Heyyyy, Happy Hour is BACK! I spent all weekend trying to come up with a clever column name for this post, which would also be used for future articles about cocktails that I make at home (Bar Umami Mart? Kayoko Bar? Bar Kayo?). But I had an A-HA moment this morning in the shower... Happy Hour! This column was started in 2007 by Payman Bahmani (now a bar man in Cyprus!), handed down to Fredo Ceraso, and now, here I am. Yes, I've passed the torch down to myself. Thanks for having me! (The crowd cheers). I'm excited to start contributing to this column, bringing recipes, old and new for a joyful, imbibing crowd. You!
We'll be kicking off Mule Month at Umami Mart this week, to celebrate our copper mugs and its main purpose: the Moscow Mule! The Moscow Mule is a drink that originated in the 1940s as a marketing gimmick to popularize vodka in a time when gin was the #1 spirit of choice. Oh how the times have changed! Since this drink was created by the head of the company who owned Smirnoff vodka, they cleverly dubbed this drink the "Moscow Mule" (get it???), adding ginger beer made in-house by famous Los Angeles Britpub, the Cock 'n Bull, along with lime juice. The copper mug they presented the Moscow Mule in was just for kicks, but it worked --by 1950, vodka sales more than tripled!
But enough of that. MC, our wonderful Umami Mart teamster suggested one day that we should come up with the Tokyo Mule. Why not?!?! Sounded like a challenge fit for Happy Hour.
So what makes this drink distinctly Tokyo? Shochu of course! I'm all for keeping a drink simple, letting the ingredients speak for themselves. That's why California Shochu by St. George is a stellar rice shochu for this drink -- its 40% ABV packs a potent punch on its own, and comes through nicely in a cocktail, where other lower proof shochus may lose out to the citrus.
2oz Rice shochu
0.75oz Sudachi or lime juice
0.5oz Shrub & Co. ginger shrub
3oz Club soda, I like Q Soda
Lime for garnish
1. Measure shochu with a jigger and pour into a cocktail shaker. You don't need too much dilution for this so I used a Cobbler shaker instead of a Boston:
2. Add ginger shrub:
Shrub & Co. started out in Atlanta, and recently relocated right here to the Bay Area, in Berkeley! Their shrubs are not so sweet, and are dynamic additions to various cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. This ginger variety is by far the most popular kind at Umami Mart, and I added this instead of using ginger beer. I originally added gum syrup to this drink because I thought it would need an extra boost of sweetness but it does not! This shrub is enough, but feel free to add more than 0.5oz if you need a touch more of sweetness.
3. Add sudachi:
Sudachi is a Japanese citrus that is similar to lime with a distinctly peppery aroma. It is not as floral as yuzu, and not as tart as a regular lime. Remember, this is a TOKYO Mule!*
4. Add 5-6 cubes of ice into the shaker and... SHAKE!
A short, vigorous shake here (6 seconds) is fine. Since we'll be adding club soda, we don't need to dilute these ingredients so much.
5. Put a nice gigantic piece of ice into the copper mug and strain the cocktail out of the shaker. Yes, it needs to be this mug:
6. Top off with club soda:
Bring on the fizz!
7. Garnish with lime peel, and if you're feeling fancy, a piece of candied ginger!
Kanpai from Tokyo!
This is a simple and refreshing drink, made fragrant by the shochu and sudachi. It's perfect for a HOT day out (a barbecue perhaps?) or when you just need a powerful thirst quencher. And if you don't feel like drinking alcohol, just leave out the shochu. Enjoy yourself!
Making cocktails at home is so satisfying. Stay tuned for more original recipes!
*Purchase sudachi juice and Shrub & Co. products at Umami Mart!
**Photos by Johnny Lopes and me