12 Best Japanese Whisky Cocktails

Teddy Francisco
Last Updated on
by Teddy Francisco

From a nation that’s well known for its shochu, Japanese whisky cocktails are fast becoming the most sought-after drink among enthusiasts. Unlike American whiskey, Japanese whisky is made to blend well with water, releasing a barrel of flavors upon dilution.

Japanese whisky makers borrowed a leaf from their Scottish counterparts. This explains why Japanese whisky cocktails and Scotch whisky cocktails taste alike, but the former tastes better. Also, there’s an omission of the “E” in the spelling, indicating that Japanese whisky is different from Irish or American brands.

12 Japanese Whisky Cocktails

If you’re ready to delve into something new, let’s introduce you to some of the best Japanese whisky cocktails.

Japanese Whisky Cocktails

Here’s a rundown of our Japanese whisky cocktails:

  • Japanese Whisky Highball
  • Yuzu Whisky Sour Cocktail
  • The Black Ship
  • Nail in the Coffin
  • Nippon Cocktail
  • The Red Akuma
  • The Whisky Smash
  • The Beast
  • Strawberry Samurai
  • Toki Americano
  • Matcha Highball
  • Harajuku Cocktail

1. Japanese Whisky Highball

Japanese Whisky Highball

The Japanese Highball is a refreshing drink that’s commonly served in Japanese bars. Its canned version is readily available in vending machines and convenience stores.

What makes the drink stand out is the technique bartenders use to ensure precision, an indication that Japanese whisky cocktails are an art, not just a drink. You can make the best Japanese whisky cocktails at home, whether you’re a bartender or not.


  • 1 ounce Suntory Toki Whisky
  • 2 – 4 ounces sparkling water or soda water
  • Handmade clear ice cubes
  • Garnish: lemon slices

In a highball glass, add ice and stir for 30 seconds or until the glass is chilled. Drain water from the glass, then add whisky and stir 13.5 times in a clockwise direction. Use a bar spoon to lift the ice cubes, then pour sparkling water down the spoon’s rivet so that it gets to the base of the drink. Stir 3.5 times clockwise and garnish with lemon slices.

2. Yuzu Whisky Sour Cocktail

Yuzu Whisky Sour Cocktail

This popular Japanese whisky cocktail incorporates whisky, citrus, egg white, and sweetener. For citrus, we’ll use yuzu, also known as Japanese citron. It has a tart flavor that’s similar to lemon, grapefruit, and mandarin. Also, we’ll squeeze in some fresh lemon juice to spike the tartness and then balance it with honey or simple syrup.


  • 2 ounces Japanese whisky
  • ½ ounce yuzu juice
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce yuzu-infused honey
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 dash Angostura bitters

Dry shake the first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker for 10 seconds. Add some ice cubes and shake again for 10 to 15 seconds. Double-strain the drink into a chilled glass and garnish with Angostura bitters.

3. The Black Ship

The Black Ship Coctail

In history, Matthew Perry led the Black Ships to Tokyo Bay and presented America’s finest whiskey to the Emperor. This event led to the opening of an isolated Japan. Later, Japanese distillers went ahead to make blended whisky and single malt whisky, and this recipe is named to mark the moment.


  • 1 ½ ounces Japanese whisky
  • 1 ounce homemade pomegranate juice
  • ¼ ounce Port wine
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice

Pour whisky, pomegranate juice, wine, and lemon juice into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a strip of lemon zest.

4. Nail in the Coffin

Nail in the Coffin

Patrons who have had a taste of Rusty Nail will appreciate the twist in this classic Japanese whisky recipe. It combines Licor 43, a Spanish liqueur, and Madeira, a fortified wine from Portugal, with Japanese whisky and Fernet Branca, a blend of herbs known for its bitter taste.

Although you can drink the Nail in the Coffin at any time of the day, it’s best consumed at night after a meal.


  • 1 ½ ounces Japanese whisky
  • ¾ ounce dry Madeira
  • ½ ounce Licor 43
  • ¼ ounce Fernet Branca

Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain the drink into a coupe glass and garnish with black cardamom shavings.

5. Nippon Cocktail

Best served as an aperitif, the Nippon cocktail is easy to prepare as it only requires stirring and straining. It strikes a balance between whisky and Sweet Vermouth and features delicate notes of ginger.


  • 1 ½ ounces Japanese whisky
  • 1 ounces Sweet Vermouth
  • ¼ ounce ginger liqueur

Stir the whisky, vermouth, and liqueur in a mixing glass containing ice and then strain into a chilled coupe glass. You can either serve the drink plain or tie a lemongrass leaf into a knot for garnishing.

