High Ballin'

Little Tokyo's Wolf & Crane has a taste for highballs

Keep it simple, stupid.

It's a good motto for life, and a particularly fitting adage when ordering a cocktail.

At Little Tokyo's newest bar–the first full-liquor joint to hit the neighborhood in decades–you won't have to wait the now-common 15 minutes for the barman's latest creation. That's because Wolf & Crane celebrates the highball, a class of uncomplicated drinks comprised of a base spirit topped up with a carbonated mixer.

No highball on the menu has more than four ingredients: Fernet Pop ($10) mixes the Italian digestif with vermouth, root beer and a dash of citrus bitters to produce a lovely bittersweet effect; Ransom gin, grapefruit bitters and tonic make up the Gin Trap ($10), while the Baja Buck ($10) gets tequila, ginger beer and fresh grapefruit.

"It's easy-drinking and refreshing, but you can still taste the spirit" explains co-owner Matthew Glaser.

Glaser traces the highball trend back to Japan, where whiskey and sodas are a popular choice for younger bar-goers.

Indeed, with its semi-hidden entrance, anime comic prints and geometric wood designs, Wolf & Crane gives off a certain "Lost in Translation" vibe, ideal for drinking a glass of Suntory whiskey and pretending you're Bill Murray.

There are packets of Japanese snacks ($2) to quell hunger pangs, or you could simply stumble in a highball haze out into Little Tokyo, where at least a half-dozen ramen-ya await.