HIBANG | Simple Drinks to launch canned highballs in July

One of my favorite new stops of the past year is Duet Café / Simple Drinks, an unassuming spot near Dongzhimen where you can grab a mug of coffee by day or glass of vino by night and chill out. I wrote about it here.

The owners have also been involved in other projects, including Sour Tower in the Gulou area, and are planning to soon launch three canned whisky highballs that forgo a middle-of-the-road approach and offer some distinctive / intense flavors.

I had a chance to taste those with co-owner Landy Hao last week, plus her home-made plum wine (photo above). Good times!

What I liked most is the distinctiveness and richness of the drinks, all of which include French whisky as a base.

Take the kumquat version. Rather than squeeze pure juice, the entire fruit is compressed, getting more flavors, including from the skin’s oil. If you are into one-dimensional fizzy drinks, it might not be your thing, but I found it quite eye-opening.

The passionfruit, oolong tea and whisky trades the kumquat friskiness for something more elegant, with the fruit and tea a steady marriage.

And the third option, a plum-based highball, offers an entirely different game. This one is smoky and salty—if I’m not mistaken, Hao said they added oak to round out the flavors. Think salted plums. With booze.

The plan is to retail the highballs for 15.8 kuai per can or a three-pack for 42 kuai. I’ll update on my.timeline when they are ready next month. For now, they are still in the testing bottle stage.

By the way, Café Duet already has other creative drinks on the menu, including “Passionfruit Yo!”, with the aforementioned fruit, mint, soda water and espresso.

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