February 16, 2019

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It’s Highball Season. Here’s Where to Try Some of the Best in the U.S.

It’s Highball Season. Here’s Where to Try Some of the Best in the U.S.
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Dante. 79-81 Macdougal Street. A whisky highball is a natural fit for this Greenwich Village bar, which focuses on lighter styles of drinking. Bartenders pour one and a half ounces of whiskey into a frozen highball glass, over a long ice spear sourced from Hundredweight, a New York-based custom ice company. They then top it with Perrier and a lemon twist. The whisky used rotates from month to month, so the drink is never be quite the same. “We don’t sell a lot of them but I’m O.K. with that,” said Naren Young, an owner. “I’m just happy that we can list a highball that we’re proud of.” ($13)

Katana Kitten. 531 Hudson Street. Bartender Masahiro Urushido, recently of Saxon and Parole, opened this Japanese-American cocktail bar in July, making it New York’s most current highball destination. The highball menu includes the usual Toki draft, as well as a shiso gin and tonic and a melon-lime soda, made of lime vodka, Midori, matcha and sadachi, a Japanese citrus fruit. ($15)


Longman & Eagle. 2657 North Kedzie Avenue. This popular restaurant and bar, in the trendy Logan Square neighborhood, was one of the first in the city to get a Japanese highball machine and they put it to novel use. Longman serves whiskey highballs, but they’re made with Jim Beam bourbon. The machine carbonates the water to 1.5 times the level of Champagne and serves it up icy cold. Using Beam has its advantages from a consumer viewpoint; the drinks are only $6.


Tongue-Cut Sparrow. 310 South Main Street. Bobby Heugel, the owner of this second-floor quasi-speakeasy, is a Japanophile, having visited the country many times. When he opened Sparrow in 2017, he wanted to offer a highball like those he had enjoyed in Tokyo. Aside from the usual Toki, he zoned in on Mountain Valley Spring Water as matching most closely the waters he drank in Japan. If you can’t get to Sparrow, no worries. Mr. Heugel makes it easy for Houstonians to get their highball on. He serves them in other bars in his citywide mini-empire, including Better Luck Tomorrow and Anvil Bar and Refuge. ($14)

San Francisco

Pacific Cocktail Haven. 580 Sutter Street. The owner Kevin Diedrich, a longtime presence in San Francisco’s cocktail community, offers a highball happy hour seven days a week at his cocktail bar. It includes the whiskey and sodas that come out of his Toki highball machine. “The Suntory Toki highball is the most popular,” he said. “We keep all our highball glasses in the freezer to keep extra cold and use long ice spears. The soda also comes from the highball machine, which I’ve found is superior to any bottled soda water out there.” ($10 during happy hour.)

Nihon Whisky Lounge. 1779 Folsom Street. Nihon boasts one of the widest selections of Japanese whiskeys in the United States. So, while it has the Toki highball machine, it also offers many of its other whiskeys to customers in highball form as well. “A favorite we like to recommend is Hakushu 12-year-old highball,” said owner Khaled Dajani. (A Toki highball is $12 and half that during happy hour.)

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