Sake, a low-proof Japanese alcoholic beverage usually served either hot or cold by itself, can break with tradition and mix with other ingredients. Made from fermented rice, sake is mistakenly called a rice wine when it is in fact more similar to beer due to its fermentation process. Sake’s distinct flavors and texture combine well with both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages for daring and delicious cocktails.
Sake’s faint flavors mix well with both fruit and vegetable juices. A simple fruit juice and sake mixed drink is the rising sun, which is a variation on a tequila sunrise — fill a collins glass with ice, then add 4 parts each sake and orange juice and 1 part grenadine. A good sake and vegetable juice cocktail is a bloody maru, which substitutes sake for vodka in a bloody Mary: Mix sake with tomato juice, hot sauce, horseradish and spices, or add a shot to your favorite bloody Mary mix.
Sake also acts as a strong base for different types of bar and drink mixes including sour and pina colada mixes. One sour mix and sake cocktail is the kabuki, which is 4 parts sake, 2 parts each sour mix and triple sec and 1 part sweetened lime juice; the Mount Fuji, another option, comrises 4 parts each sake and sour mix and 1 part triple sec. A more adventurous sake cocktail is the white mountain, a blended drink with equal parts sake, half-and-half and pina colada mix.
Low-proof alcoholic beverages like beer and fortified wine also go well with sake in mixed drinks. One of the most familiar sake-based drinks is the sake bomb, which is a shot of 1 part sake dropped into 6 parts Japanese beer. Both sweet and dry vermouths, which are fortified wines, are ingredients in many sake-based cocktails, including the haiku — a shot of sake and a splash of dry vermouth served up — and the Ginza strip — a martini with 1 shot of sake and a few dashes of both bitters and sweet vermouth.
Liquors like gin and vodka mix well with sake for some tasty cocktails. Gin and sake cocktails include the saketini, which is 1 part sake and 6 parts gin chilled and served up; and the Hokkaido cocktail, which is 1 part triple sec, 2 parts sake and 3 parts gin. Vodka also blends well with sake in drinks like the Osaka dry, a variation of the saketini in which vodka substitutes for the gin; and plum saketini, which is 2 parts each pineapple juice and plum-flavored vodka and 1 part sake chilled and served up.
References and ResourcesThe Sake Companion; John Gauntne
The Big Book of Martinis for Moms; Rose Maura Lorre and Mavis Lamb