6. The Red Akuma

The Red Akuma

Spicy margarita lovers will enjoy the burst of flavors from the Red Akuma. The drink starts with the tangy taste of citrus and then hits your throat with the heat from Jalapeño pepper. You should give it a try if you’re up for an adventure.


  • 2 ounces Japanese whisky
  • 2 ounces blood orange juice
  • ½ ounce agave syrup
  • 1 Jalapeño, chopped

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake until ice cold. Strain the drink into a chilled rocks glass.

7. The Whisky Smash

Whiskey Smash

A great Whisky Smash compresses lemon wedges to extract the oils and juices. It also adds fresh mint leaves to create the perfect combo that even a first-time whisky drinker can’t resist. The drink is as refreshing as its cocktail cousin, Mint Julep.


  • 7 mint leaves
  • 3 lemon wedges
  • 2 ounces Japanese whisky
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Garnishing: mint sprig

Muddle mint leaves and lemon wedges with simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and pour vodka over it, then shake vigorously until chilled. Add crushed ice to a serving glass, pour the drink, stir, then add more ice. You can garnish the drink with fresh mint sprigs.

8. The Beast

The Beast

This fruity Japanese whisky cocktail makes a perfect summer drink, ideal for pool parties and backyard BBQs. It’s an easy crowd-pleaser and isn’t difficult to whip up. Also, the recipe includes bitters to smoothen the sweet-sour taste.


  • 2 ounces Japanese whisky
  • 2 cubes sugar
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • 1 orange wheel
  • 1 lemon wheel
  • 1 lime wheel
  • 4 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 1 splash club soda

Muddle the sugar cubes with Angostura bitters, cherry, citrus wheels, and simple syrup in a mixing glass. Fill it with ice cubes, add whisky, and stir to combine. Top up the drink with club soda and garnish with a cocktail cherry and lemon or lime wheel.

9. Strawberry Samurai

Strawberry Samurai

Filled with flavors, the Strawberry Samurai cocktail is a blend of complementing elements. It introduces rice wine vinegar as a replacement for the regular citrus ingredients. Also, the recipe tones down the acidity of the vinegar using strawberry syrup, cardamom bitters, and Liquore Strega, a liqueur that lends its bright yellow color to the cocktail.


  • 1 ½ ounces Hatozaki whisky
  • ¾ ounce strawberry syrup
  • ½ ounce rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ ounce Strega Liqueur
  • 2 drops of cardamom bitters

Combine the whisky, syrup, vinegar, liqueur, and cardamom bitters in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously until ice cold, then strain the drink into a chilled glass and garnish with a whole strawberry.

10. Toki Americano

Toki Americano

When Japan dines with Italy, it results in a delightful aperitivo. In this unexpected combination, Toki Americano brings together the savory, sweet, and bitter in one glass.


  • 1 ½ ounces Suntory Toki
  • ¾ ounce Amaro Nonino
  • ¾ ounce Cocchi Americano
  • 1 dash of grapefruit bitters

Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass and throw in some ice cubes. Stir to combine until it’s chilled. Strain the drink into a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon wheel.

11. Matcha Highball

Matcha Highball

Originally served as tea in Japan, this recipe makes a bold statement by including matcha in a whisky cocktail. Because green tea has a slightly grassy and bitter taste, you should add honey or simple syrup.


  • 2 ounces Hibiki whisky
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon matcha powder
  • Chilled club soda

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add the first four ingredients. Shake for about 10 seconds to combine. Strain the drink into an ice-filled tall glass. Pour a little club soda into the shaker and swirl to loosen lumps of matcha that may be stuck at the base. Again, strain the remainder into the glass and stir. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

12. Harajuku Cocktail

Harajuku Cocktail

This flavor-filled cocktail is a blend of floral notes, bitter-sweet aperitifs, and a hint of chocolate. Although it’s a complex combination, the Harajuku is easy to drink. Also, you can easily make it at home if you’ve got the ingredients.


  • 1 ounce Nikka Coffey Grain
  • 1 ounce Byrrh Quinquina
  • 1 ounce Gran Classico Bitters
  • 2 dashes of chocolate bitters

Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass containing crushed ice, then stir to combine. Add a large crystal clear ice block into a chilled glass and then strain the drink over it. You can garnish it with a strip of orange zest.


Japanese whisky cocktails are easy to whip up and best enjoyed with a group of friends screaming “Kanpai” as they take a sip. If you plan to try any of these recipes, we recommend getting creative with the measurements to find a blend that suits your taste.

Do let us know your favorite Japanese whisky cocktail in the comment section. You can also check out our other cocktail recipes ideal for summer, holidays, and every other season.

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Teddy Francisco
Teddy Francisco
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