The Presbyterian is an excellent summer drink, ideal for hot summer evenings and loosey-goosey day drinking. Built on the awesome combination of lemon, lime, and ginger, it’s light and effervescent attitude pairs well with a game of cornhole or maybe a rooftop pool. This classic highball is rooted in old school health tonics, and is sure to please whiskey drinkers looking for something light and refreshing, or your friend who won’t order anything other than Moscow Mules.
The nose is predominantly full of lemon, lime, and whiffs of ginger. The sip is sour and bright on the tip of the tongue from the citrus and ginger, followed by an earthy, spicy, sweetness from ginger syrup and whiskey; this lends the drink a surprising dimensionality often missing from similar ginger drinks. The base spirit almost disappears behind the other ingredients, but there is just enough to give the drink a bit of bite and dimension. Ginger and bubbles are always amazing together—just ask anyone who likes ginger beer—but here that enjoyment is backed by a cast of other great flavors. The ginger in particular shines through in a complex, peppery, and not-so-sweet way.
Recipes for this drink commonly call for Scotch, but the version we share here—borrowed from Cocktail Codex—subs in rye with excellent results. You could get away with using ginger soda here, but we think the drink is much better with actual ginger syrup; the earthy complexity makes this drink shine. You can make your own ginger syrup using ginger juice, which is easy to buy at grocery stores. From there you just use it in place of water in a simple syrup. That said, if you simply must use ginger ale or ginger beer, reach for something with a hot ginger profile like Reed’s. Lemon-lime is nice, but we don’t get the sense that this particular citrus combo is a must. Subbing in grapefruit or meyer lemon would be a neat experiment.