As sake is becoming increasingly appreciated around the world for its unique qualities, it is these very same qualities that are also being explored by mixologists who have found it to be an ingredient with endless possibilities.
It must be said, however, that premium daiginjo sake aren't recommended for use in cocktails, as their notes are too delicate.
Why You Should Include sake in Your Cocktail Recipe
Among the reasons for using sake as the base of your cocktail recipe is its umami bite, which can add a real richness when added to cocktails.
It is also being appreciated as the main event where one may otherwise enjoy vermouth, wine or even gin. Sake's versatility works well in producing everything from sweet, delicate, melon-tasting creations to richer, more bitter flavors.
10 Fun and Delicious sake Cocktail Recipes
Among many other great new concoctions, these are some of our favorite sake cocktail recipe ideas:
The idea of combining sake with other ingredients is nothing new, and tamagozake or hot sake eggnog is proof of this.
How to Make Tamagozake
This is actually a traditional Japanese remedy for the common cold, similar to a hot toddy, where heated sake (about 200 ml heated for around 90 seconds in the microwave) is whisked with raw egg (one egg) and a tablespoon of honey.
For an extra kick that tastes great heated, go for a honjozo sake for the best results - smooth, creamy and beautifully rich.
A general rule of thumb for using sake as a base ingredient in cocktails is to substitute the aromatic fortified white wine vermouth with sake, so vermouth-based cocktails can easily be given the sake twist for a smoother, more umami nuance.
How to Make a Saketini
The saketini is, like a Martini, mixed with gin - use about 30 ml sake and 30 ml gin, shochu or vodka. Again, you're going to want a rather full-bodied rich SAKE to stand up to the gin here, either a junmai or honjozo, even a nigori could do nicely.
Stir the sake with the gin in ice and strain out into a chilled glass and garnish with an olive and an optional dash of orange bitters.
3. Warm Spring
One of the great joys of sake is how it can vary with temperature, yielding rich nuances that go very well with spiced flavors.
How to Make a Warm Spring
The Warm Spring takes advantage of this and is two-thirds of a part amaretto combined with one and a half parts sake - preferably a honjozo or tokubetsu junmai - in a heat resistant glass. Then add two parts hot water and a sugar cube and muddle with a cinnamon stick garnish
4. Plum Spritzer
Sake is a fantastically versatile drink that can be steeped with fruits to produce different flavors. This is commonly done with ume - or Japanese plums - to create umeshu.
How to Make a Sake Plum Spritzer
For this Japanese twist on a wine spritzer, take three parts umeshu and combine with two parts soda water. For the best results, use umeshu made using Sake rather than another clear alcohol and serve chilled with an ume garnish, or if you can't find one, orange peel will do nicely.
A similar technique can even be used to make sake sangrias.
5. Dream Cloud
Nigori Sake (meaning cloudy sake) has a rather milkier, sweeter and heavier taste and texture in comparison to regular sake, which makes it another exciting cocktail ingredient.
How to Make a Dream Cloud
To bring out the delicate sweetness, place a quarter part syrup and a couple of melon wedges in a mixing glass. Then add two and a half parts nigorizake and one and a half parts chilled green tea and shake well with ice before straining and serving into a chilled Martini glass.
6. Lychee Sake Martini
While this is most likely the simplest of the cocktails on this list, it's nonetheless a sweet and refreshing drink that goes well with the delicate, melony nuances of more fragrant sake.
How to Make a Lychee Sake Martini
Go for one part dry ginjo sake and one part lychee juice and simply garnish with a lychee for a fresh tasting and satisfying short cocktail. Optionally chill in the fridge for ten minutes prior to serving to allow the sake and lychee to get acquainted.
7. Sake Mojito
The sake mojito is incredibly easy, but highly refreshing, and will keep you cool during those heat wave-heavy months.
How to Make a Sake Mojito
For a twist on a summer classic cocktail, take about a dozen fresh mint leaves and place in a tumbler. Then add a third of a part sugar syrup, a lime cut into wedges and muddle.
Then add two and a half parts sake - preferably a delicate ginjo to go well with the fresh mint and light sweetness, or a honjozo if you want to give it more of a bite.
Then add crushed ice and top up with a little soda water.
8. Sake Negroni
As with the Martini, the bitter Negroni uses vermouth, which makes this cocktail a natural source of inspiration for sake cocktails.
How to Make Sake Negroni
There are many different recipes for a Sake Negroni, but most call for one part Campari or Aperol, one part vermouth and one part sake in place of gin - a tokubetsu honjozo would do nicely for an unmistakably bitter cocktail that is rounded by the powerful umami of the sake and has less of an alcoholic taste than the original.
Serve over crushed ice and muddle.
9. Ginza Mary
This Japanese twist on the rich Bloody Mary makes the most of already umami-laden ingredients and ties them together with Sake - this works best with umami-heavy Sake like a honjozo or maybe a tokubetsu junmai, even a futsushu will do.
How to Make a Ginza Mary
Mix together 30 ml of vodka with 30 ml of Sake, 60 ml of tomato juice, 15 ml of lemon juice, a couple of splashes of Tabasco or chili sauce and soy sauce in place of Worcestershire sauce and shake with ice, then serve. Garnish with black pepper if you want an extra kick.
10. Sake Blossom
This is a beautifully sweet and fragrant cocktail that goes well with delicate sake on the sweeter end of the spectrum.
How to Make a Sake Blossom
Start with 30 ml sake, preferably a ginjo, and mix with 10 ml rose syrup, 15 ml peach schnapps and just a teaspoon of lemon juice in a mixer over ice. Then serve into a chilled glass and add 40 ml nigorizake before gently muddling.
This is a real treat on a hot summer's evening that will appeal to those with a sweet tooth, while still respecting the fragrant nuances of the sake.
Sake Cocktail Recipe Possibilities are Endless
Sake is an enormously versatile drink that combines well as a base ingredient or just as a little something extra, with varieties doing just as well in sweet cocktails as they do in bitter ones, an enormously exciting quality that has intrigued mixologists around the world.
As with everything in sake, it is a matter of taste and experimentation with the most fun lying in experimenting for yourself with cocktails to find what works for you.