The Art of Japanese Highball

Suntory Whisky Kakubin Brings the Kodawari Experience to Thailand

Suntory Whisky’s “The Art of Japanese Highball,” a vintage vinyl music and tasting event featuring a range of Kakubin Highballs crafted by Japanese bartender, Mr Kenta Arai, at The Japanese Highball Bar 1923 Krung Thep.

The heart and soul of each handcrafted highball is Suntory Whisky Kakubin. Blended in 1937, it was the first whisky that the Japanese wholeheartedly embraced, thanks to its distinct flavours and subtle aromas. And to this day, Kakubin remains Japan’s most loved, number one bestselling whisky.

The nickname “Kakubin” itself, meaning “square bottle” was bestowed by Japanese whisky lovers as a nod to the rather unusual square-cut, tortoise-shell design, inspired by the traditional Japanese craft of cut glass.

The highball is a simple drink. But as with all things Japanese, there is an art to this deceptive simplicity. The ratio of the whisky to mixer, the ice you use, the type of soda, temperature, garnish and even the design of the glass – the tiniest details matter in crafting the perfect Japanese highball.

And that’s where kodawari comes in. Kodawari is the uniquely Japanese spirit of relentless and uncompromising dedication to perfection. For bartenders like Mr Kenta Arai, a Japanese bartender who runs his own speakeasy bar in Ginza and who will be guest bartending at the event, kodawari means approaching every aspect of the creation of a highball with an almost ritualistic, zen-like focus.

“Highball is a very simple cocktail – just whiskey and soda. So it’s very important to think about how both elements balance each other. For me, it’s choosing a soda water that complements the character of the whisky, and helps to convey its unique personality.”

Said by Mr Kenta Arai, guest bartender at “The Art of Japanese Highball”

To highlight the versatility of Suntory Whisky Kakubin, Mr Kenta Arai has crafted five highballs and three cocktails for the event. The drinks are a mix of classic and unexpected flavours that meld both Japanese and Thai ingredients, and run the gamut from sweet to spicy to smoky:


  • Suntory “Kaku” Highball (Kaku-hi), the original and most-loved highball in Japan that showcases the delicate complexity of Kakubin whisky
  • Ibushi, a showstopper of a drink imbued with applewood smoke and the fruity acidity of ponzu
  • Wagashi, a sweet cocktail that’s balanced by the astringency of black sesame and a sprinkle of soybean flour
  • Nojun, with a hit of spicy black pepper and kaffir lime leaf that complement the subtle spicy notes in Kakubin whisky
  • Yipunthai, a complex mix of tart and sweet nuttiness that combines the iconic flavours of sweet Thai tea with Japanese ponzu, sake and shichimi pepper


  • Chawari, an intriguing combination of matcha and fragrant lemongrass cuts across the drink’s tart notes
  • Hojicha Godfather, a shaken hojicha-infused Kakubin with coconut cream, finished with barley shavings – the perfect thé au lait for grownups
  • KakuBoy, a Japanese twist on the Cowboy, augmented by the sweetness of ground white sesame seeds and amazake (fermented rice)

The Event was held at The Japanese Highball Bar 1923 Krung Thep, The Commons Thonglor.

The perfect highball calls for the perfect venue to enjoy it. And there’s none more suitable than The Japanese Highball Bar 1923 Krung Thep, named for the year when the Suntory “Yamazaki” Whisky Distillery was founded and Japanese whisky was born.