Like over-sauced, over-garnished maki rolls and vegan sushi, the Saketini is an American invention. And like those other garish â€śinnovationsâ€ť on simple Japanese products, the drink doesnâ€™t always do justice to the original. Made with poor quality wine or buried beneath fruit juices or saccharine mixers, the harsh flavor of a bad Saketini can overpower even the strongest of raw fish pairings. Respect for sake (along with a highly traditional cocktail scene) has mostly deterred Japanese bartenders from mixing cocktails with sake, but there is a way for Americans to redeem themselves and do the rice wine justice with a bright and floral cocktail. As with other simple Martini variations, the path to success lies in quality ingredients. Begin with a good sake. If you have variety to choose from, go for a Junmai, Junmai Ginjo or Namazake, which tend to be crisp, clean and slightly fruity. For gin, opt for an American gin or other juniper-averse bottling, since the piney taste can cross wires with the delicate, bright flavors of the rice wine. (And if you want a Saketini like no other, grab a bottle of Japanese gin like the one made by Nikka, which bursts with Japanese citrus, sanshĹŤ pepper and a hint of green apple). Finally, drop a bar spoon of Maraschino liqueur into the mixing glass to add a touch of sweet nuance to the cocktail, and to emphasize the floral and fruity character even further. (This addition was inspired by Kenta Gotoâ€™s Sakura Martini at Bar Goto in New York. While it technically makes the cocktail an â€śImprovedâ€ť Saketini, but we canâ€™t imagine drinking the basic cocktail any other way now.) Be sure to give this one a nice long stir to incorporate everything and really chill the drink. The result is a fresh palate cleanser of a cocktail worth sipping between bites of a high-end, full-monthâ€™s-rent omakase.
A traditional Gimlet is like a Daiquiri for gin lovers. Itâ€™s light, bright, tart and downright chaggable, especially with a crisp, dry gin thatâ€™s not too heavy on the juniper. If you thought that a Gimlet couldnâ€™t get anymore delicious or refreshing, this modern variation proves otherwise. Upping the ante with the addition of cucumber, this c...