Shake Up Your Drinking Routine with these Easy Sake Cocktails

sake cocktails

train suite shiki shima journey to japan banner smallSake, like any alcohol, is great on its own. Made from rice — and typically seen as a rice wine, though it has more in common with beer and brewing than wine — the multiple varieties and flavors can keep you busy for a long time if you were looking to just drink it on its own.

(Never had it before? Didn’t know that there were varieties of sake beyond “the hot stuff I get at the sushi joint on my block”? Check out our list of the best sakes for beginners.)

However, it’s also great in cocktails. The aforementioned array of styles help create a wide range of abilities when mixing up drinks. In order to show off some of that range, we asked Haru Zenda, who is a certified Sake Sommelier, of Sushi by Bou under the Sanctuary Hotel in New York City to show us some of his favorite, easy-to-make sake cocktails.

Golden Pavilion

golden pavilion
  • 3.5 oz namazake
  • 0.25 oz honey syrup*
  • 0.25 oz ginger liqueur

Method: Stir on ice. Strain. Serve straight up and garnish with floral card.

*Honey syrup

  • 1 part honey
  • 1 part water

Method: Cook until all is dissolved together. Set aside to cool.

Matsu Martini

Method: Rub rosemary sprig around the rim of a glass. Stir on ice. Strain. Serve straight up with the rosemary.

Blueberry-Rosemary Sake Sangria

  • 3 oz junmai sake
  • 0.25 oz lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz blueberry-rosemary syrup*
  • Splash of soda
  • Blueberries and rosemary to garnish

Method: Serve on ice in a tumbler glass. Top with a splash of soda, Garnish with fresh blueberries and a rosemary sprig.

*Blueberry-rosemary syrup

  • 100 grams (around 3.5 oz) blueberries
  • 6-7 rosemary sprigs
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water

Method: Cook until all is dissolved.  Keep simmering until color and flavor is added to the syrup.  Strain and set aside to cool.

Mitarashi Dango

mitarashi dango

Method: Put caramel on half the glass. Put pink peppercorn on a part of the caramel.  Shake and pour nigori sake into glass.

*Soy Sauce Caramel

  • 0.5 cup water
  • 0.25 cup sugar
  • 0.125 (1/8) cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp potato starch
  • 0.5 tbsp rice vinegar

Method: Cook until all is dissolved together. Set aside to cool.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of The Manual’s larger Journey to Japan travel guide. Over the course of a month, our writers had the pleasure of experiencing Japan in all its forms, from high-rise bars in Tokyo to traditional tea ceremonies in Kyoto. We hope this series will not only inform, but inspire you to take your own trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.