What Does Mizuwari Mean?
The mizuwari is an iconic Japanese cocktail, and it means to cut with water. Cutting whiskey with water is nothing unique to this cocktail, as even in traditional Irish whiskey, drinking the whiskey is cut with a bit of water to open up the flavors. The difference here is how much the whiskey is thinned with water. Many whiskey drinkers will use just the water that melts off the ice, or some will add a single ounce of water, but the mizuwari is massive, a 1-2 or 1-2.5 ratio of whiskey to water.
Why Drink a Mizuwari?
The mizuwari and Japanese highball has a similar soul to them. They have a clean, unmistakable whiskey flavor but are not overpowering like a short, old-fashioned whiskey cocktail. They are refreshing like a collins or rickey, but without any extra flavors the collins or rickey bring. They are clean, easy-to-drink cocktails, with whiskey the only unobstructed flavor. The mizuwari is more accessible to drink than the highball as it does not even have carbonation. But do not be mistaken. This is not just water added to whiskey. If done right, this can be a great cocktail. If done wrong, this can be the flattest and saddest drink.
The Most Important Part To Making a Mizuwari.
The mizuwari is all about technique. It’s just two ingredients (3 including the ice), but those two ingredients can become something delicious if appropriately combined. So the essential part of making a mizuwari is the process of how it is made. It’s similar to making a Japanese highball but just a little bit simpler.
1). Start with a chilled glass. Stemware matters too. A highball, collins, or zombie glass will work too (they are all pretty similar anyway). The drink needs a heavy broad base to hold extra coldness, and the straight sides make stirring easier. Pint glasses are fine, but they taper to a smaller base, meaning less cold surface area to whiskey ratio. Next, add your ice, and since the glass is already chilled, there is no need to use the ice to chill it. Suppose the glass is not chilled. Stir the ice to cool the glass and dump the water that has melted off. Also, the ice is vital. This is the ice served with the drink, so it should be challenging, clear, and freezing ice. This is done to dilute the whiskey as little as possible before adding the water. If you are adding water, you are diluting it. Still, it is preferable to cut it as little as possible before adding water because it helps maintain the whiskey to water ratio you serve it at length. If you combine the whiskey and water at a 1-2.5 ratio and then add ice, the ice will melt and change the ratio to something like 1-3 or more. If you do it the preferable way, you can see how much water was added by chilling the whiskey and adding more or less water as needed and not have melting ice change that ratio.
2). Next, add your whiskey and stir for maybe 10 seconds. This is to cool the whiskey down to near freezing so that once you add the water, the ratio is not changed while the ice melts and cools the drink to near freezing. When preparing a Japanese highball, you are concerned about preserving the carbonation with cooler temperatures that you do not need to worry about here. This part is just to protect the water to whiskey ratio.
3). Next, add the refrigerated water. The typical ratio is 1 part whiskey to 2 – 2.5 parts chilled water. You’ll want to vary this based on how strongly flavored the whiskey is and how much the melting ice already lengthened it. You aim to balance and open up the flavors, so a more intensely flavored whiskey may want 5oz water to 2oz whiskey, and a more subtle whiskey would work better with 4oz soda water to 2oz whiskey. Know the whiskey and add what you think will make it taste better. Also, use good-tasting filtered water. You’re not adding juice or syrups, so there is nothing to mask lousy water or ice.
4). Finally, give it a few last stirs to mix. Although don’t just turn the spoon in a circle but bring it to the bottom and pull the whiskey up into the water. Do this just a couple of times to evenly mix the drink. A lot of work for a simple two-ingredient drink, right?