In recent years, sake has rapidly gained mainstream traction at bars, restaurants, and grocery stores stateside. The traditional Japanese rice wine comes in variations that boast a wide assortment of textures and flavor profiles, but the one you should absolutely be reaching for as the weather heats up is yuzu sake.
Yuzu sake — which, as the name suggests, is simply sake infused with yuzu juice — falls somewhere between a citrus-forward cocktail, limoncello, and the most refreshing glass of freshly squeezed juice imaginable. Yuzu’s high acidity balances any of the sweetness it adds to the sake, and at a slightly lower ABV than non-infused sake, it’s a perfect summer park day-sipper. It’s also unbelievably versatile on its own, in a highball over seltzer, in a cocktail, or as an orange juice replacement in a Mimosa, making it the jack-of-all-trades beverage you need in your fridge.
Here are four yuzu sake cocktail recipes to make all summer long.
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Finback Brewery’s Shinobu Summer Recipe
Kato Sake Works is a Brooklyn-based sake producer founded by Shinobu Kato, a Tokyo native who moved to the U.S. in 2004. Using his background in IT and his love of sake, Shinobu engineered the machinery to start a high-quality, traditional sake brewery out of a tiny warehouse and tasting room in Bushwick. Finback Brewery’s bartender James Wojtukiewicz uses Shinobu’s yuzu sake in his tiki-style cocktail, which is named as an homage to the Brooklyn-based ingredient owners Shinobu Kato and Jackie Summers.
- 1 ounce Halftone London dry gin
- 1 ounce Sorel
- ¾ ounce Kato Sake Works yuzu sake
- ½ ounce vanilla simple syrup
- ¼ ounce lemon juice
- 1 ounce passion fruit juice
- 1 lime wheel, for garnish
(To make vanilla simple syrup: Add ½ cup water and ½ cup sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Once simple syrup is at room temp, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.)
Combine ingredients in a shaker and serve over fresh ice. Garnish with lime wheel.
MIKA Brooklyn’s Yuzuni Recipe
Owner Furuya Mika opened MIKA, an art-themed bar, in the hopes of creating a gathering place for members of her Bushwick, Brooklyn community, as well as a place to regularly engage with local artists and businesses. Bar manager Jack Reynolds created the Yuzuni, as well as the menu’s Addison Ball and Jack Ball cocktails, which call for yuzu sake over club soda and fresh squeezed orange juice, respectively.
- 1 ounce yuzu sake
- ½ ounce Aperol
- ½ ounce mead
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed tangerine juice
- ¼ ounce lemon juice
- Yuzu and orange peels, for garnish
Combine ingredients, shake and serve. Garnish with yuzu peel and an orange peel spiral.
Rule of Thirds’ Chiba Surf Club
Brian Evans and George Padilla run the beverage program at Rule of Thirds, an izakaya-inspired restaurant with a focus on Japanese flavors. Yuzu sake is an instrumental part of its beverage programming, both as a cocktail component or on its own as a dessert pairing.
- ¾ ounce Lillet Rosé infused with fresh scallions (50 grams of fresh scallion bulbs and shoots infused into 1 bottle of Lillet Rose for 24 hours, then strained and refrigerated)
- ¾ ounce Hojun yuzu sake
- ½ ounce strawberry syrup (1:1 hulled strawberries with white sugar, puréed using a blender)
- 3 ounces Prosecco
- Combine and briefly shake the first three ingredients together with ice.
- Strain the cocktail into a glass over sparkling wine and ice.
- Stir briefly to incorporate, and serve with 2 long chive stems.