Living in a state that definitely has a winter season, we always are looking forward to the arrival of spring, the warm days letting us get back outside and enjoy the sunny days. Here in Omaha, spring seems to be making an early return, with warm sunny days helping get the spring flowers started. Just down the street, a cherry tree has blossomed and is covered in beautiful pink flowers which adds a real splash of color to an otherwise gray landscape. That simple splash of color inspired us to make this cocktail, the Cherry Blossom, a Sake and gin cocktail.
The original celebration of spring might be the famous cherry blossom festival of Japan, when the cherry trees start blossoming all over the islands and the Japanese come out to to take part in hanami (flower-viewing). A celebrated ritual of spring, hanami is basically a giant public celebration with big picnics and music filling the parks and public spaces around the flowering trees. These parties can last all day, and keep on going late into the night under light from traditional lanterns hung from the trees!
The blossoming of the cherry trees marks another important time in Japan, the time for rice planting! Rice is an important crop in Japan, featured prominently in the cuisine and more interestingly for cocktail bloggers like us, in their spirits! One of the most famous Japanese spirits is Sake, a spirit made by fermenting polished rice to create a stout rice wine that is uniquely Japanese.
We figured that a cocktail celebrating the cherry blossom wouldn’t be complete with out a little Japanese influence, so we decided to use sake as the base to our cocktail. The sake we chose is a Junmai, which is a sake made purely from rice, water, yeast, and koji (a fungus that helps break down the rice and imparts the unique flavors to the sake. The sake has a smooth slightly sweet flavor, with hints of floral and fruit while still remaining crisp, which worked really well when paired up with a tart cherry.
For the cherry flavor, we went with a tart cherry liqueur which brings a bright fresh cherry and a beautiful deep red color to the cocktail. We used a Tart Cherry liqueur from Dancing Pine’s Distillery in Colorado, but you could use Cherry Heering to bring the cherry flavor. A dash of fresh grenadine (use the real stuff like Libor & Co’s Grenadine and not the sickly sweet red stuff found in those sugary cherries!) helps add a depth to the cherry flavor.
Since we were celebrating a flower, we wanted to add a little more floral flavor to the cocktail, so we added a splash of Hendrick’s Gin, which has a nice floral quality to it. The Hendrick’s also helps balance the cocktail by drying the flavor out and countering the tartness of the cherry and sake. A splash of orange liqueur added a hint of sweetness and citrus brightness that helped bring out the tartness of the cherry. A final squeeze of fresh lemon pulls the cocktail into balance while adding a real fresh quality to the finish. We garnished with one of our brandied cherries to add a nice treat!
The Cherry Blossom is a nice crisp cocktail perfect for sipping on a nice spring day! Hints of tart and sweet with a nice floral finish, the Cherry Blossom is one pretty little drink! Note: this cocktail is pretty boozy as there really is not much mixer to dilute it, so this recipe makes 2 cocktails! Cheers!
- 1 1/2 oz Sake
- 1 oz Cherry Liqueur
- 1/2 oz Gin
- 1/4 oz Grenadine
- 1/4 oz Orange Liqueur
- 1/8 lemon juice
- Brandied Cherry for garnish
- Add the ingredients to a mixing glass.
- Add ice to the mixing glass.
- Stir until fully chilled.
- Strain into two chilled couples (this recipe makes 2 cocktails!)
- Garnish with a brandied cherry.