Highballs hip again in Tokyo

The highball -- that favorite of austere Japan of the 1950s -- is back in fashion again as the country again pulls itself together, this time from the economic recession.

(Relaxnews) -

The highball - that favorite of austere Japan of the 1950s - is back in fashion again as the country again pulls itself together, this time from the economic recession.

After being looked-down upon for decades as being neither hip nor sophisticated, the highball was resurrected by whisky giant Suntory Liquors last year with a television campaign aimed at younger drinkers.

The result was the Kaku highball, featuring actress Koyuki downing one of the company's Kakubin whisky and soda concoctions.

The result was an instant increase in the number of people ordering cheap and cheerful highballs, and while just 15,000 bars were serving the drink at the end of last year, that figure has rocketed to an estimated 40,000 establishments today, according to Suntory.

And for anyone who does not want to go out for a drink, the company is also selling pre-mixed whisky-and-soda drinks in bottles or cans that are available from convenience stores and liquor shops.

"Kaku highballs are a popular way to enjoy whisky every day with meals," Suntory said in a statement. "Suntory plans to promote model environments for enjoying whisky to make the experience even more familiar to consumers, in addition to organizing Kaku highball events and encouraging whisky-and-soda cocktails."

The promotion drive is apparently working; sales in the first six months of the year were reportedly 25 percent up on the same period in the previous year.

The drink is reportedly very popular with women drinkers as it is lighter and less harsh than straight whisky or when it is served with water, with many consumers commenting that a highball slips down as easily as a beer. And served with ice, highballs were also a hit during Japan's long, hot summer.

The humble highball was initially a hit in the 1950s thanks to Japanese companies getting the knack of producing high-quality whisky.

Bartenders in Japan are also putting together slightly different takes on the highball, such as serving the Kaku highball with a dash of ginger ale or cola or the Samboa highball, with chilled whisky and soda served with no ice but a twist of lemon.

JR

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