Springtime in Kyoto
2.5 oz Nigori Sake (I used Gekkeikan)
2.5 oz cucumber and sorrel* juice
1/4 tsp rice vinegar
Scant pinch of salt
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled Collins glass filled with ice and top with 1 oz club soda.
Garnish with cucumber wheel.
After several weeks of developing cocktails on the more potent end of the spectrum, I’ve decided something lighter is in order for this week. Something that might hit the spot at a Mother’s Day brunch. It’s been a rainy week, and cucumbers have long reminded me of freshly fallen rain, so I’ve built this week’s cocktail around cucumber juice. Wanting to avoid the higher octane candidates of gin and vodka, I’ve settled on Nigori Sake, a cloudy, unfiltered sake, as a natural pairing and decided to lighten it further by making it a spritzer. Nigori literally means “cloudy” in Japanese. Feel free to impress your friends with this knowledge over sushi. I’ve used Gekkeikan Nigori, which is brewed in Kyoto, Japan, a place I desperately want to visit. Hence the name, Springtime in Kyoto.
Cucumber juice and soda water could not alone provide all the sparkle the drink needs. It needs some acid, so I’ve added sorrel from our garden to the cucumber juice and a touch of rice vinegar to the recipe.
To make the drink, start by chilling your Nigori Sake. Next, make your cucumber sorrel juice. Start with one organic cucumber. If it feels too waxy, give it a light scrub with baking soda under cool running water. Next, slice thin wheels and set them aside for your garnish, then slice the cucumber lengthwise and scoop out the seeds since they have less intensity than the rest of the melon. Finally, chop the cucumber into chunks that your juicer can accommodate. Now, wash 5 medium-sized sorrel leaves* (about 6 inches long), stems and all. I don’t know how your juicer works, but mine works best when I sandwich the sorrel leaves in between the cucumber chunks. This should yield enough juice for 3 cocktails.
Shake your bottle of Nigori Sake, then build your cocktail in a shaker of ice. Shake it, strain it into a chilled Collins glass filled with ice, top with club soda, garnish with a cucumber wheel and serve.
Oh, and don’t forget to call your mother.
*Note: If you cannot find fresh sorrel, increase the amount of rice vinegar to 1/2 tsp.