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The Japanese Highball is a bubbly cocktail starring Japanese whiskey and sparkling water! It’s impressive and easy to drink.

Japanese highball
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Got Japanese whisky? Let’s make a highball! The Japanese Highball is a variation on the Whiskey Highball using Japanese whisky, ode to the country’s fascination with drinking these tall, bubbly drinks. Highballs are popular in Japan since they make conveniently low alcohol cocktails that are easy to sip. Combine liquor with bubbly sparkling water, and you’ve got a refreshing drink that helps you consume alcohol a little more slowly. This one’s a great way to enjoy your favorite Japanese whisky. Here’s how to make it!

What’s a Japanese Highball?

The Japanese Highball is a highball cocktail, part of a family of drinks that pair liquor with a larger portion of a non-alcoholic mixer (like tonic water or club soda). It’s essentially a Whiskey Highball, made with Japanese whisky. The whiskey highball was born in the early 1900’s and initially combined Scotch whiskey with soda water, called “scotch and soda.” You can order any type of highball in Japan, but it’s popular with Japanese whisky. The ingredients for a Japanese Highball are:

  • 1 part Japanese whisky
  • 4 parts club soda or soda water
  • Lemon wedge
Japanese highball

More about Japanese whisky

What’s Japanese whisky, and how is it different from other types? We’ve got answers. Here’s what to know:

  • Whiskey is a family of distilled liquor made by fermenting grain mash: wheat, rye, barley or corn. It’s then aged in wooden barrels, usually made of oak.
  • Some popular types of whiskey are Bourbon (a type of American whiskey), Rye whiskey (American or Canadian whisky), Irish whiskey, and Scotch, aka Scotch whisky.
  • Japanese whisky is a style of whiskey developed and produced in Japan. It’s closest in flavor and production method to Scotch whisky. This similarity is also why the Japanese version is spelled “whisky” instead of “whiskey.” If you like a good Scotch, you’ll love Japanese whisky.
  • What does it taste like? Japanese whisky has a dry, fruity, and smoky flavor. The finish is mellow, with notes of oak.

What to use for sparkling water: club soda vs seltzer

Once you’ve got your Japanese whisky, all you need is sparkling water, aka soda water. There are lots of different names for this type of carbonated mixed when you go to show. Here are some of the differences between club soda vs seltzer, and what you should and shouldn’t look for for this recipe:

  • Soda water aka seltzer is carbonated water with no additives — straight up bubbles!
  • Club soda is carbonated water infused with added minerals, which give it a salty, lightly sweet flavor. It’s great in cocktails (try these club soda cocktails).
  • Tonic water is carbonated water with added quinine and sugar. Don’t use it here: but you can use it to make a Whiskey Tonic!
Japanese highball cocktail

How to make the best Japanese highball

How to make the best Japanese highball? Some recipes claim that an official Japanese highball has to be stirred 13.5 times clockwise. However, our research couldn’t find any proof this was the traditional way to do it. (Feel free to let us know if you have more clues in the comments below.) But we do have a few tips on how to make this a great drink:

  • Use clear ice. Clear ice is crystal clear, versus the cloudy ice that comes out of an ice tray. You can make it in a small cooler and cut it into large, organic chunks. It makes the drink look like it came from a fancy bar, and in our opinion it cools a drink better.
  • Use a great whisky. A good mid-priced Japanese whisky is Mars Iwai 45. (We used Nikka Coffee Grain Whisky here, but it’s on the pricier side.)

There are so many great highball cocktails that mix liquor with a bubbly mixer! Here are some of our favorites:

Japanese whisky

When to serve a Japanese Highball

The Japanese Highball is bubbly and whiskey-forward, perfect for anytime. It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Summer drink
  • Before dinner drink (aperitif)
  • Cocktail hour drink
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Japanese Highball

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
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The Japanese Highball is a bubbly cocktail starring Japanese whiskey and sparkling water! It’s impressive and easy to drink.


  • 2 ounces* Japanese whiskey, chilled if time allows
  • 8 ounces soda water (or less, if desired)
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)


  1. Squeeze the lemon wedge into a highball glass.
  2. Add the ice and whiskey and stir with a bar spoon until chilled. Top with soda water and serve.


*To convert to tablespoons, 1 tablespoon = 2 ounces

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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