It’s peak summer and now is the time when fatigue in hot weather can come in. Suddenly, your crisp white wine may no longer be able to cut it, and a refreshing vodka cocktail may feel dull, so why not turn it on with guilt?
Not quite a wine, not a beer, the fermented rice brandy originating in Japan offers widespread umami notes characterized by grains and lychees, which are responsible for its versatility to be served hot, cold or as a unique , alternative base for a cocktail.
Taka Iida, founder of Takasan, an online market for guilt, wine and handmade goods from Japan, explains that guilt is ideal for cocktails because it is a “base that is more refreshing and not heavy.” Iida adds that sake has less alcohol content compared to distilled spirits [typically around 18 to 20 percent ABV], is lighter in taste and gives a unique combination of flowers and crispness in the palate.
“Sake lights up,” emphasizes Monica Samuels, vice president of Sake and Spirits, Vine Connections. Even if it takes your favorite cocktail and converts to a split base between liquor and sake (some of my favorites are a plum sake highball where you halve the amount of whiskey and replace with plum sake, or a vesper martini where you swap gin with a floral ginjo sake), you create a lower ABV, more session-able drink that also has more complexity and aromas. ”
Samuels suggests trying the individual guilt first to let the guilt inspire the cocktail, as styles can range from ginjo to a more rice-driven junmai guilt. Below are 10 recipes that are getting started.
The tea of wisdom
Ingredients: 3 oz. Tozai Well of Wisdom Sake; 3 oz. brewed and chilled green tea; ⅓ cup fresh cantaloupe pieces muddled in 1 tablespoon simple syrup
Method: Combine everything in a shaker and add a few ice cubes. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with melon ball selection.
Ingredients: 3 oz. Tozai Blossom of Peace Sake; mango La Croix sparkling water
Method: Pour the flower of peace over ice in tall glass and top with mango La Croix. Garnish with an edible flower or cherry.
Ingredients: 3 oz. Tozai Blossom of Peace Plum Sake; 6 fresh cherries; 6 fresh mint leaves; 2 oz. pomegranate juice; lemon juice; sprinkle soda
Method: Muddle cherries and mint in a shaker. Add Blossom of Peace Plum Sake, juice and soda. Served over ice. Garnish with lemon wedge and mint sprig.
Citrus Basil Typhoon-Tini
Ingredients: 3 oz. Tozai Typhoon Sake; 3 oz freshly squeezed lemonade; 2 large fresh Thai basil leaves
Method: Chop Thai basil coarsely. Combine typhoon and lemonade with ice in a shaker and serve with basil garnish.
Ingredients: 6 oz. Tozai Snow Maiden Sake; 4 fresh strawberries, sliced; 4 large mint leaves, torn; 2 teaspoons agave nectar; lime juice; 2 oz. club sodavand
Method: Mix strawberries in Snow Maiden Sake with mint, agave and lime juice in a shaker. Add ice and shake, strain into a tall glass. Finish with club soda and a garnish of mint.
Umeshu Spritz No. 1
Ingredients: 1.5 ounce Kamoizumi Umeshu; 0.5 oz. lemon juice; 0.5 to 1 teaspoon sugar (to taste) Topo Chico or soda; ca. 6 mint leaves; coin twig for decoration
Method: Mix sugar, lemon juice and mint leaves together at the bottom of the glass. Add umeshu and stir lightly. Add ice cream and top with soda and mint sprig.
Umeshu Spritz No. 2
Ingredients: 1.5 ounce Kamoizumi Umeshu; 0.5 oz. Little Blanc; 0.25 oz. honey syrup; splash of champagne; edible flowers
Method: Combine and stir umeshu, Lillet and honey syrup. Top with champagne and edible flowers.
Ingredients: 1.5 ounces TYKU cucumber peel; 0.5 oz. orange liqueur; 0.25 oz. simple syrup
Method: In a shaker, combine sake, orange liqueur and simple syrup. Shake with ice. Pour a wine glass and top with club soda.
Ingredients: 1.5 ounces TYKU cucumber peel; lime squeeze; ginger beer
Method: In a stone glass with ice, add TYKU with a pinch of lime. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime and mint.
Ingredients: 1.5 oz. TYKU Junmai skyld; 0.5 oz. simple syrup; 0.5 oz. yuzu limejuice
Method: Mix all ingredients in a glass. Stir and then garnish with a lime.