The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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Page 20 of 116

BooKS Crossing the Culture Gap NEW BOOK JApANESE CoCKtAilS EXPLAINS MORE THAN JUST MIXEd dRINKS A nyone who has been to Japan, or even spent time people- watching in sushi bars here in the States, knows that the Japanese take their drinking very seriously. Not that they over-consume; shochu and saké are relatively low in alcohol compared to many other spirits. But, like everything else about Japanese culture, drinking conforms to a set of rules and is an intensely social act. If you want to get the skinny on the hows and whys of Japanese cocktails, get your hands on Yuri Kato’s Japanese Cocktails (Chronicle Books, $14.95), a compendium of mixed drinks made with saké, shochu, whisky and other spirits, including unusually products such as Midori Melon Liqueur and Zen Green Tea Liqueur. The book is produced with the usual fl air for design and photography that Chronicle Books shows with all of its publications. Written in conjunction with Suntory, Japan’s leading wine and spirits company, the handy little tome will be a boon to bartenders seeking to expand their repertoire and throw their customers a few Japanese-accented curve balls from behind the bar. The concoctions also incorporate unusual Asian fruits, herbs and spices and should give today’s “bar chefs” a compel- ling challenge. But aside from its 60-plus recipes, Japanese Cocktails may be even more useful beyond the bar—as a primer on Japanese spirits culture. Who knew, for example, that the Japanese obses- sion with baseball played into saké promotions when slugger Babe Ruth visited the country in 1934? Or that the perfect mizuwari—whisky cut with water over ice—should be stirred exactly 13½ times? Or that saké isn’t called saké in Japan? (It’s called nihon-shu.) Author Yuri Kato inherited her love of food and spirits—the two go hand-in-hand in Japan—from her mother and uncle, both chefs. Born in Yokohama and now living in New York City and Denver, she bridges the culture gap between Japanese spirits and American thirst with expertise and style. —David Gadd 20 / the tasting panel / april 2010 Suntory Whiskies Chapter Five of Japanese Cocktails outlines whisky-based cocktails, with special reference to Japan’s leading whisky producer, Suntory, and its two signature products: Hibiki blended whisky and the Yamazaki single malts. The Yamazaki 12 Year Old is an exemplary single malt (SRP $46). Anthony Dias Blue calls it “silky and mellow with butter- scotch, toffee and café- au-lait plus oak and dried fruits; complex, smooth, long and charming with balance and lovely style.” Hibiki (Japanese for “echoes”) is Suntory’s blended whisky, created from more than 30 specially aged whiskies; SRP $55. Yuzu Julep (from Japanese Cocktails) 2 oz. (60 ml.) Yamazaki 12 Year Old 6 fresh mint leaves 1 tsp. (5 ml.) gum syrup* ½ oz. (15 ml.) yuzu juice** Fresh mint sprig for garnish Muddle mint leaves with gum syrup in a mixing glass. Pour into a short glass with crushed ice. Add whisky and yuzu juice, garnish with a mint sprig and serve. *Gum syrup is simple syrup with gum arabic or xanthum (available at natural food stores) added for a smoother texture. **Yuzu is a Japanese citrus that tastes like grapefruit with a hint of lemon. Yuzu juice is available in Asian food markets.

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