Someone unfamiliar with the world of cocktails may look at the name “highball” and relate it far more to a casino game than a drink. However, those who have already been initiated into the art of drinking know that the highball is a classic cocktail typically made with a single spirit base mixed in a tall glass with a greater percentage of a non-alcoholic mixer with ice. Like all classics. The highball was embraced and adopted separately around the world, and this cocktail won the hearts of Japans during the 1950s.
In the Japan, “highball” consists of a mixture of whisky and carbonated water. Rumour has it that the highball became popular in Japan due to the Japanese’ love for drinking while eating. Since it is hard to drink whisky straight when eating, the Japanese began to add soda water to their dinnertime whisky to temper its strength and make it enjoyable to have with a meal.
This inexpensive joy swiftly became a popular cocktail trend throughout the nation’s bars as well. Time brought waves of changes, and by the economic downturn period of the late 1980s, the highball had lost its popularity and appeal as whisky became significantly costlier. But this drink proved undefeatable when it resurged in 2008 thanks to a campaign by the major Japanese distillery Suntory. Suntory developed two unique concepts: “highball bars” and even highball in a can! And just like that, the “highball” came back in a major way in Japan, and modern baristas perfected the highball even further with their own little variations.
Here’s the recipe for Japanese Highball:
- 30ml-45ml Japanese Whisky or Scotch
- 80 ml sparkling water
- Add ice to a highball glass and stir with a bar spoon to chill the glass
- Discard any melted water from the glass but retain the ice
- Pour the whisky into the glass and stir 13 and a half times clockwise
- Add sparkling water to the glass and stir 3 and a half times clockwise
- Gently nestle the bar spoon beneath ice the ice base, then slowly lift upwards to fully homogenize the liquor with the carbonated water
- Hand-cut ice
- Bar spoon
- Highball glass