The post-work drinking culture in Japan is vibrant, especially in Tokyo. Step into any hole-in-the-wall bar after 7 pm on a weekday and you’ll be greeted with a cacophony of laughter, conversation and beer mugs clinking. While beer is extremely popular in Japan, the highball is another drink of choice. Unlike Singapore where there are a few spots that offer this concoction, there are entire bars in Tokyo that are dedicated to the drink. Mike Miyamoto, global brand ambassador for Beam Suntory suggests that popularity for the highball increased with the younger generation seeking an alternative to what their fathers preferred (whisky on the rocks or straight-up).
The highball, for the unacquainted, is a drink made with an alcoholic base and a larger proportion of mixer. The most common version is a scotch and soda, but there are also gin and tonic, rum and coke, and other variations. In Japan, the highball is commonly made with the Suntory Kakubin Whisky and soda, and at many bars, this drink is available on tap. Others however, elect to use specialty sodas and single malt whiskies to give the drink a more refined quality.
Speaking to our friends from Beam Suntory, they tell us that it has to do with the fact that the highball is a drink for any occasion. If you’ve had a tough day at the office, you grab a couple of your buddies, head to a casual highball bar and knock back a few while sharing some takoyaki or yaki udon. If you’re celebrating, you’ll want to pair your steak dinner with a highball made with a premium single malt and specialty soda water.
The highball culture in Singapore isn’t big yet, but the trend is picking up. While the Suntory Kakubin Whisky is not available here, there are bars that offer a Jim Beam variation which is slightly sweeter but just as easy to drink. If you’re thinking of trying it for yourself, some of the bars to check out include Kushikatsu Tanaka SG in Clarke Quay, Highball Singapore on Kampong Bahru Road, and Timbre+ at Ayer Rajah Crescent.