Savvy Sips: Kinbato, A Japanese Paloma Cocktail
An Okinawan Take On The Classic Paloma
Who needs a drink? We do.
Every month, Savvy Sips takes you on a journey to become the best home-bartender ever. Try our cocktail or mocktail recipe, sit back & relax!
For this creation, we are getting our inspiration from a well-known drink in Central America: the Paloma. Many people think that the tequila-based Margarita is the most famous drink in Mexico but actually the national Mexican cocktail is the Paloma! This classic drink is also made with a tequila base, other ingredients include grapefruit juice and a sweet citrusy soda—a refreshing cocktail.
For our Japan-inspired homemade version of this summery drink, we can make some quick changes and take the Mexican Paloma all the way up to the Sunny Islands of Okinawa.
The word Paloma means “dove” in Spanish, so our new version will be named after a beautiful colorful dove, the Kinbato, which you can find in Japan’s southernmost prefecture. For this Kinbato cocktail, we will keep the classic ratios and stay with a citrus-forward summer drink with a strong alcohol kick.
Our citrus element will be shikuwasa syrup/Juice. This ingredient is easily purchased online—we will share some links and info about a wonderful Okinawa shop after the recipe details below! If you have access to fresh shikuwasa then by all means use it fresh, though these are harder to buy off-island.
Shikuwasa is an Okinawan lime with a rich citrus flavor and a sour taste. In Japan, shikuwasa is used like lemon, as a flavoring for grilled meat, fish, sashimi, and even as a great flavor in salad dressings. It can also be used in ice cream, desserts and juice drinks—everything is possible with shikuwasa!
A quick tip, if you are using fresh shikuwasa since they are quite small—most about 3cm in diameter—the best way to juice them is to cut a slice in the skin and squeeze the fruit whole without cutting in half as we often do with lemons or limes. This also helps avoid getting seeds in your juice and cocktail!
Spice & Sweetness
On to our next ingredients. For the sweet component, we are going to add some Japanese “cider” (サイダー, saidaa). Unlike hard ciders in the UK and Europe, cider in Japan is a sweet clear soda—one of the most famous types is Ramune which comes in festive glass bottles—but you can use any cider variety. We are using the common conbini variety: Mitsuya Cider.
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And finally, for our alcohol, we will replace the tequila in our Kinbato and feature arguably one of the most famous products of Okinawa: Awamori. This indigenous spirit is made from long-grain Indica rice and is not brewed like sake or beer but distilled like Shochu or Vodka. Awamori is high in alcohol, bottles usually display 30–43% alcohol (60 to 86 proof) which is similar to the lower levels of tequila which comes in around 50%.
This drink is built or mixed “in-glass”. It is a stirred cocktail, not shaken, so you will need your bar spoon, jigger, and a short rocks glass. We will also salt rim our Kinbato so you will need a shallow plate and some pretty sea salt to remind you of lovely white beaches and blue oceans.
Kinbato Cocktail Recipe
This is a simple 3 ingredient drink!
Simple rocks glass, wide and low.
- 25 ml or ½ part shikuwasa juice
- 50 ml or 1 part awamori
- Cider or soda to top
*Optional lime or shikuwasa slices for a colorful garnish inside the drink
- Salt rim your rocks glass in a shallow plate using flake sea salt
- Carefully add 1-2 large rock cubes of ice
- Add 25 ml (½ part small side of your jigger) of shikuwasa juice (if fresh squeezed, juice 2 shikuwasas)
- Add 50 ml (1 part large side of your jigger) awamori from Okinawa (higher proof works best in this drink)
- Stir together to mix and chill about 10 seconds
- Top with cider and stir one more time about 5 seconds
- If adding lime or shikuwasa slices as garnish, use a very thin slice and place inside the drink. Looks best along the outside wall of your glass.
Now you are ready for an Okinawan drinking toast!
In Japanese, as you know, we say “kanpai” (cheers). In Okinawa, people say “karii“ which means “we wish you lots of happiness” and it seems so fitting for a fun-loving island people!
For a great food pairing, we recommend Okinawa goya champuru which is stir-fried rice, made with egg, bitter melon (goya) and spam. There are lots of recipes online for this salty savory bitter rice dish.
We had many readers interested in a mocktail of our Japanese cocktails—non-alcohol versions—so we are providing an alternative version right below!
Mocktail: Shikuwasa Summer Soda
- 25 ml (½ part) shikuwasa juice
- Two slices of lime
- Cider, soda or Ramune
For the mocktail, we recommend a tall glass filled with ice. Add your cider first, juice on top, add two lime slices and stir. Simple as that! Some fresh mint also goes well with this version and adds a bit more cool refreshing flavors.
Shikuwasa juice is easily available on Amazon Japan, and worldwide. You can also visit the Okinawa Prefectural promotion store (or antenna shop as they are known) in Ginza to load up on Okinawan goods and ingredients.
Address: 104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo City, Ginza, 1 Chome−3−9, 1F and B1F
If you try this one at home or make other fun cocktails, be sure to share on social media and use the hashtag #SavvySips!