As bartenders\u00a0continue looking for\u00a0inspiration in Japan\u2019s drinking culture and ingredients like\u00a0sak\u00e9\u00a0and Japanese whisky,\u00a0umeshu,\u00a0a tangy-sweet\u00a0spirit\u00a0also\u00a0known as plum wine\u00a0in the U.S., has found a place in cocktails.\u00a0It\u00a0adds\u00a0sweetness and a whisper of fruit\u00a0to\u00a0an array of drinks.\r\n\r\nAt\u00a0New\u00a0York\u00a0City\u2019s Katana Kitten,\u00a0co-owner Masa\u00a0Urushido\u00a0uses\u00a0umeshu\u00a0in a Negroni riff called the\u00a0Meguroni, where it stands up to the malty notes of\u00a0genever.\r\n\r\nUrushido\u202fnotes that the moniker \u201cplum wine\u201d is a bit deceiving. Umeshu\u202fliterally translates to plum (ume), and liquor (shu).\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s not technically wine because you\u2019re not fermenting the\u202fume,\u201d he says. Instead, it\u2019s made by macerating plums in a lower-alcohol spirit, often\u00a0shochu, and then\u00a0sweetened\u00a0with slow-dissolving rock sugar.\r\n\r\nUrushido\u00a0sees\u00a0umeshu\u00a0as \u201cbetween a cordial and a vermouth,\u201d since\u00a0it has similar alcohol levels (around 10\u201314% abv)\u00a0and adds\u00a0both sweetness and mild acidity. He compares the nuances of plum wine to the herbs and spices\u00a0that\u00a0flavor vermouth.\r\n\r\nBartenders\u00a0often\u00a0mix\u00a0umeshu\u00a0with other Japanese ingredients.\u00a0At Chicago\u2019s Pacific Standard Time, it\u2019s sometimes\u00a0paired\u00a0with\u00a0shochu, Japanese whisky and celery in the Imo\u00a0Muji\u00a0cocktail.\r\n\r\nIn\u00a0Washington,\u00a0D.C.\u2019s Columbia Room, it\u00a0has\u00a0been\u00a0used to round out a\u00a0Martini-like sipper\u00a0that\u00a0features\u00a0shiso-infused\u00a0sak\u00e9\u00a0for a\u00a0seasonal\u00a0\u201cJapanese-Inspired Spring Tasting Room\u201d menu.\r\n\r\nMeanwhile, back in\u00a0Japan,\u00a0Urushido says\u00a0that\u00a0plum wine is likely to be served more simply, over ice\u00a0in a cordial glass.\u00a0It\u2019s\u00a0also\u00a0offered as an\u00a0umeshu\u00a0soda, a classic highball served in a glass mug over ice and topped up with soda water.\r\nMeguroni Recipe\r\n\u201cMeguro is one of 23 districts of Tokyo, a place I used to live near,\u201d says\u00a0Urushido. He opts for a robust \u201ccocktail\u00a0umeshu\u201d for this\u00a0Negroni\u00a0variation, made with an aged rum base and brown sugar.\u00a0Its\u00a0deeper flavor stands up to the malty\u00a0genever\u00a0and red bitter.\r\n\r\nCourtesy Masa Urushido, co-owner, Katana Kitten, New York City.\r\n\r\nIn mixing glass, stir together\u00a01 ounce\u00a0Old Duff\u00a0Genever, \u00be ounce\u00a0Choya\u00a0Kokuto\u00a0Umeshu, \u00be ounce\u00a0Caffo\u00a0Red\u00a0Bitter\u00a0and\u00a0ice. Strain into rocks glass over large ice cube. Garnish with\u00a0lemon peel.