Before we get into our Hana Hana Highball recipe, let’s first talk about what highballs are and why they’re so popular. Highballs are originally a whisky cocktail that began in the early 1900s. They blew up in popularity in Japan around the 1920’s and lost a little steam around the 90’s. Where it all started is still something of a mystery, but you can read all about the complicated history of highballs here.
With whisky highballs as popular as they were, it wasn’t long before shochu makers took the highball and made it their own. The cocktail became so popular, in fact, that the term “Chu-hi” (shoCHU + HIghball) was born. Now, Chu-hi has been adapted to mean almost any simple shochu and mixer cocktail.
What is a Highball?
So, what is a highball exactly and why do we at Nankai love it so much? On the surface, it’s a simple cocktail: 1 part spirit and 3-4 parts soda water over ice. Its simplicity is part of why we love it– you can make it at home and it’s easy for restaurant/bar staff to serve it up. But more importantly, the ice and the carbonation really open up the shochu’s flavors while making it incredibly refreshing. Of course, in the hands of a master bartender it is hardly a simple cocktail, and more a meditation in precision and tradecraft. The expertly-made highball requires high quality ice and super carbonated soda water, as well as the patience to pour and stir properly.
With that out of the way, please try and share the recipe for a Hana Hana Highball, which is how many enjoy black sugar shochu, like Nankai Shochu, on Amami Island, Japan. “Hana Hana” is a reference to how we toast on the island. “Hana” means “flower,” and the toast means, “A flower for you, and a flower for this moment.” It’s a beautiful sentiment that embraces the value of sharing moments together. It’s something I’m sure we all can appreciate more these days.
Hana Hana, everyone.
Hana Hana Highball
- 2 oz Nankai Shochu/Gold
- 4 oz Soda Water Highly carbonated is preferred.
- ⅓ Lemon
- Add 1 oz of Nankai and 4 oz soda water into a collins glass over ice.
- Squeeze lemon juice into glass.
- Add remaining shochu into glass.
- Stir well and serve.