When Yoko told me that this month's Sake Gumi theme was genshu sakes, I was so excited. This was a prime opportunity to develop some new cocktails! Since genshu sakes are tank strength, they have not been diluted (most sakes are diluted with water to bring down the ABV) – so these sakes express themselves well in cocktails.
For these drinks, I took two classic cocktails and modified them using two of this month's sakes – Kikusui Funaguchi Nama Genshu and Tsukinoi Junmai Muroka Nama Genshu. Yoko calls the former the "Nectar of Niigata" for its viscous, ripe fruitiness – because of this, it reminded me more of a sweet vermouth. Tsukinoi is a bit more refined and restrained than the Kikusui, but still has a sweetness to it, so I used it like I would a blanc vermouth (an off-dry vermouth between a sweet and dry; apparently all the rage in Russia).
By no means does sake truly emulate a vermouth. Vermouth is made with grapes, and sake with rice. However, I do feel that they have similar roles in cocktails, to add dryness, acidity, or sweetness, which is why I used these genshus in this way for these boozy cocktails. Enjoy!
ROB ROY RIFF
The Rob Roy is a classic cocktail using just three ingredients: scotch, sweet vermouth and aromatic bitters. My usual go-to scotch for cocktails is Famous Grouse, which is more on the caramel spectrum, and less smoky. I think Akashi White Oak Japanese whisky is a great contender for the Rob Roy for it's balance of fruit, nuttiness and smoke.
Build drink in a mixing glass, add plenty of ice, and stir for 10-12 seconds. Strain into a glass. Garnish with cherry.
Yoko recently visited Death + Co. in Denver and had a Bamboo cocktail there so I wanted to try making one with sake, as it is a cocktail that was created in Yokohama. This was actually quite challenging and want to make clear that this drink is only inspired by the Bamboo, and it's a far cry from one. The Bamboo calls for sherry, which I subbed with awamori instead, which is a shochu with earthy, grassy, often funky notes. Sherry is known for its musty tones, but it is also quite acidic – because of this, I added not just the genshu sake, but also some dry vermouth to capture the acidity.
Build drink in a mixing glass, add plenty of ice, and stir for 8-10 seconds. Garnish with lemon peel.
Let us know what you think of these cocktails. Cheers!