Hanami (sakura viewing) season is upon us, as fruit blossoms are exploding worldwide, if not already. We are celebrating our release of the long-awaited Umami Mart Bitters by Miracle Mile and have been tinkering with it night and day to create a perfect cocktail for the season.
Sakura trees at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn
After a few conversations with Miracle Mile proprietor Louis Anderman about what drinks would be best for these bitters – made with many Japan-inspired ingredients including red miso, gobo (burdock root), and kokuto – we finally got it right with this special seasonal cocktail. Yes, of course, Old Fashioneds are a no-brainer for the Umami Mart Bitters, as it will do nothing but enhance any brown spirit cocktails. But we just started carrying the super limited Mancino Sakura Vermouth from Italy, made with pressed cherry blossoms from Kyoto and violets from Italy. Could we work that into a drink somehow and make it a play on a Manhattan?
This was not an easy challenge as the Sakura Vermouth has elegant floral tones with a tart cherry finish. De'Andre and I tried about eight different Japanese whiskies with this vermouth but none of them really complemented the subtle sakura notes.
Then we thought, how about Baller Whiskey, made right here in the East Bay by St. George? They age the whiskey in umeshu casks – might that enhance the stonefruit tones of the vermouth, plus an added layer of complexity from the whiskey's smokey scent? Finally, we nailed it! Almost.
You can never forget: the bitters. The backbone to any cocktail, we actually started off our trials using one dash of Forbidden (Miracle Miles' Angostura version) and one dash of Orange bitters. This was fine. But once we added a couple splashes of the Umami Mart Bitters, we really felt this cocktail was complete. The deep richness of the bitters, with soy sauce and konbu notes, supports the Baller without taking away from the Sakura vermouth.
Special thanks to our own De'Andre Crenshaw, our spirits wizard, for dialing in the Hanami Cocktail.
2 oz Baller Single Malt Whiskey
1 oz Mancino Sakura Vermouth
2 dashes of the Umami Mart Bitters by Miracle Mile (we recommend using a Bitters Bottle to dispense the bitters evenly)
Flower blossom for garnish
1. Jigger in whiskey and vermouth into a mixing glass.
2. Add dashes of Umami Mart Bitters.
3. Add plenty of ice to the glass and stir for 15 seconds.
4. Strain into a glass with stem.
5. Pick a fresh flower blossom. I used these vibrant wax flowers since sakura season is over for us here in the Bay Area.
We'll be making these drinks at our bar this weekend so come hang out with us! Otherwise, get all the ingredients and tools you need for this cocktail here and try it for yourself from the comfort of your own home.