Whiskey is incredibly popular in Japan, and Japanese whisky (they spell it without the “e”) is increasingly making its mark around the world. The spirit often mirrors scotch in its production method, and the best examples rival the best scotches and deserve to be sipped neat. But given Japan’s impressive cocktail culture, it’s no surprise that whiskey often finds its way into cocktails, both elaborate and simple, like the Highball Mizuwari.
Mizuwari translates to “cut with water” and describes a traditional way of drinking whiskey in Japan, where Highballs are prolific. Adding sparkling water to whiskey lets you taste the flavors without consuming it straight.
As with most Highballs, the quality of the ice used and the temperature of the glass, whiskey and water are essential for optimizing the cocktail. But this ritual is more involved than combining the two liquids. The Highball Mizuwari demands perfect technique and attention to detail in order to boost the flavors and the effervescence, rendering this simple drink so satisfying.
The whiskey and ice must be stirred 13 and a half times (yes, exactly 13 and a half). After adding the water, you stir it another three and a half times. That’s 17 total stirs, for those who lost count. It’s debatable whether stirring 16 or 18 times would make much difference, but the mizuwari ritual is fun, and it’s a glimpse into the serious, meticulous nature of bartending in Japan. So, the next time you make a Highball, count your stirs and enjoy the results.
1 1/2 ounces Japanese whisky
3 ounces sparkling water
Stack several large ice cubes in a Highball glass.
Pour the Japanese whisky into the glass and slowly stir it 13 and a half times.
Top off the ice, then add the sparkling water.
Stir three and a half more times to finish the drink.
Scotch & Soda: The classic two-part cocktail you can order anywhere.
Green Tea Highball: Japanese whisky and sparkling water are joined by green tea.
Haiballer: Japanese whisky and shochu get a kick of flavor from apple soda and aromatic bitters.
Ginger Ale Highball: Rye whiskey with ginger ale adds spicy sweetness to the classic drink template.