Sake Lemon Drop

I’ve always wanted to enjoy sake. I have tried it warm and cold, over the years, but never loved it. Friends always said, “Drink the really good stuff and you will love it.” They were wrong. Straight-up sake always struck me as too medicinal. For me, hard alcohol is always tricky.  Even when it’s the “good stuff,” I don’t typically enjoy it straight. And if you have read any of my cocktail posts, you’ll know I’m picky about mixed drinks too. If I am going to indulge in a cocktail, I want it to be a great one. I prefer my drinks more tart than sweet and with something interesting. With this in mind, I decided to revisit sake, determined to find a way to enjoy it. Mission accomplished. Meet my sake lemon drop, sweet, tart, and super smooth.

sake lemon drop

A traditional lemon drop is a vodka-based cocktail with a sweet and sour lemony flavor–typically made using fresh lemon juice, triple sec, and simple syrup. In this recipe, I replace the vodka with sake and I drop the Triple Sec, which can be heavy and cloying. Sake, or Japanese rice wine, is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting rice that has been “polished” to remove the bran. Sake is produced by a brewing process more similar to beer than wine.  In this process, starch gets converted into sugars which ferment and create.

Sake is typically about 40 proof, making it about half as potent as spirits like whiskey or vodka, but approximately twice as potent as many wines.  Like wine, sake comes in many distinct flavors, most on the lighter side. Since revisiting sake, I’ve learned a couple of things: (1) I like sake chilled rather than warm, and (2) adding citrus to complement the fragrant floral flavors enhances sake’s appeal. This cocktail was a simple, fun experiment and in the end, I learned to enjoy something I have been fascinated with for so long.

sake lemon drop


About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

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