Cocktail Recipe: Try This Spicy, Sippable Sake Drink from Uchi Austin
The high-end Japanese restaurant shares details on how to make one of its most popular cocktails
By David Clough
When most people think of sake, they don’t realize there’s a world of elegant cocktails you can make with it. The fermented rice drink is traditionally served straight, in small cups called choko. But according to Uchi, a contemporary Japanese sushi restaurant in South Austin, there’s no ‘wrong way’ to drink sake. As long as you’re enjoying it with friends and embracing a culture of hospitality and respect, you’re doing it right.
Tribeza spoke with Peyton Walston, a sake expert and Assistant General Manager at Uchi Austin, about how to make one of the restaurant’s popular sake cocktails. Walston runs the beverage program at Uchi Austin and specializes in sake education. She told us about Kara Kyuri, a spicy sake cocktail you can make at home (but if you want the real thing, you have to get it at Uchi). Here’s how you put it together.
“I start with one bottle of sake that has good minerality and maybe a little acidity, like Tozai Typhoon,” says Walston. “I never want to use sake that’s best drank solo. Tozai is great on its own but also has a lot of cocktail-like qualities that make it a great mixer.”
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She pours the 720ml bottle of sake into a large container. It can be a mixing bowl, Tupperware, drink dispenser or other large vessel. Then she adds her ingredients. “I chop up three Thai chilis, one medium cucumber, one fistful of cilantro, then add it to the sake.”
Next, Walston lets the mixture steep for as little as 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours. “The longer you go, the more intense the flavor and the spicier. The cucumber flavor starts to be overpowered by the Thai chili and cilantro the longer you go though, so keep that in mind. A couple hours is usually perfect.”
After the steep, she adds in 2 ounces of yuzu juice and 6.4 ounces of simple syrup.
“Yuzu juice, especially now, can be really hard to source—even for us as a restaurant,” Walston says. “I’d look for it at Asahi imports or 99 Ranch. If you can’t find yuzu, a mix of orange, lime and grapefruit juice will give you a similar result. Yuzu has an earthiness that makes it unique, but any citrus juice will make you a spicy sake cocktail that’s delicious.”
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Finally, Walston strains the sake mixture and pours it over ice. It’s time to garnish your glass with a cucumber slice and kick back with your masterpiece: the Kara Kyuri.
“This cocktail is perfect for the patio right now, or poolside,” says Walston. “I love it with [Uchi Austin’s] oysters and hasami age. The drink is a little spicy, but the cucumber and cilantro give it a cooling and herbaceous effect.”
1 720ml bottle of sake
3 Thai chilis
1 medium-sized cucumber
1 handful of cilantro
2 ounces of yuzu juice
6.4 ounces of simple syrup
1. Pour sake bottle into a large container.
2. Chop Thai chilis, cucumber and cilantro and add to sake.
3. Let mixture steep for 2 hours.
4. Add in yuzu juice and simple syrup.
5. Strain mixture and pour over ice.
6. Insert straw and garnish with cucumber slice.
This recipe makes about four 6 ounce cocktails on ice.