Looking to enhance your cocktail game? Then you can’t go wrong with these fun and exotic Japanese cocktails.
Always wanted to explore the fascinating culture and food of Japan but have never been able to visit yet?
Then why not bring a small part of the beauty straight to your kitchen?!
For these recipes, simply ensure you have stocked up on sake and some matcha powder, and then you’re already halfway there to making Japanese cocktails.
Besides this, did you know that Japan also has a rich history involving whiskey? In fact, one distillery in the country even imports Scottish water to ensure its authenticity.
As part of Japanese custom, make sure you’re pouring your guests’ drinks first and are never drinking alone.
With this in mind, this article will explore 13 classic Japanese cocktails that you need to try.
Let’s get straight into it!
1. Tokyo Mule
You may have already heard of the Moscow Mule, but have you ever heard of the Tokyo Mule? If not, you’re in for a treat.
A fun twist on the classic cocktail, this recipe uses sake and an assortment of Japanese alcoholic beverages to make a refreshing cocktail.
For this recipe, you’ll find lime juice, ginger syrup, cucumber, vodka, and, of course, sake, coming together in perfect harmony – each flavor balancing the other out.
It is slightly sweet, zesty, and incredibly warm – the perfect fall cocktail.
For a mocktail version, you can choose to stick with ginger beer, too. Although, we recommend ginger ale since it provides all the ginger tastes without the alcohol.
This fresh, citrus sake grapefruit cocktail can easily be transformed into a mocktail, and pairs perfectly with your choice of snacks.
If you’re unfamiliar with sake, essentially it is a type of wine composed through the fermentation of rice – it is light, clear, has hints of sweetness, and contains 14-16% alcohol.
When it comes to sake, there are a few variations, for instance, Nigori – which has a creamy texture –, Shiboritate – which has a similar fruit taste to white wine –, and Honjozo – which is smooth on the throat.
Since this recipe contains grapefruit, you’ll want a sake that is slightly sweeter to help balance out the sourness.
This is a sparkling bright citrus cocktail made with gorgeous green tea to create an ombre effect that is sure to impress all your guests.
Not only is this matcha gin fizz incredibly simple to shake up but it is also sweetened using homemade Medjool date syrup!
This cocktail contains one of the most unique ingredients: date syrup. While it may not be as forgiving in terms of calories, you can’t beat the sweet natural date flavors – providing a distinct caramel taste.
The best part? It is super simple to make! Simply boil the dates in water, strain, and pulp in a paste.
In this match mint julep recipe, green tea combines with minty syrup and bourbon for a delicious twist on the classic mint julep recipe.
Traditionally, mint juleps are made using sugar, mint, and bourbon, then served over crushed ice in a silver cup.
However, as its name suggests, the matcha mint julep is spiked with powdered green tea which does the trick!
Depending on how you use it, matcha can taste nutty, floral, or even bitter in some instances.
Although, in this case, once you mix the matcha with mint, you’re left with tons of vegetal notes.
However, in between the bourbon and sugar, these flavors are perfectly balanced.
The Japanese highball consists of a bubbly cocktail made with sparkling water and Japanese whiskey – it both looks and tastes delicious!
Got some Japanese whiskey lying around? Then why not try your hand at a highball? This cocktail provides a Japanese twist on the classic whiskey highball.
With a combination of liquor and bubbly sparkling water, the result is a refreshing drink that ensures you’re not drinking too much alcohol at once.
For this recipe, all you’ll need is one part Japanese whiskey, four parts club soda or soda water, and a lemon wedge for garnish.
Looking to impress your guests, then why not give this yuzu gin cocktail a go? Not only does it taste delicious but it is also straightforward to make.
The special ingredient here is yuzu – providing any recipe with an incredibly fragrant flavor, giving those the impression that you’ve spent hours concocting this recipe!
If you’re unfamiliar with yuzu, essentially it is a citrus fruit that has the appearance of a grapefruit but a taste closer to a lemon and lime.
For this recipe, all you’ll need is gin, club soda, simple syrup, mint, and, of course, yuzu juice. Place all the ingredients in your favorite glass, garnish, and serve!
This is the perfect drink for all those gin lovers, you’re sure to appreciate the tartness of the yuzu against the wonderful alcoholic flavors.
For this classic Japanese slipper recipe, all you’ll need is Cointreau, Midori, and a splash of lemon juice. It is so simple but oh-so-delicious!
Midori is a wonderful ingredient in cocktails, however, it is usually hard to find in recipes. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it essentially contains a sweet, almost candy-like taste – the perfect addition to your cocktails.
While the Midori alone would be too overpowering in sweetness, the tart and citrus flavors help to balance some of this out.
Surprisingly, this cocktail was first introduced in Melbourne, and its connections to Japan are still a mystery to discover.
For those lovers of spiked tea, you’re going to go crazy for this raspberry sake tea cocktail!
In addition to a vibrant and fruity cocktail, you’ll also be rewarded with a sweet, smooth, and incredibly simple cocktail to make – perfect to serve your guests at your next BBQ.
While this recipe calls for raspberry-flavored tea bags, you can easily create your own using a mixture of frozen or fresh unsweetened raspberries and black tea.
In doing so, you can easily control the sweetness of your cocktail.
9. Tokyo Mary
The stories surrounding how the Bloody Mary got its name is far and wide – some are even more complex than the drink itself!
Packed with tomato juice and vodka, the classic cocktail also contains hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, garlic, olives, celery, black pepper, salt, lime juice, lemon juice, and celery salt.
In addition to this long list of ingredients, you’ll also find the special Japanese twist: wasabi – making it bolder and spicier than before!
However, unlike chili peppers, wasabi’s spice is known to fade much faster – allowing you to enjoy the drink for longer without any lingering spices on your tongue.
Spice up your cocktail game this summer with this spicy matcha margarita.
You can tailor this refreshing cocktail to your personal spice and sweet levels using a combination of sour lime, sweet pineapple, and stunning matcha to balance everything out.
In addition to this, you’ll also find silver tequila – sometimes known as Blanco – which is aged rarely longer than a couple of weeks, ensuring its purity.
As such, it is generally considered one of the best beverages for mixed drinks. Hence, you’ll find it in margaritas a lot.
During the winter solstice – also known as toji – in Japan, people spend the occasion bathing in yuzu-infused tubs and eating decadent foods – this toji moon cocktail pays homage to these rituals.
The drink itself has a velvety texture and snowy appearance thanks to the herbal Benedictine and Nigori sake – which are only elevated with the yuzu marmalade and azuki red beans for a nutty depth.
Having been around since the mid-20th century, the kamikaze is an iconic bar drink all around the country.
It is among the best-known vodka ‘martinis’ and provides a sweet-tart taste that is loved by many.
For this recipe, all you’ll need is vodka, triple sec, lime juice, and a lemon wedge for garnish – it is stunningly refreshing!
Inspired by Japan’s iconic cherry blossom season, this cocktail combines lemon juice, sakura liqueur, and cherry-flavored kirsch for a decadent drink.
The result is a wonderfully vibrant cocktail that not only looks amazing but tastes delicious, too!
Frequently Asked Questions
Matcha is a powder made with finely ground green tea leaves.
When consumed, it has many health benefits, including a lower chance of developing chronic diseases and cell damage.
Matcha can be used in a range of recipes, including lattes, smoothies, cocktails, and baked goods.
While cocktails may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Japan – there are a wide variety of cocktails you need to try.
Instead of jetting off to Japan, you can now try them in the comfort of your home with one of these recipes.
Hopefully, this guide has provided you with some inspiration for your next Japanese cocktail creations.