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Cannonball’s Midnight in Tokyo: like a Japanese hot toddy

“But then we said, ‘How can we make it more traditional?’”

Cannonball Midnight in Tokyo.
Cannonball Midnight in Tokyo.
Alvaro Cruz

On a windy, overcast day on the boardwalk of Mission Beach, I make my way up to Cannonball’s rooftop bar. Alvaro Cruz recommends Midnight in Tokyo as the perfect drink to help warm up. “With the cold weather up here, people ask for a hot toddy and this is a representation — like a Japanese hot toddy,” he says, noting the use of “Japanese whiskey and a Japanese presentation go along with the theme [of a sushi restaurant].”

To create the Midnight in Tokyo, “we start with the green tea syrup that’s made in-house. I do my own little mixture of green tea and a little bit of peach tea. Very subtle. It’s more of the green tea you’re going to taste,” he says. “And then Japanese whiskey. We also blend it with a little bit of American whiskey, because the Japanese whiskey that we’re using, it doesn’t hold up to all the other ingredients. We needed to bump up the whiskey notes to help the Japanese whiskey come through.”

Place

Cannonball

3105 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego

The American whiskey is also house-made in a way, through a barrel program with Maker’s Mark. “We sent people out to Kentucky to pick the staves. And then they barrel it for us, with our flavors,” he explains, describing their curation as having “a lot of heavy butterscotch, caramel notes, and that bourbon note that everybody knows — peppery. So it has a lot of spice.”

Suntory Toki is the Japanese whiskey of choice here. “I think it’s an entry level whiskey for our clientele. A lot of people think Japanese whiskey is very smoky, but this doesn’t have that peatyness,” says Cruz. “Certain people want that Japanese whiskey and know that flavor, so they ask for it… but this is more palatable for everybody.”

They took some inspiration from Japanese tea ceremonies. “Originally we were going to present just the drink, like a hot toddy itself. But then we said, ‘How can we make it more traditional?’ So, we came up with the tea setup.” We take turns pouring a cup, so he can show me how it’s done. “I like to taste first,” he says, before selecting an addition. He chooses cinnamon sticks, while I opt for anise and dehydrated lemon. I take a beat, allowing the flavors to infuse before sipping the whiskey and tea, now tailored to my liking.

“We wanted to give everyone a chance to make it their own,” says Cruz. “So that’s why we put the accoutrements. It’s up to you!”

Cannonball Midnight in Tokyo Poured

Cannonball’s

Midnight in Tokyo

  • 1 oz. Maker’s Mark Private Select Whiskey
  • 2 oz. Suntory Toki whiskey
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. green tea honey syrup
  • 10 oz. hot water
  • Build into teapot. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, star of anise, dehydrated lemon wheels.
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Cannonball Midnight in Tokyo.
Cannonball Midnight in Tokyo.
Alvaro Cruz

On a windy, overcast day on the boardwalk of Mission Beach, I make my way up to Cannonball’s rooftop bar. Alvaro Cruz recommends Midnight in Tokyo as the perfect drink to help warm up. “With the cold weather up here, people ask for a hot toddy and this is a representation — like a Japanese hot toddy,” he says, noting the use of “Japanese whiskey and a Japanese presentation go along with the theme [of a sushi restaurant].”

To create the Midnight in Tokyo, “we start with the green tea syrup that’s made in-house. I do my own little mixture of green tea and a little bit of peach tea. Very subtle. It’s more of the green tea you’re going to taste,” he says. “And then Japanese whiskey. We also blend it with a little bit of American whiskey, because the Japanese whiskey that we’re using, it doesn’t hold up to all the other ingredients. We needed to bump up the whiskey notes to help the Japanese whiskey come through.”

Place

Cannonball

3105 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego

The American whiskey is also house-made in a way, through a barrel program with Maker’s Mark. “We sent people out to Kentucky to pick the staves. And then they barrel it for us, with our flavors,” he explains, describing their curation as having “a lot of heavy butterscotch, caramel notes, and that bourbon note that everybody knows — peppery. So it has a lot of spice.”

Suntory Toki is the Japanese whiskey of choice here. “I think it’s an entry level whiskey for our clientele. A lot of people think Japanese whiskey is very smoky, but this doesn’t have that peatyness,” says Cruz. “Certain people want that Japanese whiskey and know that flavor, so they ask for it… but this is more palatable for everybody.”

They took some inspiration from Japanese tea ceremonies. “Originally we were going to present just the drink, like a hot toddy itself. But then we said, ‘How can we make it more traditional?’ So, we came up with the tea setup.” We take turns pouring a cup, so he can show me how it’s done. “I like to taste first,” he says, before selecting an addition. He chooses cinnamon sticks, while I opt for anise and dehydrated lemon. I take a beat, allowing the flavors to infuse before sipping the whiskey and tea, now tailored to my liking.

“We wanted to give everyone a chance to make it their own,” says Cruz. “So that’s why we put the accoutrements. It’s up to you!”

Cannonball Midnight in Tokyo Poured

Cannonball’s

Midnight in Tokyo

  • 1 oz. Maker’s Mark Private Select Whiskey
  • 2 oz. Suntory Toki whiskey
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. green tea honey syrup
  • 10 oz. hot water
  • Build into teapot. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, star of anise, dehydrated lemon wheels.
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