Watch The Tokyo Olympics With A Traditional Japanese Highball In Hand

In Japan, home to the upcoming Summer Olympics, the age-old thirst quencher is affectionately dubbed the “highball”. The Highball was a favorite of whisky drinkers in Japan in the 1950s. It was created to bring the proof of the whisky down and open it up in a refreshing way to pair well with Japanese cuisine. Highballs soon became an instant and widespread hit in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Today, you will find Highballs in every bar in the country. People enjoy them in big mugs filled with ice at izakayas, after work with friends while eating yakitori, and at more formal bars where the bartender adds each ingredient carefully, stirring the ice to chill the whisky 13 and a half times to the left, and then adding soda water down the arm of the spoon, careful not to burst the bubbles.

How to make a Highball cocktail


  • 1½ ounces spirit of choice (Japanese whisky, shochu, vermouth, sherry, tequila, mezcal)
  • 2 parts Top Note tonic water
  • 1 part Fever Tree club soda


  1. Fill a glass with ice and stir to chill. Pour off melted water but reserve the ice.
  2. Add spirit to chill, then add tonic and club soda directly onto the spirit, taking care not to splash the ice or the glass.
  3. Guide a bar spoon down the inside of the glass and gently nuzzle the ice upward and to the left to allow the ingredients to incorporate underneath the cubes.
  4. Lower the ice back down without agitating the cocktail and enjoy.