It is really difficult to create cocktails using sake as a base. Sake tends to be subtle and the nuances are often lost when other spirits are combined into the drink. So it takes a genius who understands these subtleties to come up with a cocktail that allows the sake to shine on the palate.
Our friends Martha and Micah Chong are just those cocktail geniuses. I had bartended with Martha at Camino and she and her husband Micah are true cocktail aficionados. Cocktail-making is their passion, and they always have some sort of infusion, bitters, or house-made syrups brewing in their kitchen in Oakland. They also have consulted for Takara Sake in Berkeley, so they are well-versed in sake and its flavor profiles.
I was a bit stumped on making a sake cocktail and asked Martha for advice. A week later, she and Micah had this for me:
By The Chongs
2 oz Genshu sake
0.5 oz Rye whisky
1 Barspoon of Genepy
A little bit about the ingredients the Chongs chose for The Western: Sequoia, out of San Francisco, makes a great nama genshu sake (unpasteurized tank-strength sake). Since there is no water added to the sake, it is much more robust and alcoholic than other sakes, at a 19% ABV. Micah chose the Michter's for the rye here, as it is a bit smokier and sweeter than other ryes. Genepy is a newer import here in the states, which is a herbaceous liqueur from France. Think mint, pine, and licorice.
1. Add all ingredients into a mixing glass.
2. Add ice into the glass. Stir very briefly, five seconds max.
3. Strain into a chilled coupe.
This elegant cocktail is light on its feet and brought together with the barspoon of Genepy. Enjoy!