Recommended liquor: This month's box calls for a bottle of shochu or gin. So that you can start mixing your cocktails as soon as your box arrives, why not go get yours now? Each of this month's featured bartenders has recommendations for you! Any of them will work for all three recipes found in this box, so please choose according to your preference.
Note that all the recommended shochus are bottled at a higher strength than the 25% ABV of traditional shochu. The shochu selections listed below are full-bodied and rich in flavor—characteristics that are ideal for mixing the cocktails in this box—and because they are higher proof than traditional shochus (which are best enjoyed neat), these recommendations will pack the punch of gin when it comes to cocktail mixing. In fact, many American bartenders consider the creation of this new class of higher-proof shochus a watershed event for mixology!
Parker Luthman recommends the Mizu "Lemongrass" Shochu for those who prefer a rounder and richer cocktail. It is an innovative product within the shochu category, and it can still shine as the base of this cocktail because of its higher alcohol percentage. Its bright notes of citrus, lemongrass, and subtle peach blend perfectly, and it's extremely easy to enjoy.
Parker says that Bombay Sapphire East Gin is so distinctively different from other gins, “it is a no-brainer choice for this box.” The addition of black peppercorns and lemongrass adds a beautifully unique finish to the already delicious bouquet of botanicals found in Bombay Sapphire. This extremely aromatic gin is the perfect base for these cocktails and will meld their flavors together wonderfully.
iichiko’s Saiten Shochu is a full-flavored expression of shochu that is perfect for modern cocktail mixing. This shochu offers notes of honeydew melon, watermelon rind, and citrus, with just a hint of soy and white pepper, and because of its higher alcohol percentage, it’s on par with gin as an ideal base for the cocktails in this box. Mary Palac favors this shochu as a superemly mixable option that will unlock the flavors of these cocktails.
Although Suntory is well known for their Japanese whiskey, the brand’s Roku Gin is a fine craft gin that is meticulously produced using six Japanese botanicals—such as cherry blossom, green tea, sansho pepper, and yuzu peel—and eight traditional gin botanicals. Mary recommends Roku Gin, as it offers a bold and striking base for the cocktails in this box.
Takara Shochu Jun is distilled from multiple grains and bases, making it a complex shochu, yet a clean and pure base. “It's a higher proof than a lot of traditional shochu, which makes it a perfect star for cocktail mixing,” say Caer Maiko and Sharon Yeung of their recommendation.
Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin uses native botanicals, which give a real sense of the Japanese terroir, according to Caer and Sharon. The distillery’s choice to include some earthier botanicals, such as bamboo, leans well into the darker flavors showcased in this box, like in the ABC Tea’s tea and black molasses.
Recommended amount: To make all 12 drinks, you'll need 21 oz of shochu or gin; a medium (750 ml) bottle will be your best bet.
Recommended barware: A few different jiggers that measure 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1 1/2, and 2 oz, as well as a strainer, shaker, mixing glass, bar spoon, citrus juicer or reamer, and fine strainer. These are not all strictly necessary, but will improve your mixology experience.
Recommended glassware: coupe, Nick & Nora, and large teacup and/or collins
Recommended ice: To make all 12 cocktails in one go, you'll need about 4 pounds of ice (4 ice trays’ worth).
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