In the swankiest bars in Ginza, something like Tokyo’s answer to Mayfair, and the hole-in-the-wall spots of Shinjuku, cocktail making is something akin to an art form, with each ingredient carefully considered and every turn of the stirrer calculated. The same could be said of the distillation process behind Roku Gin, and these five twists on gin cocktails are designed to show off its distinctly Japanese botanicals: the citrus tang of yuzu, pronounced umami of gyokuro, the refreshing tang of sencha and subtle sweetness of sakura.
Sakura gin martini
Sakura (cherry blossom) is one of the six botanicals in Roku Gin, adding a subtle sweetness to any cocktail. When the sakura blooms across Japan, it’s a time of national celebration. So, this floral twist on the gin martini makes for the perfect festive libation, with a delightful hint of cherry from maraschino liqueur.
30ml Roku Gin
10ml maraschino liqueur
Pinch of salt
Cherry blossom or olive, to garnish (optional)
Pour the liquids in a cocktail shaker and shake. Stir in a pinch of salt. Pour into a martini glass and, if in season, add a bud of cherry blossom to garnish. Alternatively, garnish with an olive.
Ikigai’s yuzu smash
Luke Bensley, owner of Ikigai cocktail bar in Birmingham, came up with this medley of yuzu, lemon and sugar, hitting sweet and sour notes in equal balance. “This cocktail pairs beautifully with Roku as it uses yuzu, one of the main botanicals within the gin,” he says. “It’s a brilliantly zingy way to enjoy Roku Gin.” Taking the flavour profile of a gin sour, the yuzu smash adds a Japanese twist.
30ml Roku Gin
20ml yuzu sake
20ml lemon juice
15ml sugar syrup
Mint sprig, to garnish (optional)
Pour the liquids into a shaker full of ice. Shake hard for approximately 10 seconds. Strain through a fine mesh over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Shibuya Underground’s matcha tea gimlet
This Japanese twist on a gimlet comes courtesy of Sameul Boltoun – owner of Shibuya Underground in Birmingham. Usually, dry gin and lime syrup with a citrusy garnish make up this classic gin cocktail. However, Boltoun and the team at Shibuya Underground have created a take on the gimlet that complements Roku Gin perfectly, pairing it with a matcha-infused cordial. The bright green of the matcha tea syrup is aesthetically similar to the classic gimlet, but the taste is earthier.
For the matcha cordial
½ tsp matcha tea powder
½ tbsp lemon juice
For the umami oil
250ml olive oil
12g dried shiitake mushrooms
6g kombu kelp
4g dried seaweed
For the cocktail
50ml Roku Gin
20ml matcha cordial
Going to the trouble of making the umami oil several days in advance for this may seem like a pain, but it’s easily worth it for what it adds to the cocktail, as well as to any Japanese inspired dishes you fancy trying your hand at thereafter. To make the umami oil, place the shiitake mushrooms, kombu and seaweed in the base of a jar and pour in the olive oil. Leave for a few days (ideally a week) to infuse and remove the solid ingredients when ready to use. For the cordial, combine the matcha tea, a splash of lemon juice, sugar and water in a mixing jug stir and then strain through a coffee filter to clarify. Then, pour the gin and clarified matcha cordial over ice and stir. Finish with a drizzle of umami oil.
Chotto Matte’s wabi-sabi
Japan meets Peru in this lip-smackingly sweet and sour cocktail from Chotto Matte in London. The wabi-sabi is about balance, and the beauty of imperfection. This refreshing highball is fruity and sharp, with a honey-sweet hint. Its creator, Chotto Mate’s global bar manager, Gabor Fodor, says it was influenced by “the evolution of Nikkei cuisine” – the blending of Peruvian and Japanese flavours and styles. It has the puckering hit of a pisco sour, but the hint of bitterness brings out the sakura leaf in the Roku Gin.
30ml Roku Gin
10ml dry vermouth
Orange bitters, a dash
Lemon juice, a squeeze
½ tsp agave nectar
30ml grapefruit juice
Ito togarashi, to garnish (optional)
In a highball glass, pour in the gin, pisco, dry vermouth, a dash of orange bitters, lemon juice, agave nectar and grapefruit juice. Stir, add ice and top with lemonade to the brim. Stir again briefly and garnish with ito togarashi (fine strands of dried chilli) if available.
Roku Gin G&T with ginger
Sometimes simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Since Roku Gin is a fine balance of botanicals, a simple serve of premium tonic water, ice and fresh ginger matchsticks lets the carefully crafted gin speak for itself. Garnishing with the fiery snap of fresh ginger is a Japanese twist on the classic British drink.
50ml Roku Gin
Premium tonic water
Fresh ginger, sliced into matchsticks to garnish
Slice the fresh ginger into long equal slices. Fill a highball glass to the rim with ice and top with six ginger matchsticks. Pour the premium tonic over ice and add a stirrer. Pour in the gin and stir to balance the elements.
Roku is available to purchase from Sainsburys