What The Name Mizuwari Means
The mizuwari is an iconic Japanese cocktail and it mean 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 little water to open up the flavors. The difference here is how much the whiskey is cut 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 have a similar soul to them. They have a clean clear whiskey flavor but are not overpowering like a short old fashion style whiskey cocktail is. They are refreshing like a collins or rickey but without any of the extra flavors the collins or rickey bring. They are clean, easy to drink cocktails with whiskey being the only unobstructed flavor. The mizuwari is a bit easier 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
The mizuwari is all about technique. Its just two ingredients (3 including the ice) but if combined properly those two ingredients can become something very good. So the most important part of making a mizuwari is the whole making of it. Its 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 works (they are all pretty similar anyway). Thats because the drink needs the heavy wide base to hold extra coldness, and the straight sides make stirring easier. pint glasses are fine but they taper to a smaller base which means 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. If the glass is not chilled stir the ice to cool the glass and dump the water that has melted off. Also the ice is very important. This is the ice served with the drink so it should be hard, clear, and very cold ice. All of this is done to dilute the whiskey as little as possible before adding the water. Obviously if you are adding water you are diluting it but the reason it preferable to dilute it as little as possible before adding water is it helps maintain the whiskey to water ratio you serve it at longer. If you combine the whiskey and water at a 1-2.5 ratio and then add ice then the ice will melt and change the ratio to something like 1-3 or more. If you do it the preferable way then you are able to see how much water was added chilling the whiskey and add 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 your concern is preserving the carbonation with cooler temperatures which 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 it was already lengthened by the melting ice. Your aim is balance and opening up the flavors so a more strongly 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 a good tasting filtered water. You’re not adding juice or syrups so there is nothing to mask bad water or bad 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 couple times to evenly mix the drink. A lot of work for a simple 2 ingredient drink right?