On Nov. 14, Tokyo’s metropolitan train system’s management issued a public apology for a train leaving a station 20 seconds ahead of its scheduled time during that morning’s rush hour. If you needed an illustration of how precision is the keystone of Japanese culture, there you have it. That exactness is the modus operandi that lead bartender James Cleland has captured in his precision-engineered highball on offer at Uni, Ken Oringer and Tony Messina’s izakaya in the Eliot Hotel. More a ritual than just a drink in Japan, bartenders have various ways of putting their personal stamp on highballs, a seemingly unfussy combination of whiskey and soda water. Cleland enhances the basic combo with flourishes like bitters and green tea liqueur, but that’s not what makes it stand out. The key is in the bubbles, he says, so he opts for a sparkling spring water instead of club soda. The softer, gentler bubbles give the drink a velvety mouthfeel. It’s precisely what you don’t expect.
OOLONG! THAT’S GOOD
Makes 1 drink
1¼ ounces bourbon
1 ounce Cheongsian Green Tea Liqueur
¾ ounce falernum
2 dashes orange bitters
Premium sparkling water, to top.
1. In a Collins glass over ice, pour bourbon, liqueur, falernum, and orange bitters, in that order.
2. Top with premium sparkling water.
Adapted from Uni