Sesame seeds are no longer relegated to bagels or hamburger buns or the outside of sushi rolls. The tiny seeds can now be found in your drinks. Bartenders across the country are infusing cocktails with sesame syrups and pastes, and garnishing glasses with seeds of all shades, but black sesame seeds in particular have captured their attention. Because their hulls remain intact, black sesame seeds’ flavor is stronger than your average white or golden varietal, leaning towards a richer, nuttier nature that’s not quite as sweet. It’s unusual, exotic, a feast for the eyes and unbelievably easy to find, so there’s no excuse not to try one of these three flavor-packed cocktails.
Black Sesame Belongs in Your Cocktails
Created by Michael Nemcik, beverage director at Terra Cotta in Los Angeles, this cocktail melds the classic Daiquiri with black sesame. Nemčik was inspired to create the drink after trying goma-ae, a vegetable side dish (usually spinach) topped with sesame dressing, on a recent trip to Japan. Enamored with the nutty seeds, he chose to remake the citrusy rum standby with black sesame syrup in place of the usual simple syrup, giving this cocktail vibrant new life and a dark new color. “The flavors up front are a slight toasted vanilla as well as sweetness from the strong rum,” he says. Which leads into an “intense roasted nut and sesame flavor” on the finish.
black sesame syrup
Created by Nico de Soto of New York City’s Mace Cocktail Bar, this creamy cocktail requires some serious prep, but we promise it’s worth the extra work. Made with bittersweet cacao nib-infused Cognac and tangy avocado purée, the full-bodied libation gets a double dose of its namesake ingredient. De Soto uses both sesame oil and a black sesame syrup to give the cocktail an extra rich, exotic flavor. Sweet and silky, it’s a perfect drink to sip after dinner or anytime your sweet tooth comes calling.
cocoa nib-infused Cognac
black sesame syrup
This rosy take on the Ramos Gin Fizz almost didn’t work out for Nick Dodge, bar manager of Brooklyn’s Lo-Res. “I made a black sesame tincture, but it didn’t really draw out enough of the black sesame flavor,” he says. “I also tried sesame oil, but that really overpowered the drink and gave it a bit of an oily texture.” Eventually, he tapped his inner Goldilocks and found the perfect balance, opting to garnish the drink with black sesame seeds for just the right amount of flavor. It adds a touch of dark nuttiness to the bright, tangy and bittersweet cocktail.
Black sesame seeds