Engawa’s Japanese Highball

Washu Bar Engawa | Kaga, Japan

Japanese Whisky Highball Recipe

While there are many ways of making a highball even in Japan, each bar has its own codified way to produce the drink—which all bartenders must follow. This is the method practiced at a small sake (and whiskey) bar in Ishikawa prefecture called Washu Bar Engawa. Perhaps you couldn’t distinguish it in a blind taste test, but the precise choreography certainly adds to the pleasure of ordering one of these highballs.

At Engawa, this is always made with a bottle of Suntory Kakubin, which is ubiquitous in Japan, but unavailable in the U.S.; substitute any Japanese whisky or blended Scotch. In Japan, as elsewhere, a highball is often garnished with lemon, but Engawa’s proprietor insists on serving it un-garnished.


Serving: 1

  • 1 1/2 ounces Japanese whiskey, chilled in the freezer
  • 1 1/2 ounces Japanese whiskey, chilled in the freezer
  • 3 or 4 ounces cold seltzer
  • 3 or 4 ounces cold seltzer
  • clear cracked ice
  • clear cracked ice

  1. Carefully stack large chunks of cracked ice into a tower; fill the glass, but allow room for a barspoon to slide down the side.
  2. Carefully pour the whiskey into the glass so it doesn’t touch the top of the ice.
  3. Pour soda in the same manner, to within 1/4 inch of the top of the glass.
  4. Insert the barspoon down the side of the glass and under the stack of ice.
  5. Wiggle the spoon up and down to incorporate the whiskey and soda. Stir in a circle several times.
  6. Swizzle the barspoon up out of the glass so that the soda froths, making an appealing head on the drink. Serve immediately.