Mizuwari: The Art of Japanese Highball

If you are uninitiated to “highball”, the Japanese art of drinking, the word might bring to your mind a game played at casinos. But, interestingly, it is a cocktail with a spirit base which is mixed with a larger percentage of non-alcoholic mixer and served with ice in a tall glass. Since 1920, the Japanese have been making whisky. They love to combine their meals with alcohol. However, it was difficult to drink whisky straight during a meal. The Japanese art of drinking whisky is known as “Mizuwari”, which means mixed with water.

This cocktail became popular in 1950 when the Japanese were recovering from war and witnessed financial constraints. It was an inexpensive way to drink whisky. However, there was a slump in whisky consumption in 1980 and early 1990s. One important factor which led to the resurgence of the highball was the Suntory campaign. To rival beer, it came up with highball in a can. With the attention which Japanese whisky is getting these days, it’s not a surprise that highball is making a comeback.

For a perfect Mizuwari, first fill your glass with ice, add a dose of whisky for every 2 to 2.5 doses of mineral water. The “highball” is that version of Mizuwari where sparkling water is used with whisky. It is one of the most revered cocktails in Japan. The modern Mizuwari recipes recommend using more water than before.

To make the Mizuwari, add ice to a highball glass. Next stir the ice with a bar-spoon to chill the glass. Make sure that you discard the melted water. Next, add whisky and stir 13 and half times clockwise. Carefully add the sparkling water and again stir 3 and half times clockwise. Make sure that you do not spill and spoil the drink. When you are highballing, go with a light whisky such as Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony or Nikka Coffey Grain. Your magical potion is ready.

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