10 Reasons Why Yuzu Should Be Your New Favorite Cocktail Ingredient

yuzu fruit citrus
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If you’ve eaten in an authentic Japanese restaurant or been to a Japanese-style cocktail bar, you’ve likely had yuzu. But the sweet, tangy citrus fruit is becoming more popular across the United States, so it’s possible you’ve tried it in restaurants serving other types of cuisine, too. Yuzu grows on upright shrubs or small trees and has a bumpy, yellow skin. The flavor is sweet and tart, almost like a cross between a grapefruit and an orange. In Japan, yuzu is used to make things like citrus-based ponzu sauce, yuzu vinegar, and the spicy condiment yuzu kosho. It’s also become a very popular ingredient in cocktails as the main source of citrus.

“I haven’t tried all [spirits] with yuzu, but some of my favorites are gin and sake,” says Kenta Goto, the owner and bartender behind New York City’s Bar Goto. While we’ve found plenty of cocktails that employ those two spirits, things like rum, whiskey, and tequila also play nicely with the citrus juice. Here are 10 yuzu cocktails from the pros to mix up at home.

Yuzu-Sansho Sour

Yuzu-Sansho Sour

(Created by Kenta Goto, Bar Goto)

  • 2 oz sansho-pepper infused gin*
  • .75 oz lemon juice
  • .75 oz cane syrup
  • 2 tsp yuzu marmalade
  • Sansho leaf, for garnish

Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin. Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with kinome (sansho leaf).

*For the sansho-pepper-infused gin:

Method: Steep the sansho pepper in the gin for 15 minutes and strain.

Sole Rosso

Sole Rosso

(Courtesy of Scarpetta by Scott Conant, Fontainebleau Miami Beach)

Method: Add all liquid ingredients to a shaker tin with ice. Shake and strain into a snifter glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with a skewer of candied lime wheels.

Yuzu-Shio Daiquiri

Yuzu-Shio Daiquiri
Jordis Unga

(Created by Masahiro Urushido, Katana Kitten, New York City)

Method: Add all liquid ingredients to a shaker tin with ice. Shake and strain into a frozen coupe glass. Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel.

*For the shio-koji pandan syrup

  • 500 grams sugar
  • 500 grams water
  • 1 whole pandan leaf
  • Shio-koji (Japanese salted koji condiment for cooking)

Method: First, make pandan syrup. On a stove, heat up sugar and water in a saucepan. Once sugar is dissolved and right before simmering, add pandan leaf and remove from heat. Cover and let it cool down. Strain. Add shio-koji at five percent of the weight of pandan syrup, then blend them all together in a blender. Keep refrigerated until use.

Sakura Spritz

Sakura Spritz
Bourbon Steak

(Created by Sarah Rosner, Bourbon Steak, Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C.)

  • 2 oz Roku Gin
  • .75 oz raw honey syrup
  • .5 oz Lindera Farm’s Cherry Blossom Vinegar
  • .5 oz yuzu juice
  • Fever Tree Soda, to top
  • Lemon peel, to garnish
  • Cherry blossoms, to garnish (optional)

Method: Combine the first four ingredients in a shaker tin with ice. Shake until chilled, strain into a wine glass and top with the soda. Express a lemon peel over the drink and drop it in the glass. Garnish with cherry blossoms if available and in season.

Blood Brothers

Blood Brothers

(Created by Salvatore Tafuri, The Terrace and Outdoor Gardens at The Times Square Edition)

Method: Build in a Collins glass with ice and garnish with a grapefruit peel.

Violet Beauregarde

Violet Beauregarde
Kyle Everett

(Created by Brittni Motyka, District Local, New York City)

  • 1.5 oz Cocoa butter-washed tequila*
  • .75 oz Velvet Falernum
  • .5 oz blueberry puree
  • .5 oz lime juice
  • 3 dashes yuzu juice
  • Micro shiso, for garnish (optional)

Method: Pour the blueberry puree in the glass and fill with crushed ice. In a shaker, combine cocoa butter-washed tequila, Velvet Falernum, lime juice, and three dashes of yuzu juice and shake. Strain over crushed ice and garnish with micro shiso if available.

*For the cocoa butter-washed tequila

  • 6 liters silver tequila
  • 1 lb cocoa butter

Method: Melt cocoa butter on the stove. Pour silver tequila into quart containers and pour even amounts of cocoa butter into each one. Cover them and shake vigorously. Let it sit overnight at just above room temperature, allowing the cocoa butter to continue to infuse. Then store in a freezer for at least four hours so that the cocoa butter floats to the top and solidifies into a disc. Peel off the cocoa butter and melt it back down and repeat the whole process. The next day, double strain the tequila to remove any remaining pieces of cocoa butter and bottle it.

Pop Art Cocktail

Pop Art Cocktail
The Watergate Hotel

(Created by Rachel Sergi, The Next Whisky Bar at The Watergate Hotel, Washington D.C.)

  • 1.5 oz Roku Gin
  • .5 oz Midori
  • .75 oz Yuzu-shiso cordial*
  • .25 oz lemon juice
  • Seltzer water, to top
  • 1 shiso leaf, for garnish

Method: Add the Roku Gin, Midori, Yuzu-Shiso Cordial and lemon juice to a highball or Collins glass over ice. Insert a long mixing spoon into the glass, along the side and to the bottom. Pour the seltzer down the length of the spoon in the glass, and fill to a quarter inch from the top. Give the mixture a quick stir. Carefully add the shiso leaf garnish and enjoy.

*Yuzu-shiso cordial

  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1 2.2-lb package Boiron Yuzu Puree
  • 4 shiso leaves

Method: Place the white sugar, yuzu purée and shiso leaves in a medium-large saucepan over high heat. Stir the mixture thoroughly, and agitate with a whisk to break up the shiso leaves somewhat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer until it is one-quarter reduced, approximately 10 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, and strain out the shiso leaves. Once cooled, transfer to a container for storage.

Yuzukosho Daisy

Yuzukosho Daisy

(Courtesy of The Alley Cat Amateur Theatre)

Method: Rim a rocks glass with a mix of chili flakes and salt. Add ingredients to a shaker tin with ice. Shake and strain into the rocks glass.

*For the chili tincture: Fill a quart container with halved habanero chilies. Fill the container with a high proof neutral grain spirit, such as Everclear. Wait three days, shaking the container every day. Strain using a double strainer and taste for level of heat. Thin with vodka if it’s too spicy.

Seven Spice Sour

Seven Spice Sour
Eric Medsker

(Created by Don Lee, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York City)

  • 2 oz Sachimi Sake*
  • .75 oz simple syrup
  • .5 oz lime juice
  • .25 oz yuzu juice

Method: Build the ingredients in a mixing tin, add ice, and shake vigorously so that ice breaks slightly. Strain into a small rocks glass.

*For the sachimi sake

  • 1 1.8 l Akitabare Lucky Peach Momofuku Sake
  • 25 g Shichimi Togarashi

Method: Infuse the togarashi in the sake for five minutes and strain with a coffee filter.

Frozen Yuzu Sake

Frozen Yuzu Sake

(Courtesy of Ani Ramen House Jersey City)

  • 1.5 oz sake
  • .5 oz Aviation Gin
  • .5 oz lemon juice
  • .25 oz yuzu juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup
  • 1 cup ice

Method: Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until fully mixed.

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