Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association | JSS
Sake cocktails and good mixers can be a bit of a heated topic among sake-lovers. As sake-purists argue, sake is perfectly delicious on its own. That being said, its versatility and variety also make it a great addition to cocktails, when done correctly.
Let’s explore both sides of the sake mixing debate: reasons not to mix sake and why mixing sake can be a great idea. For fans of mixing sake, we’ll also explore some excellent sake cocktail ideas.
Much like fine wine, sake can be enjoyed just as it is. Achieving the final product requires intense work, thought, and planning. With a full-bodied and complex taste, there really is no need to add anything extra to it. Furthermore, the rich culture surrounding sake, the vessels, and serving traditions, becomes a huge part of the experience. It is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, and that cultural connection is a big part of its appeal. As a result, using sake in a mixed drink can feel like it is diluting its cultural aspects.
Additionally, sake has the amazing ability to change its flavor profile by simply changing its temperature. Warming sake brings out depth and umami while chilling it highlights crisp acidity. Therefore, adding other ingredients to enhance its taste is unnecessary. Also, most sake flavor profiles are quite subtle, especially with premium and specially designated sake. Instead of enhancing the aroma, mixing sake may overpower its flavor completely.
On the other hand, sake is extremely versatile. With its huge variety styles, some sake takes on a new flavor when mixed with other ingredients. In fact, mixologists around the world have started developing drink recipes featuring sake as an ingredient. As a new category, sake cocktails involve experimenting with what works, what does not, and finding the right balance of flavors.
The great news is sake can be mixed with pretty much anything. It goes well with other alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic mixers. Very little can actually go wrong. More often than not, the question is more about to what degree sake is the cocktail focus. This is where the experts create magic: tasty sake cocktails that are unapologetically sake, yet creative, delicious and daring.
Sake cocktails include a variety of new creations and old inspirations. Many updated classics swap out their traditional base alcohol for sake, such as the Martini or the Mojito. However, there are also unique sake concoctions, with both simple mixes and complex, multilayered creations. Despite their differences, one thing all these sake-based cocktails have in common is their mind-blowing deliciousness.
The following is a selection of some of the most popular sake mixed drinks, recommended for anyone open to trying something new. Of course, there are plenty of more sake cocktail recipes out there ready for you to explore. Who knows, you may even get inspired and even create your own!
Inspired by James Bond’s favorite Martini, this classic cocktail has found a new interpretation using Japanese sake: the “Saketini”.
It is a simple, yet tasty example of how to use sake in a cocktail. All you need to do is stir equal measures of sake and dry gin in a mixing glass with ice. Strain the ingredients into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with olives or lemon peel to your liking and voila! A delicious sake cocktail in less than 5 minutes.
|Dry Gin 30ml
|Olive or lemon peel
Everyone loves a good Mojito. It is fresh, zesty, and just a little sweet. A sake-inspired Mojito is a perfect cocktail to have in hand on a hot summer day and enjoy the sunset.
All you need to do to create the perfect sake Mojito is muddle a handful of mint leaves, sugar syrup, and lime wedges in a glass. Add sake and ice cubes then top with a splash of soda. Give it a quick stir for the perfect Mojito with a twist.
|Sugar syrup 10ml
|Fresh mint leaves
|1/2 a Lime
|1 Splash of soda
This is a simple sake cocktail, named after the adorable Japanese Shiba Inu dog. Inspired by a Salty Dog, rumor has it that it was first created by a sake brewery. It is a simple, elegant, and refreshing cocktail that can be ready to drink in less than 5 minutes.
Wet the rim of an old-fashioned glass with water or grapefruit juice or sake for extra flavor. Dip the rim of the glass into salt to create a fine, even layer. Add sake and grapefruit juice in equal measures together with some ice. Then, just stir gently and you have your Shiba Dog.
|Grapefruit juice 60ml
Another great sake cocktail is the Old-Fashioned. Originally made with whiskey, substituting with sake gives the drink a nice twist. If available, aged sake makes for a richer flavor closer to the whiskey original. However, you may want to consider this carefully, as aged sake can be pricey. Plus, this cocktail is delicious with any sake variety.
To prepare your sake Old-Fashioned, pour sake over a sugar cube into an old-fashioned glass. Add a dash of bitters, fill the glass with ice cubes, and mix well. Throw in the lemon and orange slices, or just an orange peel for a more traditional flavor. As a final touch, make a picture-perfect Old-Fashioned with a maraschino cherry garnish.
|1 Dash of bitters
|1 Sugar cube
|1 Maraschino cherry
|1 Orange slice
|1 Lemon slice
Who does not like a sparkling cocktail? It is refreshing and gives an air of sophistication, making it the perfect drink for any celebration. This is why the Sake Fizz makes a great addition to any cocktail repertoire. It is an easy sake cocktail recipe with strong Japanese flavors due to the addition of yuzu, a citrus fruit native to the country.
This cocktail looks best in a martini glass. First, chill the glass. Once it has cooled down, add the sake, yuzu juice, and sugar syrup then stir gently. After mixing, add the sparkling wine and serve immediately.
Alternatively, sparkling sake could also be used. In that case, mix just the juice and sugar syrup and top with sparkling sake.
|Sparkling wine 70ml
|Yuzu juice 30ml
|1 Tbsp of sugar syrup
Sake is an incredibly versatile beverage. Like any fine wine, it is generally enjoyed on its own to bring out its complexity and aroma. Just by changing its temperature, sake can transform and highlight different flavors within the same drink. Many believe for these reasons sake should not be mixed. It is delicious and complete on its own.
However, there is no reason not to have a little fun with sake. With renowned mixologists around the globe creating exciting sake cocktails, it would be a shame not to explore this aspect of sake too. Mixing sake with other ingredients can lead to revamped takes on old classics and delightful new creations to enjoy.
Opinions about sake have as much variety as the drink itself. However, everyone can agree on the most important part: celebrating this traditional beverage. Why not occasionally do so in a cocktail glass with a cherry on top?