Last night at 2am I rolled back into my house after 8 long days in San Francisco for work capped off with a delightful 3 hour flight delay (because of course). An exhaustive cocktail of a week full of mostly work but also parties, friends, and of course– food and drink. Every time I visit SF I am on a quest to seek out the delicious and this week was no exception. Now, after being in Mexico for a week, followed by SF for a week– I’m probably due for more water than cocktails, but maybe just one more drink before that. It is Friday after all…One night after an event, I went with some coworkers to Nihon Whisky Bar in the Mission. If you aren’t familiar with Japanese Whisky, it (like most things Japanese) is made to extremely high standards. It’s pretty sought after in the US, and so for someone like me who likes Japanese Whisky but isn’t exactly around it much, Nihon was pretty crazy to see. We sat down, ordered some snacks and drinks (I went for a Sazerac first), and then we spotted the highball “machine.”
A Japanese Highball, while technically is in fact just a whisky-soda, is perfected by the Japanese. Extremely cold whisky and soda water are blended over clear, dense (preferably hand carved) ice to create a fizzy, low ABV, extremely drinkable cocktail that pairs with food much like a beer. The machine at the bar was one of only a few in the US. It essentially acts as a soda fountain, keeping the whisky and soda stored separately in refrigerated units. Pull the tap and out comes a fizzy, frothy, perfectly proportioned beverage– citrus or herb garnish optional– perfect for a happy hour, or to have with a meal. By bringing the proof of the cocktail down to that of a beer, it makes for the perfect casual two ingredient cocktail. Sign me up.
I happen to have a bottle of Japanese whisky in my liquor cabinet at home that Chris brought back from a trip to Kobe, however you don’t have to splurge on a $100+ bottle for this cocktail (plus that bottle–which I did use for this drink–is really more for sipping). Japanese Whisky is becoming much easier to find in the US, and so something like the Suntory Toki Blended Whisky runs about $40 (and you can buy it online!) and would be perfect to keep in the freezer for highballs on demand. I know I’ll be adding some to my liquor cabinet.
1.5 oz whisky (I recommend a blended Japanese whisky for authenticity, but you can sub your favorite whisky here no problem!)
4 oz club soda (I would recommend Fever Tree Club Soda– it has high carbonation for ultimate fizziness)
Clear ice (ESSENTIAL)
Optional garnish: Fresh mint or citrus peel of your choice
For ultimate success, make sure everything is niiiice and cold. I chilled my glass in the freezer with ice in it for about 15 minutes before assembling the drink. Once everything is chilled, add 1.5 oz chilled whisky to the ice. Add soda and stir carefully until combined. Top with mint or citrus peel. Kanpai!
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