December 28, 2022

Bizzy Izzy Highball: A Unique Cocktail Recipe and Its History

Whiskey cocktails don't have to be boozy drinks served on the rocks, and the Bizzy Izzy is a perfect example of how they can even be light and fruity.

Topping the Bizzy Izzy with soda water

Despite being older than your grandpa, the Bizzy Izzy cocktail tastes like something from the menu at your local cocktail bar.

It has a delicious balance between sweetness and complexity and the punchy pineapple fruitiness makes this whiskey cocktail damn near chug-able.

It is so cool to think how you can sip on the same drink that was served before prohibition, and it's even cooler that it tastes great too.

pouring rye whiskey into a cocktail shaker

The Bizzy Izzy cocktail history

The Bizzy Izzy is a pre-prohibition cocktail created by barman Tom Bolluck and published in his guide The Ideal Bartender in 1917. Bolluck became the first black bartender to publish a bar manual just before prohibition shut down the American cocktail scene.

Bolluck built his career at the St. Louis Country Club where he famously served the future president Teddy Roosevelt.

His book was dedicated "to those who enjoy snug club rooms, that they may learn the art of preparing for themselves what is good"... so let's go make something good.

squeezing fresh lemon juice for a bizzy izzy highball

Determining the Bizzy Izzy recipe

The original recipe lacked a bit of detail leaving a few things open to interpretation.

is the bizzy izzy a highball?

In his recipe, Bolluck titled the drink the Bizzy Izzy Highball, but soda water is missing from the list of ingredients, so should you add the soda water or not?

The marriage of pineapple and whiskey is so mellow and bright that I think the Bizzy Izzy is begging to be topped off with soda. It softens all the flavors just a little bit and makes it even more refreshing.

And as an added bonus the soda water and pineapple juice create a nice light foam on the top that will make you want to post this on your Instagram story.

adding soda to the bizzy izzy highball

Ingredients for your Bizzy Izzy highball

The Bizzy Izzy is made with rye whiskey, sherry, pineapple juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, and angostura bitters.

For your rye whiskey choose a bottle that would also be enjoyable if stirred in an Old Fashioned or Manhattan. Something that won't be too hard on the wallet while also having its own flavors to contribute.

Some of my favorite mixing ryes are: Old Overholt, Rittenhouse, Sazerac, or Wild Turkey 101 rye. All of these options are also great for mixing any other rye whiskey cocktail.

a bottle of Amontillado sherry

picking which sherry to use

In Bolluck's book the recipe simply calls for "sherry" leaving us to decide which style he was most likely referring to. The most commonly used style in the Bizzy Izzy is Amontillado sherry which has a nutty flavor that really compliments the rye whiskey nicely.

In addition to working well in this recipe, Amontillado sherry is also great mixed in many other drinks so your bottle can go to good use.

measuring fresh pineapple juice

How to make fresh pineapple juice

Pineapple juice has such a unique tangy sweetness that you should do your best to get your hands on the fresh stuff (and there is a way to do it without a juicer).

The ideal way to get fresh pineapple juice for cocktails is with a juicer (obviously) but I realize not everybody is able to have one at home. You can also check your local grocery store or coop but it's pretty uncommon to find the fresh stuff there.

As an alternative, you can cut the pineapple into 1 inch chunks and blend with just a tiny bit of water until you get a smooth texture. Then pour the mixture through a strainer lined with a cheese cloth (Amazon) and squeeze out all the juice.

The blender method takes a bit of effort but the fresh juice is worth it and the leftover can be used in a Jungle Bird or your next smoothie. 

putting a straw in the bizzy izzy

Bizzy Izzy Highball

A pre-prohibition era whiskey cocktail with delicious balance between sweet fresh pineapple and complex sherry and rye whiskey.


  • 1 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Amontillado Sherry
  • 1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
  • 3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • Soda Water


  • Add all the ingredients except for the soda water into your cocktail shaker.
  • Add ice and shake hard for about 10 seconds.
  • Strain into a collins glass filled with ice.
  • Top up with about 1 oz of soda water and serve with a straw.


If you don't have a fruit juicer and cannot find fresh pineapple juice near you, check out the blender method I included in the post!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 drink
Tag me at @mydrinkinghobby when you make this!


bizzy izzy cocktail recipe

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