do it at home in 12 hours: just pop the strawberries and jalapeño into a jar with the tequila, leave it overnight at room temperature, and then strain it out the next day.

Griffiths uses Don Julio Blanco tequila, which is unaged and freshly distilled in the style of all blancos – letting the agave shine through – but with vanilla and citrus notes too. “Don Julio Blanco has a big vanilla, and I always think peppercorn, backbone to it,” he says. “It’s got a bit of spice, but also this soft vanilla mid-palate. Strawberry pairs quite well with that flavour profile. It’s quite a soft, approachable style of blanco, so we paired it with some really subtle flavours.”

The rim of the glass is salted with rose salt, which is made from a fine grind of rose tea and pink river salt. “We like playing with a lot of flavoured salts,” says Griffiths. “Any time you’re using salt on a drink, it helps carry flavours and hit a few more of the spicy-savoury notes.” The rose tea adds a hint of a floral note without requiring another ingredient in the drink itself, which suits the brisk preparation of drinks at Pamela’s, where people often end up after a dinner at the ground-level wine bar.

“Later in the evening, people want to get on the dancefloor,” says Griffiths. “The whole idea is that after you’ve finished dinner, you head downstairs for a bit of a boogie and a great cocktail.”

Paloma Rosa
Serves 1. Makes 1.5 standard drinks.

Ingredients:

50ml Don Julio Blanco (infused with strawberry and jalapeño)
15ml fresh lime juice
90ml grapefruit soda
A teaspoon of Pink Rose Leaf Tea
A teaspoon of Murray River Pink Salt Flakes

Method:

Build in highball glass. Add cubed ice and stir briefly. Blitz together the tea and salt flakes in a food processor. Rim the glass with rose salt. Garnish with a lime wheel and strawberry half skewered.

Covid-19 (coronavirus) means we’re living in unprecedented and uncertain times. Mass public gatherings are banned, some travel is restricted and minimal social contact is recommended. For the most up-to-date health information, visit the Department of Health.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Don Julio. Drink responsibly.