Cocktails are a fantastic way to introduce saké to imbibers. Bartenders often incorporate saké into cocktails because it can breathe new life into classic drinks and introduce the category to those who might not have tried it on its own.
Both clear and cloudy varieties are used to make delicious concoctions. In clear saké, its fermented solids have been completely removed from the liquid, leaving it free of sediment. With cloudy saké, also known as nigori, dissolved rice sediment is reintegrated into the clear saké which creates a rich, creamy mouthfeel.
Nigori can help round out cocktails with sweet, sour or savory notes, especially useful for guests with dairy-free diets. “One of my favorite nigori cocktails includes gin, white vermouth, a hint of citrus and an herb sprig,” says Tiffanie Barriere, owner of The Drinking Coach. “Nigori’s creamy texture and fruity notes not only enhance the cocktail’s flavor, but also complements the other ingredients. The color looks wonderful in any glass.”
Clear or filtered saké is different because its low-alcohol by volume (ABV) makes it a great alternative base to any cocktail that usually calls for high-proof spirits. This is essential for guests who don’t love the boozy flavor of strong drinks.
“It’s important to match the profile of clear saké to the drink,” says Monica Samuels, VP of Sake and Spirits at Komé Collective. “One way to make a great warm weather, low ABV-style cocktail is to mix clear saké with cold-brewed fruit tea, mint leaves, and serve it over frozen fruit chunks instead of ice cubes.”
So, if you are looking to try something new, add a little Far East flavor to your cocktail glass.
This article originally appeared in the May 2022 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!