This Japanese whisky cocktail is an easy variation on a whiskey soda. The best part is that you build it right in the glass that you will use to serve it, so it’s the perfect drink for a cocktail party.
What is Japanese Whisky?
As the name implies, Japanese whisky is whisky made in Japan. The Japanese have, in fact, been distilling their own whisky for close to two centuries.
Experts describe the taste of Japanese whisky as similar to the taste of Scotch whisky. The similarity is not a coincidence since the Japanese set out to imitate the taste of Scotch when they first started producing it. If you can’t find Japanese whisky where you live, feel free to substitute it for Scotch.
Up until the 21st century, Japanese whisky was largely unknown outside of Japan. After winning international whisky contests, several Japanese whiskys are now highly coveted around the world. The two best-known producers of Japanese whisky are Suntory (the whisky featured in this recipe) and Nikka.
What is a Highball?
Most Japanese whisky in Japan is used to make mixed drinks like this one. The term “highball” refers to a drink that uses a higher ratio of mixer (like soda) to base spirit (whisky in this case).
If you have ever had a Cuba Libre, you have had a highball cocktail. The word “highball” is also used to designate the glass in which you serve it. Highball glasses tend to be tall and wide and can traditionally hold 8-12 oz of fluid.
The glass I used here is not a traditional highball glass because it’s not wide enough. Don’t worry if you don’t want to spend the money on highball glasses; any tall glass will do.
The Inspiration for this Japanese Whisky Cocktail
The first time I had a whisky highball, I was in one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle, Tamari Bar.
I immediately loved the drink because it’s light and refreshing and goes well with pretty much any of their dishes.
I recently went back for my birthday, and they had a whisky highball that featured ginger beer in addition to soda. The addition of the ginger beer definitely made the cocktail more daring and fun, so I set out to recreate it at home.
For my version, I’ve also added a dash of Angostura bitters to balance out the sweetness of the ginger beer. I’ve also cut down on the amount of ginger beer to allow the whisky flavor to shine through.
Japanese Whisky Ginger Highball
- 1 oz Toki Suntory whisky
- 3.5 oz ginger beer (I used Fever Tree)
- soda water to taste
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 slice blood orange to garnish (optional)
- Fill a highball glass with ice.
- Gently pour the ginger beer into the glass. Add soda to about two fingers below the rim of the glass.
- Add the whisky and bitters and stir using a bar spoon.
- Taste an add more soda if necessary.
- Garnish with a slice of blood orange (if using). Serve immediately.