As the days turn colder, this sunny sakura yuzu cocktail makes us nostalgic for warmer temperatures. Our newfound favorite happy hour treat is made with three Japanese standby ingredients: sake, yuzu juice, and sakura honey. Sake needs no introduction, but it's the unexpected combination of sweet sakura honey and sour yuzu that make this unconventional cocktail so refreshing.
Although they're relatively unknown in the U.S., yuzus are practically omnipresent throughout Japan. Yuzus are a type of East Asian citrus found in everything from juices to skincare products. With a tart taste not unlike a hybrid of a sour mandarin and lemon, a yuzu is rarely eaten as a stand-alone fruit, but its zest, juice, and peel are commonly used in many Japanese dishes. Yuzu has a sharp, aromatic taste that pairs well with clear spirits, and gives cocktails a refreshing kick.
The Sakura Yuzo Cocktail is also made with sakura honey syrup, which combines the subtle floral fragrance of Japanese cherry blossoms with the deep sweetness of honey. Sold by the bottle, this type of specialty honey is easily recognized by the single cherry blossom flower floating inside. Sakura honey syrup can be poured over yogurt or ice cream for a deliciously sweet treat- try it over Sunday pancakes for a refreshing alternative to maple syrup.
- 1/2 oz yuzu lemon juice
- 3/4 oz ounce sake
- 1-1/2 oz vodka
- 1/4 oz sakura honey syrup
As any good mixologist knows, a good cocktail is all in the ingredients. Though you can find a decent quality bottle of sake at your local liquor store, the flavors that make this drink special, like yuzu and Sakura Honey Syrup, are a little tougher to find. You can find Sakura Honey Syrup online or at your local specialty honey shop, but for non-purists, you can easily make regular honey syrup at home by mixing two parts honey with one part near-boiling water. Yuzu juice can be tricky to find outside of your local Asian market, but is easily substituted with your favorite citrus in a pinch.
To make this cocktail, simply mix all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, and strain into a coupe glass or tumbler. Then sit back, sip, and enjoy the tart sweetness.
WORDS BY MAGALI ROMAN