Sierra Highball with Rye Whiskey and Pine Liqueur

Sierra Highball with Rye Whiskey and Pine Liqueur
Jump to Recipe 👇

About This Recipe

In the heart of California's wine country, amidst the undulating vineyards and sun-dappled valleys, a cocktail emerges that captures the rugged spirit of the Sierra Nevada and the lush, verdant landscapes of Napa Valley. The Sierra Highball, a concoction of rye whiskey and pine liqueur, offers a sip of the region's natural beauty, blending the warmth of whiskey with the fresh, aromatic essence of the forest.

Crafting this drink was inspired by the desire to bring the outdoors in, to merge the distinct character of rye whiskey with the unique, herbaceous flavor of pine liqueur. This combination, balanced with the brightness of fresh lemon juice and the sweetness of simple syrup, creates a cocktail that is both complex and refreshing. The inclusion of club soda adds a light effervescence that lifts the spirits, making the Sierra Highball an ideal choice for those crisp fall evenings when the air is cool and the leaves begin their vibrant transformation.

The choice of rye whiskey as the base spirit is no accident. Its spicy, peppery notes provide a robust foundation that complements the woodsy, resinous flavors of the pine liqueur. This liqueur, distilled from the needles of pine trees, brings a touch of the wild Sierra landscape to the glass, a nod to the towering forests that span the mountain range.

In Napa Valley, where innovation meets tradition, local distilleries and bars often experiment with botanicals and spirits that reflect the region's diverse flora. The Sierra Highball is a reflection of this creativity, a drink that marries the craft of distillation with the bounty of the land. For those looking to recreate this cocktail at home or explore similar flavors, visiting local distilleries like Napa Valley Distillery or exploring the offerings at bars in downtown Napa can provide inspiration and ingredients.

Pairing the Sierra Highball with food is an adventure in itself. Its bold flavors stand up well to hearty, rustic dishes—think a charcuterie board laden with local cheeses, smoked meats, and pickled vegetables from the Oxbow Public Market. The cocktail's bright citrus notes and effervescence make it a refreshing counterpoint to rich, savory flavors, enhancing the dining experience.

As the nights grow longer and the air takes on the crisp edge of autumn, the Sierra Highball offers a warm embrace, a reminder of the enduring beauty of California's landscapes. It invites us to take a moment, to savor the flavors that speak of place and season, and to celebrate the innovative spirit that makes Napa Valley a culinary and viticultural treasure.

For visitors and locals alike, exploring Napa's culinary scene extends beyond the vineyards. It's an invitation to experience the creativity and craftsmanship that define the valley, from the bars and restaurants that dot the landscape to the distilleries that push the boundaries of traditional spirits. The Sierra Highball, with its blend of rye whiskey and pine liqueur, is more than just a cocktail; it's a journey through the heart of California's wine country, a taste of the land itself.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Rye Whiskey

Rye whiskey, the backbone of the Sierra Highball, is celebrated for its spicy, robust flavor profile that stands up beautifully to the aromatic pine liqueur. Originating from the oldest whiskey-making traditions, rye whiskey adds depth and warmth to the cocktail, embodying the spirited essence of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Its rich history and resurgence in craft distillation highlight its importance in both classic and contemporary cocktail culture, making it a favorite among connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike.

How to Perfectly Balance Cocktail Flavors

  1. Start with Quality Ingredients: The foundation of a great cocktail is high-quality spirits and fresh mixers. For the Sierra Highball, select a rye whiskey known for its smoothness and a premium pine liqueur with a clear, natural flavor.
  2. Measure Precisely: Use a jigger to measure your ingredients accurately. The balance between the whiskey, pine liqueur, lemon juice, and simple syrup is crucial for achieving the perfect blend of flavors.
  3. Adjust to Taste: After mixing, taste your cocktail. If it's too tart, add a little more simple syrup. If it's too sweet, balance it with a few more drops of lemon juice. Cocktail making is as much about personal preference as it is about precision.


  1. Can I substitute the rye whiskey with another type of whiskey?
    Yes, bourbon or Scotch can be used, but keep in mind that each will bring its unique flavor profile to the cocktail.
  2. What if I can't find pine liqueur?
    Look for other herbaceous liqueurs like Chartreuse or a spruce tip syrup as an alternative, though they will slightly alter the taste.
  3. Is there a non-alcoholic version of this cocktail?
    For a non-alcoholic Sierra Highball, replace the rye whiskey and pine liqueur with non-alcoholic spirits or increase the club soda and add a dash of pine or fir needle syrup for flavor.
  4. How should I store leftover pine liqueur?
    Keep it in a cool, dark place like your pantry. Pine liqueur, like other spirits, doesn't spoil easily, but its flavors are best preserved when stored properly.
  5. Can I make this cocktail in advance?
    Mix the rye whiskey, pine liqueur, lemon juice, and simple syrup ahead of time, but add the club soda right before serving to maintain its fizz.

Tips for Success

  1. Chill Your Glassware: Serve your Sierra Highball in a chilled highball glass to keep it refreshingly cool.
  2. Experiment with Garnishes: While a pine sprig and lemon twist are traditional, experimenting with other garnishes like a sprig of rosemary or a slice of orange can add an interesting twist to your cocktail.
  3. Learn to Adjust: Becoming skilled at adjusting cocktails to suit your taste is a valuable skill. Don't be afraid to tweak the proportions or ingredients to create a drink that's perfectly suited to your palate.

These additional insights are designed to elevate your experience of making and enjoying the Sierra Highball, ensuring each sip is a delightful journey through the flavors and aromas that define this unique cocktail.

Recipe Overview

Sierra Highball with Rye Whiskey and Pine Liqueur
Lily Anderson
1 serving
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz pine liqueur
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz club soda
  • Ice cubes
  • A sprig of pine for garnish
  • Lemon twist, for garnish

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.
  2. In the glass, combine rye whiskey, pine liqueur, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup.
  3. Top with club soda and gently stir to combine all the ingredients.
  4. Garnish with a sprig of pine and a twist of lemon.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy the refreshing taste of the Sierra.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

About Me

Don't miss a recipe!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Coming soon - Cookbook!

Loving Napa Home Chef Recipes and wishing for more? Discover print exclusives!

Napa Recipe Cookbook: Napa Home Chef
Smoked Salmon-Dill Deviled Eggs
Sunny Side Up Breakfast Pizza
Golden State Garlic Aioli
Creamy Apple and Parsnip Puree with Toasted Hazelnuts
Tamales Colorados with Achiote Pork and Ancho Peppers
Pacific Coast Pesto
Vegan Portobello and Cashew Cheese Panini with Arugula
Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Parmesan
Smoked Trout Tostada with Avocado Mousse and Crispy Leeks
Crunchy Chipotle Chicken Al Pastor Taquitos
Truffle Butter Recipe
Red Wine Style Clam Chowder

Mandatory (inedible) cookies. By using this website, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.