Second Draft

A cocktail, ’cause it’s that kind of week

Posted in Drink by Jill Snider Lum on Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Michael’s working on another post about collaboration, but it’s not quite ready to put up yet, Work having intervened.  So in the meantime, I’d like to introduce you to a cocktail that uses two ingredients I first tried when staying at the Hirota Guest House in Kyoto:  shochu, and yuzu.

Shochu is a distilled spirit, not a brewed product like sake.  We have a few — a pitiful few — varieties of shochu available to us in Canada, and one or two types of Korean sochu which, while pleasant, is not quite the same thing.  So visiting the liquor shop near our guest house in Kyoto was a revelation.  They stocked dozens of different types of shochu, made from all kinds of ingredients.  Michael, Lorna and I tried a different one every evening and barely scratched the surface of what was available.  The variations in flavour were remarkable, as distinctive as those in different kinds of single-malt Scotch.

Earlier in the week, hunting up a hostess gift for Hirota-san — the lady who ran the guest house — we visited the nearest department store.  That was an experience in itself, and one that deserves its own blog entry at some future date.  Just seeing the food floor of that department store made me feel as though I had come from a backward and somewhat uncivilized nation.  Among the many thousands of delights on display was a section of liqueurs, presided over by a politely-smiling lady who was giving out free samples.  (Free samples of alcohol, in a department store.  See?  Intensely civilized.)  Noticing us as obviously being From Away, she offered us a taste of liqueur made from yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit.  It tasted like an orange, a lemon, a lime, and a tangerine, with little hints of grapefruit in the background.  We were delighted, and bought a bottle of it.  Hirota-san herself was so pleased with it that she told us she was going to place it on her family’s altar for a while before drinking it herself.  It was pretty gratifying to know we’d given her something that would even make her ancestors happy.

The recipe below uses yuzu juice, which is available at many Japanese and Asian grocery stores.  Don’t know if your ancestors will like this cocktail, but I hope you will.

Kyoto Guest House

1.5  – 2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. shochu
2 good dashes yuzu juice

Mix ingredients in a glass over ice cubes.  Fill with soda water.


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