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Highball Bar Crawl: Discovering the Best Whisky Soda in New York

By John McCarthy

The highball is among the world's simplest cocktails. Whisky, soda water and citrus peel is all that's required, and even the peel is optional. But leave it to the Japanese to raise the no-brainer concoction to an art form. The perfect ice, carbonation management, and whisky-to-water ratio are all areas of hot debate amongst Japanese mixologists who have been pursuing highball nirvana since the drink became fashionable in the 1950's. When Suntory Toki hosted a NYC bar crawl in search of the Best Highball in Manhattan, I joined the search team. What we discovered was more than just a whiskey soda. Click through for how it went down.

EN Japanese Brasserie 1

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: EN Japanese Brasserie

FIRST STOP: EN Japanese Brasserie

435 Hudson St (West Village)


Open Saturday and Sunday 11:00AM - 2:30PM, 5:30PM - 11:30PM; Monday through Thursday 12:00PM - 2:30PM, 5:30PM - 10:30PM; Friday 12:00PM - 2:30PM, 5:30PM - 11:30PM

The adventure started strong at EN Japanese Brasserie in the West Village with kick ass Shiso (Japanese mint) highballs served alongside crispy fried chicken and shrimp dumplings. EN's well curated saké list is as impressive as their Japanese whiskies, and the cozy tables are perfect for date night.

Dante 2


79-81 MacDougal Street (Greenwich Village)


Open daily at 10:00AM

The next stop was Danté NYC in Little Italy. Their award winning bar crew's classic riff began with a crystal-clear plug of ice, a fat wedge of grapefruit peel, and a good hit of alcohol. The extra whisky amped up the typical 1:3 water/booze ratio, providing a more bracing quaff. Prepare to wait if you roll in for dinner, especially during peak hours. But drinks at the bar are always flowing.

Ippudo Ramen 3

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Ippudo


65 4th Ave (East Village)


Open Sunday 11:00AM–10:30PM; Monday through Thursday 11:00AM - 3:30PM, 5:00PM - 11:30PM; Friday 11:00AM - 3:30PM, 5:00PM - 12:30PM; Saturday 11:00AM - 11:30PM

There's only one reason people wait for hours to be seated at Ippudo—Ramen. But it turns out the most famous tonkotsu ramen shop in the world also makes a strong whiskey-soda, too. The crisp classic served with a slice of lemon peel dovetailed beautifully with the silky noodles and rich broth. But let's face it, the drinks were an afterthought once the food came.

Elephant Bar 4

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: The NoMad Hotel

LAST STOP: The NoMad Hotel’s Elephant Bar

10 West 28th Street (NoMad)


After stuffing ourselves at Ippudo, the evening's swan song was light bites and yes, more whisky, at The NoMad Hotel's Elephant Bar, a major player in the NYC nightlife scene. A charcuterie board and raw veggies paired beautifully with the evening's last Highball, which they spiked with Toki, Jasmine, peach essence, and verjus—the juice from unripe, unfermented grapes for a hint of acid. 


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