Original Cocktail: Cranesblood

Original Cocktail: Cranesblood

Recently, the Liquor Fairy brought a nice selection of sakes from Saké One, an American maker of premium rice wine. It was a package that had me feeling psyched, but a little scared as well. See, my experience with saké has heretofore been mainly consuming little ceramic jugs of hot plonk while getting my eyebrows singed off at my girls’ favorite kind of restaurant….

NOT Smith & Wollensky….

So, though I’m no expert on Saké, I now have to write about it. But cocktails are a journey, and journeys are boring if you always go to places you’ve been before. I put the bottles on the top shelf of my wine fridge to give them the slightest chill, and the experimenting began.
The first bottle I tried was Saké One’s Momokawa Organic Junmai Ginjo (their filtered, basic saké, if you will). I started out sipping a glass to get the feel of it.
Yeah, about that. Three days, and I had sipped it all.
I checked myself, and determined that I would work try the unfiltered Momokawa Organic Nigori only for mixing, and see if I could produce something on my own worth drinking, before resorting to the recipes in Japanese Cocktails.
I’m rather pleased with myself that my instincts were good, and I had produced something pretty damn good, and less than halfway into the bottle!
Cranesblood cocktail: Sake Hibiscus Cider Lime


  • 2 oz. nigori style saké
  • 2 oz. hibiscus cider
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 3-5 dashes peach bitters

Combine in a shaker with large ice and shake briefly. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a sprig of lightly bruised mint.

This is a very light drink, but the flavors marry well. The essential astringent sharpness of the saké remains intact, with some nice exotic sweetness from the cider for fun. This drink is a great illustration of how bitters work to improve a drink. You can’t taste them in the drink at all, but if you don’t put them in, you can darn sure taste their absence! Make sure you bruise the mint pretty well, as its aroma is important.
The Cranesblood is not really a Tiki drink, but it would be a nice, evening extending, intermezzo between Zombies.
If you want to make your own hibiscus cider, here’s a recipe at Food & Wine. The commercial stuff I use is Five Star Foodies Hibiscus Cider, which I find at Whole Foods.
I also have a simple variant, if the Cranesblood is too mild for you. Simply add an ounce of shōchū (or three-quarters of vodka) to kick it up a bit. This version gives the drink a more standard cocktail kick, but loses some of the delicate softness of my preferred original.

The-Liquor-Fairy-ThumbThe Liquor Fairy Was Here!
The following products, Saké One Momokawa Sakés, were recently provided to me as promotional consideration to encourage me to discuss them.
For a complete disclosure of my policies regarding promotional items and all other financial interests, please click this link, or follow the Liquor Fairy link in the header of this page.


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