Whether you’re a total novice when it comes to enjoying Japan’s national drink or well-versed in the nuances between Junmai and Ginjo sake (and if you need a refresher, here’s our handy sake guide), it’s always worth having a bottle on hand for cocktails. With flavours that can range from earthy to saline to floral, sake is one of our favourite drink ingredients, especially when used to balance higher-ABV spirits like gin, as is the case in this beautifully garnished Sakura Martini from Manhattan’s Bar Goto and Brooklyn’s Bar Goto Niban, as well as sweet, acidic pineapple juice, which you’ll need to make a crowd-pleasing batch of Pineapple-Sake Sangria Punch.
If you’re unsure of where to find the best sake, try one of the many US brewers that have caught the proverbial sake bug, like Brooklyn Kura. “Its top sakes can go head to head with good Japanese bottles,” writes executive wine editor Ray Isle. “Brooklyn Kura brewer Brandon Doughan also gets to break more rules than Japanese sake makers do. For example, he recently released a sake co-fermented with Chardonnay in collaboration with Brooklyn’s Hound’s Tree winery.”
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How to make five of our favourite sake cocktails
This elegant, modern take on the saketini was created by Kenta Goto, owner of Manhattan’s Bar Goto and Brooklyn’s Bar Goto Niban. Goto uses aged genshu sake and gin in the drink and garnishes it with a salt-pickled sakura, or cherry blossom.
Made in Japan
Green tea, Japanese malt whiskey, and sake come together for this boozy punch that boasts a kick of citrus from fresh yuzu and grapefruit juice.
Yellow tomatoes give a golden colour to this Bloody Mary, which is fortified by bitters and notes of pineapple and white flower blossoms from a speciality sake.
Pineapple-Sake Sangria Punch
This sake-based punch from chef Helene Henderson is refreshing and spicy thanks to an easy-to-make jalapeño syrup.
Asian Pear Martini
Brandy, sake, and pear juice make for a complex but sweet riff on a Martini.
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