In Japan, two drinks reign supreme: whisky and tea. So when bar manager Gillian Tyrnauaer and mixologist Scott Beattie met to create the cocktail menu for Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol, California, it only made sense to bring the two together into a version of Japan’s third favorite beverage, the Whisky Highball.
Ramen Gaijin’s cocktail menu features three green tea-infused Whisky Highballs, each made simply with house-infused green tea whisky, soda water, ice and a seaweed garnish. “They’re super food-friendly—and not all cocktails are,” Tyrnauaer says. “There’s no sweetness or acidity but there is a light umami quality. They’re tasty alone, but really shine with food.”
Tyrnauaer uses the same whisky for all of her infusions, Akashi White Oak, which she chose for its medium body and naturally savory qualities. Currently, there are three infusions on the menu made with three different teas: sencha (a bright, grassy tea), houjicha (a roasted tea with nutty, toasty notes) and genmaicha (a green tea with toasted brown rice). For Tyrnauaer, a Highball made with the houjicha-infused whisky is best with a main course—something rich and fatty like ramen—while the other two pair better with appetizers like skewered grilled meats and pickles.
As for the seaweed garnish, Tyrnauaer likes the brininess it adds to the cocktail. She opts for sea palm, which grows locally along the Sonoma Coast. “It’s harmonious,” she says of the cocktail in its finished form.
Here, how to make your own green tea-infused whisky and a green tea-infused Whisky Highball.
Green Tea-Infused Whiskey
32-oz Mason jar
1 750-ml bottle Japanese whisky such as Akashi White Oak
18 grams loose green tea such as sencha, houjicha or genmaicha
- Pour the whisky into a large glass jar.
- Pour in the loose tea and stir, briefly.
- Steep for 45 minutes.
- Strain the tea out of the whisky.
Green Tea-Infused Whisky Highball
1.5 oz green tea-infused whisky
2 oz soda water
Sea palm, for garnish
- Pour the whiskey into a 12-oz glass and fill with ice.
- Stir about 30 times.
- Add more ice and top with sparkling water. Garnish with a strip of sea palm.