The kitty highball is a low alcohol aperitif made with red wine, ginger syrup, lime juice, and soda water or seltzer. Ideal for all night—or all day—sipping.

When you want (need?!) to sip all night long without getting tipsy and without feeling like you’re being deprived, this inspired riff on a classic is what you want. The original kitty highball, essentially red wine watered down with ginger ale, was created as a low-alcohol aperitif. This contemporary riff elevates it by infusing red wine with deconstructed ginger ale—that is to say, natural ginger syrup, seltzer, and a touch of lime. Definitely something you’ll want to sip all night long.Angie Zoobkoff

A tall, cool pink Kitty highball, filled with ice, and sporting a lemon slice

Kitty Highball

5 from 1 vote
The kitty highball is a low alcohol aperitif made with red wine, ginger syrup, lime juice, and soda water or seltzer. Ideal for all night—or all day—sipping.
Servings1 serving
Calories109 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes


  • 2 ounces red wine
  • 3/4 ounce store-bought or homemade ginger syrup*
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • Ice
  • Seltzer or soda water
  • Candied ginger (optional)


  • In a cocktail shaker, combine the wine, ginger syrup, and lime juice. (Alternatively, make a big batch of the wine mixture and stash it in the fridge for aperitif emergencies.) Add a small piece of cracked ice and shake until chilled, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Strain into a collins glass filled with ice, top with a splash of seltzer or soda water, and garnish with the candied ginger.


*How To Make Your Own Ginger Syrup

If you’d like to make your own ginger syrup, simply combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/4 cup fresh ginger juice in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely before using. Refrigerate in a covered container for up to 1 month.
Sessions Cocktails Book

Adapted From

Session Cocktails

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Serving: 1 drinkCalories: 109 kcalCarbohydrates: 18 gProtein: 1 gFat: 1 gSodium: 15 mgPotassium: 102 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 16 gVitamin A: 8 IUVitamin C: 4 mgCalcium: 9 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2018 Drew Lazor. Photo © 2018 Lizzie Munro. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

My first thought reading the recipe was, “Why adulterate good red wine?” Now I know the answer. The ginger flavor harmonized surprisingly well with the wine without being overly sweet. This drink was delightfully delicious and refreshing, and, in fact, my demanding tasters insisted I immediately make a second batch.

A confession: I cheated! I happened to have a bottle of ginger syrup made by “Alchemist’s Elexir” (the only ingredients are fresh pressed ginger and pure cane syrup) which I used instead of making my own ginger syrup. The cheat was prompted by not knowing where to buy ginger juice and not owning a juice extractor to make my own.

I used Rotie Cellars 2013 Southern Blend from Washington State (75% grenache, 15% syrah, 10% Mourvedre).

Use LARGE pieces of candied ginger that can be anchored to the rim of the glass. The nubs I mistakenly used for garnish quickly sunk to the bottom of the glass, but gluttonously eating those cocktail-infused candied ginger nubs with a spoon after slurping down this cocktail was quite the unsophisticated but satisfying treat!

Try this delicious, light, fast, and easy cocktail soon. It’s a winner.

I loved this drink as it combines two of my most favorite flavors—red wine and ginger. I don’t think I would like it as much using ginger ale but with the strong ginger syrup this drink is a winner. I also think it works for any season.

I was expecting a cocktail that packed more of a punch. What I ended up with was a light refresco that was a red wine spritzer with a bit of a ginger zing. The cocktail is very refreshing and I can imagine it to be a thirst-quencher on a hot summer’s day—not too sweet at all!

I tried this recipe twice. The first time I divided the recipe into two servings. Far too light and watered down and I didn’t like it at all. The second time I used the same amount of the ingredients (except for the seltzer) but used it for ONE cocktail. Better. I used Cabernet Sauvignon.

In the future, I think I will combine the wine, syrup, and lime juice and chill in the fridge ahead of time if I know I am going to make the cocktail and especially if I am going to make a large batch.

Originally published January 19, 2019

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Perfect timing! I am cutting back on calories at the beginning of this new year, as are many people I know, and in general lightening up. Yet, I would miss an evening cocktail! This was perfect to satisfy my evening craving for sipping and habit. I like the flavor — not too sweet for a spritzer. I had three over the course of the evening. Yes, as you said, an all-night sipper. Thank you!

    1. You’re very welcome, Susan! Thrilled to hear that this satisfied your need! And yes, we, too, loved that it wasn’t too sweet. Cheers!