japanese highball and sushi with chopsticks

Pairing Sushi with Whiskey Cocktails: A Tasty Combination

Sushi making is a time honored tradition, one that involves techniques that are just as delicate as the flavors that come across on the plate. Much goes into preserving those flavors, and it’s important that you choose a cocktail that will complement them without overpowering them. Robyn Smith, PhD, whiskey expert and Founder of This Blog’s NEAT, is just the person to help you pick. According to her, the ultimate cocktail pairing for sushi is a classic Japanese highball.

“The subtle flavors from the Japanese whisky along with sparkling water make it a light and effervescent cocktail, which is an ideal pairing for the delicate flavors of sushi,” Smith explained. In fact, one of the reasons why the highball cocktail is so popular in Japan is because the bubbles act like a palate cleanser between courses. But that doesn’t mean you can’t spice the cocktail up every now and then.

Use tea pairings to complement your Japanese highball and sushi

cold matcha whiskey highball

When it comes to pairing sushi with other takes on the classic Japanese highball, Smith recommended a recipe that involves the St. George’s Baller single malt whiskey, cold black tea, honey syrup, and sparkling water. Like sushi, the tea found in this highball is another Japanese specialty. It also just so happens that tea is commonly served alongside sushi to bring out the flavors of the fish. While green and white teas are traditionally served with more delicate fish, the black tea in this highball works particularly with a fattier fish like tuna or mackerel.

Following suit, you could also go for a Japanese highball made with green or white tea to further complement the flavors of sushi made with lighter fish like salmon or whitefish. Matcha is a popular ingredient on cocktail menus and, thanks to its umami flavor, it’d work great with sushi in a Japanese highball. You can do the same with a cold brewed green tea like sencha, which pairs particularly well with seabeam — with or without lemon and honey depending on if you prefer the sweetness.

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Genmaicha and hojicha are examples of green teas that can pair well with fattier fish because of the woody and toasted notes they carry. You can add either one into your highball recipe by brewing and chilling them, making a hojicha tea syrup, or buying them in bottles from your local asian grocery store.

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