In recent years, Japanese whisky has become incredibly popular in the United States, with sales booming over the last decade as Japanese distillers struggle to match production with the demand. One of the most popular ways to enjoy the variety of whiskies from Japan is in a highball. In fact, the highball has become inexorably linked to Japanese whisky, so much so that a misconception has developed that a highball or neat are the only “right” ways to consume the stuff.
Misconception or no, a highball is a splendid way to try Japanese whiskies, and there’s no requirement that it has to be topped with club soda alone. In the Green Tea Highball, the whisky is combined with Japan’s most consumed beverage: green tea. The most common type of green tea in the country is sencha, produced by picking only the youngest tea leaves, which are then steamed, rolled and dried. In this highball, the tea adds a bit of body, tannin structure and sweetness to complement the whisky.
One of the benefits of the Green Tea Highball is its versatility. While using a bottle like the affordable and accessible Suntory Toki will make a delightful drink, there’s an opportunity here to try your hand with whatever Japanese whisky you can find. Availability can range wildly for different brands and expressions, but if you can find a favorite and play with combinations using different green teas until it clicks, you may find your new favorite highball recipe.
Another trendy aspect of highballs, especially those made with Japanese whisky, is the use of a long, slender ice spear. However, if you don’t have the mold for it, feel free to use a number of larger ice cubes. The important thing is to avoid too much surface area in order to slow dilution.
Finally, while citrus oils are a common finishing touch for a whisky highball, the Green Tea Highball gets its citrus element from the tea. So instead of a lemon or lime peel, it’s garnished with a maple leaf candy, which provides a sweet treat that can be enjoyed alongside the drink, enhancing the sweetness of the tea and whisky.
Click Play to See This Green Tea Highball Come Together
2 ounces Japanese whisky
2 ounces brewed green tea, cooled
Club soda, chilled, to top
Garnish: maple leaf candy
Add the whisky and tea to a Collins glass with an ice spear or several large cubes and stir to combine.
Top with the club soda.
Garnish with the maple leaf candy.