I’ve always wanted to enjoy sake. I have tried it warm and cold, over the years, but never loved it. Friends always said, “drink the really good stuff and you will love it.” They were wrong. Straight-up sake always struck me as too medicinal. For me personally, hard alcohol is always tricky. Even when it’s the “good stuff,” I don’t typically enjoy it straight. And if you have read any of my posts on cocktails, you’ll know I picky about mixed drinks too. If I am going to indulge in a cocktail, I want it to be a great one. I prefer my drinks more tart than sweet, and with something interesting. With this in mind, I decided to revisit sake, determined to find a way to really enjoy it. Mission accomplished. Meet my sake lemon drop, sweet, tart and super smooth.
A traditional lemon drop is a vodka-based cocktail with a sweet and sour lemony flavor–typically made using fresh lemon juice, triple sec and simple syrup. In this recipe, I replace the vodka with sake and I drop the Triple Sec, which can be heavy and cloying. Sake, or Japanese rice wine, is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting rice that has been “polished” to remove the bran. Sake is produced by a brewing process more similar to beer than wine. In this process, starch gets converted into sugars which ferment and create. Sake is typically about 40 proof, making it about half as potent as spirits like whiskey or vodka, but approximately twice as potent as many wines. Like wine, sake comes in many distinct flavors, most on the lighter side. Since revisiting sake, I’ve learned a couple of things: (1) I like sake chilled rather than warm, and (2) adding citrus to complement the fragrant floral flavors enhances sake’s appeal to me. This cocktail was a simple, fun experiment and in the end I learned to enjoy something I have been fascinated with for so long.
Sake Lemon Drop
- 3 ounces dry sake
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- Step 1 Place a good amount of ice in a cocktail shaker. Add the sake, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds.
- Step 2 Pour the cocktail into a small coupe glass and serve.