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Monday, December 4, 2017

Cocktail Recipe: Ginza in June

I've never liked whisky cocktails. No cocktail improved the drinking experience that the whisky itself offered. Sweet vermouth was one of the main culprits. Just two drops of sweet vermouth in a cocktail ruined everything. Its cloying nauseating flavor spread through the drink like a drop of ink a glass of water. (That's a metaphor I promise to overuse.) Then, one day last winter, I discovered a solution: Don't Use Cheap Sweet Vermouth.

I mean, the real solution was Carpano Antica Formula and Luxardo cherries. Since then, I've been drinking a lot of Manhattans. During some stretches, I'm drinking Manhattans more often than single malts. I finally found a use for American whiskey! 😬

Then, in October, as I was opening my current bottle of Nikka Whisky from the Barrel (NWFTB, not NKOTB), I had an idea. What if I created something along the lines of a Manhattan or Rob Roy with my beloved NWFTB? I'd go easy on the Carpano Antica in order to highlight the quality of the whisky.

And it worked on the first try. The Carpano Antica merged with the whisky, pushing the grain aside and moving the malt to the fore. Plenty of spice, not too much sweetness.

* * * * *

Because this drink is utterly bourgeois with its expensive Italian vermouth and cherries, and it includes the whisky I travelled with during both of my Japan trips, I chose to name it after the bougie-est corner of Tokyo I explored this year.

With its Rodeo Drive-inspired lineup of Valentino, Salvatore Ferragamo, Dior, Fendi and on and on and on, Ginza is the epitome of rāga, one of the three forms of suffering (or poisons or fires) in Mahayana Buddhism, stemming from the desire for wealth and the ownership of physical, sensory things.

The gorgeous weather on June 14th made that corner of Chuo feel even more posh. So, inspired by the sugary romance of "Danke Schoen" ("I recall Central Park in Fall"), I named my cocktail, Ginza in June.

* * * * *

And now, the recipe.

1.5 fluid ounces (or 45mL) of Nikka Whisky from the Barrel
0.5 fluid ounces (or 15mL) of Carpano Antica Formula
2 generous dashes of Angostura bitters
2 drops of marasca syrup (from the Luxardo jar)
1 Luxardo Maraschino cherry

1. Fill a tall mixing glass with ice cubes (not crushed ice).
2. Pour the first four ingredients over the ice in the mixing glass.
3. Stir clockwise 24 times. (Lucky number hachi multiplied by my lucky number san)
4. Plop the cherry into the most faux-proletariat glass you own.
5. Strain the cocktail into your prole drinking glass.

— Feel free to up the whisky content to 60mL, but make sure the whisky-to-vermouth ratio remains 3-to-1. Also remember that NWFTB is 51.4%abv. So be cautious.
— For more zip add more bitters.
— I don't recommend adding more than 2 drops of the syrup because it will take over the drink.
— Feel free to apply less sweet vermouth. I don't recommend adding more if you want the whisky to fly high.
— If you don't have NWFTB on hand (and who does, really) I recommend high quality blended malts that have little or no peat. Compass Box (speaking of bougie) Spice Tree may do the trick.

Kanpai, my lambs.


  1. If you're looking for a more economical vermouth, Perucchi is really good for winter drinks since it has a lot of spice notes and usually runs around $20/liter.

    1. I'll give that a try. And I really should give Punt e Mes a chance too.