Boulevardier for Cherry’s Sake
Stir and strain into a chilled coupe.
Garnish with 3 bourbon-soaked or Luxardo Marischino cherries.
Today is the apex of DC’s National Cherry Blossom Festival. Both the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and The Sakura Matsuri, a Japanese Street festival that is the largest one-day celebration of Japanese Culture in the US, kicked off at 10 am, and the events signal the (un)official start of the spring for the city. Rooftop bars and beer gardens are throwing open their doors, and the mood is jubilant.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of the long friendship between the US and Japan rooted in the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. Obviously, there have been some hiccups in that close relationship (Pearl Harbor & Japanese internment camps), but maybe those lapses can at least remind us that friendships that seem to be irredeemably broken can still be mended. Given these contentious times, that is a source of comfort.
Also comforting? A delicious cocktail! Boulevardier for Cherry’s Sake substitutes Don Ciccio & Figli’s Cerasum aperitivo for Campari. DC-made Cerasum is an Italian style bitter liqueur infused with cherries, sakura blossoms and other botanicals as an homage to the lasting friendship between the two countries. I would have loved to have used a Japanese whiskey in place of the Bulleit Bourbon, but I must occasionally show fiscal restraint, and I already had the Bulleit on hand. Instead, I’ve represented Japan by adding half an ounce of Tozai Snow Maiden Junmai Nigori Sake to one ounce each of bourbon, Cerasum and sweet vermouth.
Snow Maiden is a blend of two styles of sake. Junmai is slightly acidic, while Nigori is sweeter, creamier and thicker. Adding it gives the cocktail a roundness and body that balances the strength of the bourbon and the pleasantly bitter undercurrent of the Cerasum.
Although one would typically stir a boulevardier, I initially decide to shake mine because of the unfiltered sake [see photo], but I find the frothiness annoying and interruptive, so I go back to the traditional stir-and-strain approach, then pour my cocktail into a chilled coupe and garnish with three bourbon-soaked cherries. At last, I lift my glass to toast a friendship that has stood the test of time.