Japanese Highball

By Timo Torner / Last updated on March 20, 2023

Japanese Highball culture is all about the details. So it's nos surprise that this also applies to the Japanese Whisky Highball.
Japanese Highball made with Whisky & Soda water

Made from only two ingredients, mastering the process of making an excellent Japanese Highball is a form of art. If you get it right, the drink is crisp and light, it has the ideal carbonation and the perfect ratio of Whisky and soda water.

Highballs, in general, are an essential part of Japan's bar and restaurant culture. You'll find countless variations with different base spirits.

Besides the Whisky Highball, there are also many variations of Shochu Highballs like the Chu-Hai or Oolong-hai.

But as simple as it looks, making a Japanese Highball the traditional way means following exact steps and guidelines.

About the Japanese Highball

As the name already reveals, the Japanese Highball is part of the Highball cocktail family - drinks usually made with two ingredients: a liquor base and a mixer.

The Japanese Highball belongs to the Whiskey Highballs, mostly paired with soda water. These drinks are served since the early 1900s. One of the most popular ones is Scotch & Soda.

Still, a Highball is more than simply putting together two ingredients, it's about perfect ratios and attention to detail.

Japanese Whisky Highball


For the Japanese Highball, you need -like the name implies- Japanese Whisky and carbonated mineral water:

  • Japanese Whisky is renowned for its high quality, and they learned from one of the best - the Scots. That's also the reason why this style of Whiskey is best compared to its Scottish counterpart. The taste of Japanese Whisky is mellow and fairly dry, with fruity notes and a slightly smoky flavor. And just like Scotch (and Canadian Whisky), the spirit is spelled without an "e" - Whisky instead of Whiskey.
  • The mixer - soda or seltzer: As I mentioned, making a Japanese Highball is about using the perfect ingredients in the right balance. And the mixer does account for the majority of the drink. You have the choice between soda water and Seltzer. The latter is simply carbonated water without any additional ingredients. Soda, though, is enriched with minerals, creating a slightly salty flavor, which we want. So take Soda with minerals and make sure it's freshly opened and holds enough carbonation.

The right glassware

Surely, you know the iconic Martini and Old Fashioned glasses. And just like these classic cocktails, Highballs also have their own type of glass. The Highball glass is tall and similar to a Collins glass. However, the Collins glass is slightly taller and narrower. The capacity of a Highball glass varies between 8 to 12 ounces.

How to make the perfect Japanese Highball

To make this Highball, you should prepare the components upfront. Everything needs to be properly chilled, from the Highball glass to the ingredients.

Further, the ice should be crystal clear. A quality collins ice stick is best, but regular clear ice cubes also do the trick.

Once all the ingredients are chilled, you can start by adding ice into a Highball glass. Stir it for 30 seconds - only the ice-, then remove any melted water from the glass.

Steps to make a perfect Japanese Highball

Then add the Japanese Whisky and stir it exactly 13.5 times clockwise. That is a Japanese ceremony, so follow it if you want to create a traditional version of this Highball.

Next, you add the chilled soda water:

Use a bar spoon to lift the ice inside the glass. Then pour the soda down the rivets of the spoon. This procedure ensures that the soda flows to the bottom of the glass where the chilled Whisky sits.

Finally, stir 3.5 times clockwise. Et voila, you just created a traditional Japanese Highball.

If you're not following the traditional 13.5 and 3.5 stir methods, keep in mind not to stir the final drink excessively. The metal bar spoon can affect the carbonation of the cocktail. So you potentially end up with a flat drink that tastes more like chilled and diluted Whisky.

Japanese Highball made with Whisky & Soda water

Japanese Highball

A refreshing Highball cocktail made with Japanese Whisky and chilled soda water.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: soda water, Whisky
Servings: 1
Calories: 148kcal
Cost: $2.90


  • 1 Jigger
  • 1 Bar spoon


  • 2 oz Japanese Whisky
  • 6 oz Soda water


  • Add ice into a Highball glass and stir it for 30 seconds.
  • Get rid of excess water and pour in Japanese Whisky.
    2 oz Japanese Whisky
  • Stir clockwise 13.5 times.
  • Lift the ice with a bar spoon and gently pour the chilled soda water down its rivets.
    6 oz Soda water
  • Stir 3.5 times clockwise to incorporate the ingredients.


Serving: 8ozCalories: 148kcalCarbohydrates: 0.06gSodium: 40.32mgPotassium: 4.48mgSugar: 0.06gCalcium: 9.6mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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