Don't be fooled by the trendiness of its pink staircase; downtown bar-arcade-restaurant Misuta Chow's has taken its authentic Japanese food and drink seriously. The newest toy for mixologist Jason Wood and owners Johny Chow and Christi Allen is the first of three Suntory Toki whisky highball tap towers for its bar.
These machines reduce bartenders' effort and error in crafting a Japanese whisky highball cocktail, which blends hyper-carbonated soda water with chilled Toki whisky, poured over a special type of ice. Bon Appetit compared the highball produced by this machine, estimated to cost in the low thousands of dollars, to whisky champagne as opposed to a whisky soda.
This article in the Chicago Tribune by Grace Wong explains the machine's finer details, including cooling temperatures and the ratio of soda to whisky.
While thousands of these specialty gadgets have been sold in Japan, their entrance into the U.S. market has been considerably slower. Statistics between outlets vary, but there appear to be fewer than 100 highball tap towers in use in America.
In laying out their bar before opening last July, Chow and Allen planned for two highball towers downstairs and one upstairs. The Japanese inspiration came from Chow's tours as a bassist for metal band Stone Sour, which took him to Tokyo where he eagerly sought out cool bars. Read more about Chow's brainchild in Andrew Galarneau's interview.
A highball tower launch event, marked by a visit from Beam-Suntory luxury portfolio manager Hiro Hayakawa, will be at 6:30 p.m. March 13 at 521 Main St. Misuta Chow's Chef Dunbar Berdine will roll out four courses paired with spirits by wood. Tickets are $60, with limited room available. The first highball will be poured by Hayakawa at 8 p.m.