Don't low-ball the highball

Don't low-ball the highball

After decades of being viewed as your grandfather's cocktail of choice, the highball is back
highballs in Japan
Here's a slightly higher quality highball: Suntory Hakushu single malt and Premium Soda, rather than just Suntory Kaku and soda-gun seltzer.

Old guys in Japan are always lamenting young people's rejection of their iconic old-guy lifestyle, but there's some good news for the gray set: the highball is back.

Yes, after years spent being stereotyped as an old-timey tonic for the retired, the highball -- mixing cheap whiskey with seltzer in a big glass mug -- is cool again.

According to Japan Today article "Highballs are hip again," the number of establishments serving the highball rocketed from 15,000 at the end of 2008 to 40,000 in July 2009. To prove that highballs are indeed 'cool' with the 'kids,' Japan Today tracked down one ragged greenhorn, Hiromi Unagi -- a 38-year-old Osakan -- who claims to like the 'lightness' of the whiskey-soda mix.

Whiskey giant Suntory is credited with pioneering the new highball boom with a TV commercial campaign featuring starlet Koyuki. And as we all know, if something is advertised on TV, the nation is thus entrusted with the grave duty of heading out immediately and trying the product in question. The commercials also do a bang-up job of making the fizzy drink look incredibly refreshing.

The recession also helps, as soda water and Suntory Kaku whiskey are incredibly cheap for both bars and customers alike. Maybe this is just the start of a post-war culture revival: the worse the economy gets, the more our lives will devolve into stereotypes of 1950s impoverished Japan. The highball is the perfect drink for desperate times.