We’re halfway through summer, and it’s been a great one so far. The United Kingdom is enjoying one of the hottest summers in history, the West Coast is warm and comfortable, and in Japan, the humidity and heat makes one long for a refreshing, frosty beverage.
No matter where you are in the world, summer is a time for beach holidays, cocktails, and good times. Even if you aren’t getting away, the warm weather can be enjoyed from the rooftop of your apartment building or the nearest city park.
Regardless of how you are enjoying your summer, there’s always time for a refreshing drink or two, so why not make it Japanese? Here are our top picks for the Japanese spirits of summer 2018 and how to enjoy them.
Hakushu 12-Year-Old & Soda
We’re fans of keeping things simple. A good whisky should be enjoyed straight, with some water or ice, or in this case, in a Japanese whisky highball.
The movement of the two-ingredient cocktail is spreading across the globe, as bartenders in Europe, the US, and Asia seek to emulate the cocktail popularized in Japan in recent years. Utilizing their stellar attention to detail, Japanese bartenders turned the highball into art, adding each ingredient at different intervals, stirring the concoction a specific number of times, and serving the frosty beverage in style. Now, it may be difficult to emulate these honed techniques at home, but you can still enjoy a lovely Hakushu highball while sun-bathing on your front lawn.
The signature Hakushu notes of peppermint, green apples, and summer fruit are all you need this summer.
Ki No Tea Gin & Tonic
By Japan’s very first craft gin distillery the Ki No Tea is the product of a collaboration between the distillery in Kyoto and one of the city’s oldest tea growers, Hori-Shichimeien, which was founded in the Meiji era in 1879.
The tea leaves are harvested and then carefully blended, using the distillery’s signature method of distilling each botanical group separately before blending them together.
With a dash of tonic the Ki No Tea bring forth notes of rich matcha, white chocolate, and the refreshing yet subtle presence of citrus fruits. Alternatively, add a few ice cubes and experience the full, undiluted burst of botanicals and green tea straight from the distiller’s hands. Use the rest of the bottle for Martinis and other gin-based cocktails, and your evening is sorted.
For the best results enjoy on a warm midsummer night with friends.
Yamazaki Umeshu & Water
Enjoying umeshu, Japanese plum wine, in the traditional mizuwari style is perfect for lovers of sweet and sour, yet light beverages.
The Suntory umeshu variety, in particular, offers further depth through maturation in Yamazaki oak casks. The wood imparts notes of smoke and vanilla to the plum wine, rounding out the sweet profile. Make sure to try the expression straight before adding anything to it, in order to experience the traditional Japanese liqueur in its purest form.
Then get experimenting. Umeshu can be enjoyed with soda, water, ice, and in cocktails. Throw in juice, fruit, and liqueur and who knows, you might just create the next world famous Japanese cocktail after the highball.
We hope the concoctions above will help you enjoy the summer even more than you have been. Are there any amazing cocktails you’ve come across featuring Japanese spirits and drinks? If so, let us know in the comments below so we can give them a try.