Jealous of those photos infiltrating your social media feeds of friends slurping copious amounts of ramen, sipping on sake with gyoza and chasing whisky highballs with delicious yakitori and karaage? Don’t go chasing those cherry blossoms just yet…you can get a taste of Japan right here in Brisbane at Sake Restaurant & Bar, known for its fresh and contemporary Japanese eats and exemplary drinks list.
I recently had the opportunity to watch and learn the tricks of the cocktail trade from Sake’s master bartender Steven Fanning. Steven has travelled and worked all over the world as a chef and bartender – from Montreal to the Caribbean and now to Brisbane – and has drawn upon his experiences and inspiration from native Japanese ingredients to create a masterful cocktail list for Sake.
We watched Steven concoct three cocktails – the Saint Tropez, Lolita Fashion and Yuzu Sour. All feature Japanese ingredients which Sake have specially imported from Japan but with very different contrasting flavours. Though all had elements similar to traditional cocktail favourites, each had its own unusual twist. Additionally, Steven has thoughtfully paired them with items from Sake’s extensive menu to make the choice easy for us!
Though all absolutely delicious, my favourite would have to be the Yuzu Sour with Yuzu Sake, Choya Kokuto Umeshu (plum wine), Yuzu (an Asian citrus fruit) juice, egg white and sugar syrup, garnished with a lemon twist, banana leaf grass and a yama momo berry. The Yama Momo berry, also known as a Japanese Mountain Peach, is similar in size to a cherry but with a flavour both sweet and sour – epitomising the cocktail as a whole. The airy tartness made it the perfect complement to the richer juicy pork belly and chicken skewers, char grilled to perfection on Sake’s robata (Japanese binchotan charcoal grill).
Although I thoroughly recommend you head in to Sake with your lady friends to have the team expertly concoct your cocktails for you, Sake have generously shared the recipes for all three cocktails so you can try and replicate these creations at home. However, I suspect that you might have a little difficulty sourcing some of those ingredients at the supermarket!
30ml Tanqueray Gin
20ml yuzu sake (or limoncello)
10ml Noily Prat vermouth
15ml vanilla syrup
6 large fresh basil leaves
Garnish: Small basil leaf
METHOD: Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously.
Double strain. Garnish with small floating basil leaf. Best paired with fresh sashimi & Sake’s signature S Express sushi roll
90ml yuzu sake
15ml Choya Kokuto Umeshu
15ml yuzu juice (or lemon/lime)
15ml egg white
10ml gomme (sugar syrup)
Garnish: Lemon twist, banana leaf grass, and yama momo berry
METHOD: Dry shake yuzu sake, Choya Kokuto Umeshu, yuzu juice, gomme and egg white.
Re-shake with ice. Double strain into rocks glass over a few ice cubes. Place 1 gram square cube on top.
Garnish with lemon twist, banana leaf grass, and yama momo berry. Best paired with brined pork belly & chicken negima skewers from the robata
45ml Suntory Kakubin Whisky
20ml honey umeshu
Fee Bros Orange bitters
Garnish: Umeshu plum & twist of orange
METHOD: Stir whisky, umeshu and orange bitters over ice. Double strain over 1 gram sphere of ice. Garnish with plum and orange twist. Best paired with the Nashi pear frangipane tart