As Japanese whisky takes the spirits world by storm, seek out these cool cocktail spots to sample the good stuff.
“The Japanese have been making serious noise in the world of whisky over the course of the last decade.” —Brandon A. Ratcliffe
After spending a spectacular week in three Japanese cities—Tokyo, Sapporo and Sendai—this past spring with Nikka Whisky Distilling Co., one of the world’s top producers of the lavish spirit, I am more convinced than ever that the moment has finally arrived for Japanese whisky to get the credit it so richly deserves in Philadelphia, and clearly, I’m not alone.
Top restaurants and bars across the region have begun stocking their beverage programs with excellent bottlings from producers around Japan, and with good reason. “The Japanese have been making serious noise in the world of whisky over the course of the last decade,” says Brandon A. Ratcliffe, assistant general manager of Davio’s King of Prussia (200 Main St., 610.337.4810, davios.com/kop). “It’s not Scotch and it’s not bourbon... it drinks very beautifully in its own right, and with such a foreseeable shortage on the world stage due to everyone catching on [to the trend], it makes complete sense to round out our whisky selection with some of the nest Japanese [whiskies] available.”
From Nikka’s excellent Yoichi single malt and their epic Taketsuru 17-year-old to standouts from Suntory like Yamazaki 12-year-old and more, Davio’s is confident in the future of Japanese whisky. So, too, is Rittenhouse’s Friday Saturday Sunday (261 S. 21st St., 215.546.4232, fridaysaturdaysunday.com), which features by-the-glass Suntory Toki—“which is blended from the three distilleries owned by Suntory to make a light, mild, grassy whisky,” explains bartender Paul MacDonald—as well as in their Well-Tempered cocktail, alongside gin, vermouth, Suntory Toki, elderflower and besk. And Hop Sing Laundromat (1029 Race St., hopsinglaundromat.com) offers a wide range of excellent ones, as expected: Look for transcendent cocktails from this Chinatown hideaway that include Yamazaki 18-year-old, Hakushu 12-year-old and Suntory Toki. In addition, Yamazaki 12-year-old is available for the amazing price of $10.10 during happy hour. You can expect to see more and more great Japanese whisky being poured throughout the city and beyond. Its time has come.