Matcha Gimlets for Sakura Martinis: Five Japan-Inspired Gin Cocktails | Japanese craft gin

At Ginza’s hippest bars, something like Tokyo’s answer to Mayfair, and Shinjuku’s wall-to-wall splashes, cocktail-making is something akin to an art form, carefully considering each ingredient and calculating every turn of the agitator. The same can be said of the distillation process behind Roku Gin, and these five twists in gin cocktails are designed to bring out signature Japanese botanicals: the citrus zest in Yuzu-pronounced umami GyokoroRefreshing tang Sensha and subtle sweetness Sakura.

Sakura Jane Martini

Sakura (cherry blossom) is one of the six botanicals in Roku Gin, adding a subtle sweetness to any cocktail. When the sakura blossoms bloom all over Japan, it is a time of national celebration. So, this floral twist on the gin martini makes for the perfect festive treat, with a delightful touch of cherry from the maraschino liqueur.

serves 1

30 ml Rocco Gen
20 ml sake
10 ml Maraschino liqueur
a pinch of salt
cherry blossom or olive,
to decorate (optional)

Cherry blossom decorations complement the botanicals on this Sakura Gin Martini. Photo: Clive Nichols/Getty Images

Pour liquids into cocktail syrup and shake. Add a pinch of salt. Pour into a martini glass and, if you’re in season, add cherry blossom buds for garnish. Instead, garnish with olives.

Smashing Yuzu Ikegai

Luke Bensley, owner of Birmingham’s Ikigai Cocktail Bar, created this blend of yuzu, lemon and sugar, capturing sweet and sour notes in equal balance. “This cocktail pairs beautifully with Roku because it uses yuzu, one of the main plants in gin,” he says. “It’s a great way to enjoy Roku Gin.” Taking on the flavor of sour gin, yuzu smash adds a Japanese touch.

serves 1

30 ml Rocco Gen
20 mL of yuzu
20 ml of lemon juice
15 ml of sugar syrup
sprig mint,
to decorate (optional)

Pour liquids into a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds. Strain through a fine mesh over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Matcha Tea Dripper from Shibuya Underground

This cool Japanese touch comes from Samuel Bolton – owner of Shibuya Underground in Birmingham. Typically, dry gin and lime syrup with citrus garnish make up this classic gin cocktail. However, Boltoun and the team at Shibuya Underground have created a great way to perfectly complement Roku Gin, combining it with matcha syrup. The bright green color of the matcha tea drink is aesthetically similar to the classic bean, but the taste is more earthy.

serves 1

friendly matcha
100 ml of water
Half a teaspoon of matcha tea powder
Half a tablespoon of lemon juice
85 grams of sugar

for umami oil
250 ml olive oil
12 grams of dried shiitake mushrooms
6 grams of kombu kelp
4g of dried seaweed

for cocktail
50 ml Rocco Gen
20 ml of matcha tea
Umami oil

Going to the trouble of making umami oil several days in advance for this may seem like a pain, but it’s easily worth it for what it adds to cocktails, as well as whatever Japanese-inspired dishes you fancy trying afterwards. To make the umami oil, place the shiitake mushrooms, kombu and seaweed in the base of a jar and pour over the olive oil. Leave for a few days (preferably a week) to infuse and remove the solid ingredients when ready to use. To drink, matcha tea is combined with a little lemon juice, sugar, and water in a mixing pitcher and then filtered through a coffee filter for clarification. Then pour the gin and strained matcha over ice and stir. We finish with a drizzle of umami oil.

Wabi sabi chotu mate

Japan meets Peru in this delicious sweet and sour cocktail from London’s Chotto Matte. Wabi sabi is about balance and the beauty of imperfection. This refreshing ball is fruity and sharp, with a hint of honey. Gabor Fodor, global bar director at Chotto Mate, says he’s been influenced by the “evolution of Nikkei cuisine” — a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese flavors and styles. It has the crunchy hit of pisco acid, but the hint of bitterness brings out the sakura leaf in Roku Gin.

serves 1

30 ml Rocco Gen
20 ml pisco
10 ml of dry liquor
bitter orange,
Lemon juice, pressure
½ teaspoon agave nectar
30 ml grapefruit juice
Ito Togarashi,
to decorate (optional)

Into a large glass, pour the gin, pisco, dry vermouth, a splash of bitter orange, lime juice, agave nectar and grapefruit juice. Stir, add ice, and top with lemon juice to the brim. Stir again briefly and garnish with ito togarashi (fine strands of dried pepper) if available.

Roku Gin bottle
Gingerbread matches add a twist to the classic G&T

Roku Gin G & T with Ginger

Sometimes simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication. Since Roku Gin is a fine balance of botanicals, a simple serving of premium tonic water, ice, and fresh ginger matches lets the carefully crafted gin speak for itself. The fiery garnish of fresh ginger is a Japanese twist on the classic British brew.

serves 1

50 ml Rocco Gen
Excellent tonic water
fresh ginger,
Cut into matches to decorate

Cut fresh ginger into long, equal slices. Fill a highball glass to the brim with ice and top with six gingerbread matches. Pour premium tonic over ice and add a stirrer. Pour in the gin and stir to balance the elements.

Roku is available to buy from Sainsburys

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