Bartenders Choice: Hakushu Cocktail

A week ago I discussed how Yamazaki whisky can replace Scotch in cocktails. This week I am going to show you how Hakushu can be used as a replacement for cognac in a certain popular cocktail.

Whisky is used to make a wide variety of cocktails. Of all the possibilities, the Sidecar is perhaps the most difficult, truly testing the skills and imagination of the bartender.

The Sidecar is thought to be originally from England. Recipes differ from country to country, but a common mixture is 30ml cognac, 15 ml White Curaçao, and 15ml lemon juice. In Japan, however, we often make it with whisky and call it a Whisky Sidecar.

And why on earth would such a simple mix be so difficult to get right? The answer is quite simple: If done wrong, a whisky sidecar simply does not taste all that good. Hardly anybody mixes whisky with White Curaçao and lemon juice. Since the drink is usually made with cognac, one must make the whisky taste like brandy.

Perhaps some readers might be wondering why on earth anybody would want to replace cognac with whisky and then make it taste like cognac. The answer is simple: Japanese people love a challenge. They love trying to improve on original ideas. And they have been experimenting with cocktails for decades. So when someone got the idea to make a Sidecar with whisky, it took a few tries but the result is equal to or better than the original in my view.

So how do we make this cocktail right? The whisky we use is Suntory Hakushu. First we mix 45ml of Hakushu with 15ml of Cointreau. We don’t add lemon juice here, but we do add the peel to the mixing glass. Then the mixture is stirred (not shaken) — we put the spoon into the mixing glass and stir it 42–43 times. Though made differently from the average Sidecar, this cocktail tastes just as good, and you will notice the taste of the Hakushu.

What are you waiting for? Grab a bottle and start experimenting!