The first time I had a Dartmouth Highball was during a stage at Island Creek Oyster Bar back in 2011. It was one of the first drinks I was instructed to make, and if my memory serves me right it was on their drink menu at the time. It’s an Eastern Standard original, developed by Bob McCoy – who also happened to be overseeing my stage that night.
Created years prior for a Pimm’s Cup section on ES’s menu, Bob was inspired by the refreshing and herbaceous aspects of a classic Pimm’s Cup, but was also looking create a boozy, tea-like concoction that was lighter and more easy-drinking than the traditional Long Island one. The two ideas came together and the Dartmouth Highball was born. The cocktail was named after the Dartmouth, one of the three British East India Company ships looted by the Boston Tea Party.
At the time of my stage, I hadn’t considered using Pimm’s in anything but the classic Cup, so discovering its versatility was pretty neat.
The fruity, herbal, gin-based spirit was created in London in the 1840s. It remains hugely popular in the UK, and its low-ABV makes it an ideal candidate for all-day day-drinking (especially come summer) when topped off with lemonade or even just some seltzer and lime. Pimm’s is a wise addition for any home liquor cabinet, and a gin that I particularly like for the Dartmouth is Privateer Tiki, made up the road in Ipswich.
The flavor and aroma of the Dartmouth Highball instantly brings me back to that time in my life, now nearly 10 years ago. I had just moved to Boston, and was both nervous and excited for a new job, a new chapter. The city was alive and vibrant, bars and restaurants were packed in every neighborhood, and Kenmore Square pulsated with energy. Even though it has been a year since the pandemic began, I’m still stunned by how quickly the Boston I knew from that time has changed. Given the recent sad news of ICOB’s, Eastern Standard’s and The Hawthorne‘s permanent closures, these memories stir a lot of emotion.
I’m forever grateful for the lasting friendships I made during that time – on both sides of the bar. ICOB is also where I met my husband. It’s hard to picture Boston without these institutions, yet as I reflect on these places, I can only hope for better days ahead.
What you’ll need
1½ oz. Pimm’s No. 1
¾ oz. gin
¾ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. lemon juice
4 mint leaves
2 to 4 oz ginger beer
Muddle mint and syrup in a mixing glass, add the other ingredients and dry shake (no ice). Strain into a highball over ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with mint sprig.
Join our virtual cocktail class:
Join us Thursday, February 25 at 7 p.m. with host Jackson Cannon and his special guest, Gina Richard Sargeant. This week they’ll be making cocktails with Pimm’s, the perennial kitchen-cabinet dwelling British aperitif, catching up about the Boston restaurant and bar scene, and sharing tips the pros use to make great drinks at home. They’ll be mixing a classic Pimm’s Cup and a modern twist on that drink known as the Dartmouth Highball.
Gina Richard Sargeant is head bartender at Select Oyster Bar in Boston.