Savvy Sips: Ginger-Genmai Gin and Tonic
Spice Up Your #StayHome With A Japanese Gin And Tonic
Who needs a drink? We do. Join us in our Savvy Sips series and become the best home-bartender ever. This month, we offer you a double cocktail-mocktail recipe!
We have all been in #stayhome mode for a while now and even though things are starting to reopen around Tokyo, bars and such are still not an option for many of us! So let’s dive into another DIY cocktail you can easily make in a simple home bar.
June in Japan is a synonym for tea picking season and when green tea is at its finest—so this month’s offering is a play on a gin and tonic, with a bit of ginger and a great punch from green tea. In this addition to our series, I will also recommend 2 basic bar tools and some substitutions you can use. Let’s dive right in!
How To home-bar kit
To make your own home bar kit, you do not need anything too elaborate: use what you have! It will all work out in the end. Our cocktail today is a stirred cocktail—so no James Bond vibe here!—assembled right in the glass, so no shaker is required—but here are a few tools to make bartending easier.
The best bar spoons are long, slender, and make it easy to stir your ice in the glass and gently mix your ingredients. Fortunately, they are not costly. I recommend the type with the fork on one end to make it two tools in one—savvy tip! Most bar spoons have a spiral shaft for layered cocktails and to help the spoon glide more smoothly in your hand while you’re stirring.
Substitution option: No bar spoon, no worries! It is not so easy to use a regular spoon in a cocktail glass full of ice, but what works great is a long cooking chopstick. These are easy to find in a 100 yen store—or any supermarket.
How to stir like a pro
- Put the spoon in the mixing glass before you add the ice. This makes it easier to stir from the bottom, and put your spoon in with the back facing out, touching the outside of the glass.
- While stirring, let your fingers do the work. Your wrist and elbow should not really be moving much at all.
- Try to be as gentle and quiet as possible when stirring. Big movements and lots of sound from the ice indicate that you might be chipping the ice and therefore adding extra water into your drink—and who wants that? More seriously, it will meddle with the taste of your cocktail.
- Stir time should be about 7-10 seconds in each direction.
A jigger is an hourglass-shaped measuring bar tool. It has two different measuring amounts—one on either side of the hourglass.
In the early days, a jigger referred to 1.5 oz (approximately 44 ml) and the bar jigger was named for that measurement. The standard jigger measures 1.5 oz on one side of the hourglass and 1 oz on the other side. You can get jiggers these days in many other sizes.
Substitution option: Again, in Japan, you can easily find good substitutions for a jigger. You can use a small ceramic or glass sake cup. If you use a “tasting cup”—the ones with the blue bullseye in the bottom—filling it almost to the top equals the large side of a jigger, and filling it ½ way would equal the small side.
Now that we dealt with the studying side of things, on to the fun and our new creation this month.
Ginger-Genmai Gin Tonic
This is a simple 4 ingredients drink. This Savvy Sips cocktail is a take on a gin and tonic, with complex and delicious green tea flavors. We are using genmai tea which is traditional green tea with small pieces of puffed rice mixed in, giving it a toasty, cereal flavor, and aroma.
I recommend a tall collins style glass.
- 50 ml (1 part) green tea genmai tea with puffed rice or green tea syrup
- 25 ml (½ part) ginger syrup or ginger ale
- 2 wedges (⅛ cut) lime
- Tonic or soda
- 100 ml (2 parts) Dry Gin-Botanicals
- In a tall glass add green tea, ginger syrup, and dry gin.
- Squeeze the juice of 1 lime wedge (if you do not have ginger syrup you can muddle 3-4 slices of fresh ginger in the glass or add ginger ale or ginger beer plus tonic when finished)
- When all ingredients are added except tonic, add ½ glass of ice, stir with a bar spoon for 20 seconds.
- Top with tonic,) add more ice as needed and garnish with the other lime wedge.
Variations: replace tonic with ½ tonic ½ ginger ale or ginger beer
If you need a reminder on how to work out your parts, take a look at our first Savvy Sips which was all about bidding goodbye to our dear sakura flowers.
Ginger-Genmai Cooler Mocktail
Many readers were interested in mocktail versions of our Savvy Sips—non-alcohol cocktails—, so we are providing an alternative version here. Enjoy!
- 50 ml (1 part) green tea genmai tea with puffed rice OR green tea syrup
- 25 ml (½ part) ginger syrup or fresh ginger
- 2 wedges (⅛ cut) lime
- Tonic or soda + dry ginger ale
The process is the same! The above basic recipe is great but to add more complexity when you take out the gin you might have to muddle some other botanicals with your ginger slices in a shaker, add some soda water, and strain into your glass. Perhaps some coriander seeds, thyme, sage…? Just a little of each. Experiment and have fun!
All of the tea, gin, and other ingredients are available in liquor shops or via your regular internet marketplace.
If you try this one at home or make other fun cocktails, be sure to share on social media and use the hashtag #SavvySips!