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The Voice of Tokyo for over 50 Years

JAPAN’S NO.1 ENGLISH LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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5 Original Japan-inspired Cocktail Recipes

Award-winning bartender Shun Kosaka shares five of his original Japan-inspired cocktail recipes

By Weekender Editor

Shun Kosaka spends most of his waking hours concocting new cocktail creations. Many of them aim to showcase a range of traditional Japanese ingredients: from sake and shochu to yuzu and locally crafted cider. Here are five of Kosaka’s innovative recipes, all — with the exception of the award-winning Hana Shigure — conceptualized and prepared exclusively for Made in Japan Vol 2, our latest special issue publication.

1. Hana Shigure 花しぐれ

This glittering pearly pink concoction wowed the judges at the 2022 Honkaku Shochu and Awamori Cocktail Competition, and we’re sure it will impress you too. It’s sweet, revitalizing and a welcome reminder that spring will return once again.

Ingredients

  • Daiyame (imo shochu) 30ml
  • Aphrodite Sakura 15ml
  • Bols Parfait Amour 5ml
  • 1883 Maison Routin Lemon Syrup 10ml
  • Hinoki bitters 2 dashes
  • Narutomaki beet slice to garnish
  • Lime peel to garnish

Steps

  1. Add shochu, sakura liqueur, syrups and bitters to a mixer and shake 
  2. Pour into glass
  3. Dress it up with a beet slice cut into the shape of a cherry blossom and a lime peel shaped into a leaf. Place them on the rim of the glass and serve

2. Suzuran 涼藍

A perfect summer cooler, this magical potion changes color before your eyes. Seilan’s blue sake uses butterfly pea, which transforms into a delicate violet with the addition of more acidic ingredients. Serve in an Arita ware cup to maintain that refreshing feel.

Ingredients

  • Seilan (sake) 60ml
  • Kanade Yuzu 15ml
  • Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth 5ml
  • Lemon peel to twist
  • Hojiso flowers to garnish

Steps

  1. Mix sake, yuzu and vermouth together
  2. Pour into a glass, then twist the lemon peel over — swirl it if you’re feeling fancy
  3. Garnish with dried flowers and serve

3. Mellow Moon メロームーン

This surprisingly smooth tipple showcases shochu’s versatility. It starts out as a cloudy white color mixture — reminiscent of the gentle glow of the moon — before gradually turning transparent. Best served in a tall, clear glass for ultimate effect.

Ingredients

  • Sengetsu 
  • (kome shochu) 45ml
  • Lemon juice 15ml
  • Homemade rice pepper syrup  10ml
  • Daigo Umai Rice Cider as needed
  • Lemon peel to garnish

Steps

  1. Add Sengetsu, lemon juice and rice pepper to a cocktail mixer and shake
  2. Pour into a glass and top with cider to taste
  3. Garnish with a lemon peel cut into the shape of a crescent moon

4. Ryukyu & Coke 琉球 & コーク

Rum and Coke gets an Okinawan upgrade using awamori and homemade craft cola syrup. Serve in an Edo kiriko whisky glass to add that little bit of extra Nippon style to your drink. The ensui (salt water) spray is optional, but Kosaka’s mixture has the same salt content as the oceans of Okinawa so you can transport yourself to southern tropical beaches with each sip.

Ingredients

  • Danryu koshu (awamori) 40ml
  • Homemade cola syrup 10ml
  • Carbonated water as needed
  • Lemon wedge one wedge
  • Salt water one spray

Steps

  1. Add the awamori and the cola syrup to a mixer and shake
  2. Pour into a glass, then add carbonated water to taste
  3. Squeeze the lemon wedge over the drink and pop it into the drink
  4. Spray a dash of salt water and then serve

5. Japanese Vesper ジャパニーズヴエスパー

Another Japanese rendition of a classic cocktail, Kosaka’s interpretation uses both mugi and imo shochu to deepen the ties with Japan. The yuzu mixture adds a complexity that lemon cannot achieve, and together with the Lillet Blanc creates depth to the overall flavor. Try it in a long-stemmed Edo kiriko glass to further strengthen the Japan connection.

Ingredients

  • Nikaido Kitchomu (mugi shochu) 40ml
  • Fuutan (imo shochu with kuro koji) 10ml
  • Lillet Blanc (mixed with roasted rice and yuzu peel) 10ml
  • Lemon peel to garnish

Steps

  1. Add the mugi shochu, imo shochu and Lillet Blanc blend to a mixer and shake well
  2. Pour into a glass and garnish with a lemon peel swirl

 


 

Would you rather leave the mixing to a professional? Head to Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo’s Aurora Sky Lounge for personal service and a view of the sprawling city below. 

Aurora Sky Lounge
45F Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku

 

Recipes by Shun Kosaka. Photos by Anna Petek.