Over at The Container Japanese Wagyu Tapas & Cocktail Bar, their version of the highball uses wagyu whisky as the star ingredient. Here, a smoky Nikka Taketsuru pure malt is fat-washed with the left over beef fat from the wagyu dishes, then finished off with a spritz of yuzu so diners get that first whiff of citrus.
Play nice with the ice
The bar also pays close attention to how they make their ice here, a key element to getting the drink down pat. Says restaurant manager Alex Avramov: "The bubbles are crucial in the highball, so the water you use to make the ice cubes should ideally be natural mineral water. The ice cubes should be medium-sized, small enough to fit the glass but not too small so the highball doesn't become diluted too fast."
At Bar High Five in Tokyo, master bartender Hidetsugu Ueno is also particular about the type of ice served in his bar.
Don't forget the soda
While ice might be important, another key element to creating a good highball is the soda water used. Chua Khoon Hui, co-owner of Quaich Bar, says: "A good highball should be a refreshing drink. Rather than the type or shape of ice, what is more important is that the soda must be fresh (bubbly) and cold, so that the drink remains chilled. If the soda is cold, there is no worry about dilution or making the drink flat (not sparkling)."
It also takes skill to make sure all the right ingredients are stirred up correctly. For instance, how you pour the soda water also makes a difference to the type of highball you end up with. "You must pour it with no wave, fast enough between ice and inside of glassware so you don't really need to stir to mix it," says Ueno.
"At Quaich Bar, we use 45ml of good whisky (honeyed, malty, citrus notes work best), poured into a highball glass filled with ice, before we pour in about 120ml of Schweppes soda water," says Chua.
With highballs as good as these, save the whisky on the rocks for after dinner. This cocktail has gone past dive bar standards to come into its own.