Oh the weather outside is frightful, but this drink is so delightful! Ahh the holidays. It’s the MOST wonderful time of year, isn’t it? Between the cooking and cleaning, family, gifting frenzy, and all of the extra special stress 2020 brings to the party, you deserve an adult beverage. Maybe several.
A Holiday Drink Delight
These Ginger Saketinis are a holiday delight. With classic wintery flavors like citrus and ginger and vanilla, and a sparkly rim, ginger saketinis are extra festive. And best of all, since they are made with sake, they are less likely to give you a hangover. All the warm glow, gentle buzz, and holiday cheer you want from your drinkies, without the morning after regret. Plus ginger has tons of health benefits, making these cocktails practically a Super Food.
So go ahead and make a big batch of Ginger Saketinis for your holiday celebration, or gift wrapping session, or New Year’s Eve. Or your Monday morning Zoom meeting, I won’t tell.
Saketinis Are The Best Tinis
Sake is really undervalued as a cocktail base. It has a much more mild flavor than vodka, so it lets your other ingredients shine. And sake makes martinis go down like candy. But since it has a lower alcohol level, and is considered one of the “cleanest” alcohols you can drink, you’re much less likely to suffer headaches, even if you do slightly overindulge. For my Ginger Saketinis you can use an inexpensive sake; save the good stuff for when you are sipping it straight.
Lemon Ginger Syrup
The key to my Ginger Saketinis is the intensely flavorful Lemon Ginger Syrup. Simple syrups are frequently used to sweeten cocktails. Liquid sweeteners are a great option for cold drinks because there’s no gritty sugar that hasn’t melted. At their, um, simplest, simple syrups are just sugar dissolved into water, but they are also a great opportunity to add fun and exciting flavors. My lemon ginger syrup is a bit more complex than your average simple syrup, and it delivers a flavorful blast of gingery vanilla flavor, but it is still quite easy to prepare.
Use the Syrup For Other Drinks
This recipe will make twice what you need for one batch of Ginger Saketinis. The rest will keep in the fridge for a month, and can be used in zillions of ways. Add some to your cold brew for a special coffeehouse treat, or whip up mojitos with an Asian twist! Additionally, it’s the base for our homemade ginger ales at our restaurants, which you can easily re-create at home with some ice and soda water.
To make the lemon ginger syrup, you will first prep the lemongrass. Start by trimming the upper leaves, and cut the stalks into smaller pieces that will fit in your sauce pan. Then flatten those pieces with the side of a heavy knife, so that more of the lemongrass will be exposed.
Next wash and smash the ginger. No need to peel, as you will be straining it out anyway. Just give it a good scrub to eliminate any soil. Next, you will slice your vanilla bean lengthwise. I know vanilla beans can be quite expensive, though I have found Native Vanilla to have reasonable prices. Alternately, if you have any vanilla bean paste, that makes a good substitute. Regular vanilla extract, however, does not. If you have the paste, use a tablespoon.
Cooking the Syrup
Once the lemongrass and vanilla bean are prepped, you will add them along with ginger, citrus, and water to a saucepan. Then bring to a simmer, add the sugar, and lower the heat. Finally, keep at a very gentle simmer until it is reduced to a syrupy, amber color. This will take up to three hours, but it is hands off time and your house will smell divine! When it’s done, strain it to remove all the solids.
You can make the syrup days ahead of time. Just store it in the fridge and it will be cold and ready to go when it’s cocktail time!
Add holiday sparkle!
To make my Ginger Saketinis extra festive, I like to rim the glass with a flavored sugar. This is really easy to do, and takes your mixologist game to the next level. Just mix a cup of sugar with a teaspoon of your lemon ginger syrup and pour the sugar onto a plate. Then swipe a lemon or lime wedge around the rim of your cocktail glass. Next press the rim of the glass into the sugar, until you have a glittery rim.
Shaken, Not Stirred!
There’s something so sexy and glamorous about a cocktail shaker. The tinkling of the ice, the pouring of the frothy cocktail into a sparkling glass… adulthood does have its pleasures. Depending on the size of your shaker, you can easily double or triple the ingredients to make multiple drinks at once. Just shake up your syrup, sake, some little wedges of citrus, and ice, and your Ginger Saketinis are done! Garnish with a piece of candied ginger and a sprig of mint for even more holiday flair. A sprig of rosemary would work here as well, and be very Christmassy.
Ginger Saketinis are going to be such a welcome addition to your holiday festivities! When you make them, let us know! Leave a comment, tag us in your gorgeous sparkly photos @funkyasiankitchen, and show us the cocktail goods!
- 1 cup lemon ginger syrup
- 2 cups (16 fl oz) sake
- 1 lemon cut, into 8 wedges
- 1 limes, cut into 6 wedges
- 4 cups ice
Lemon Ginger Syrup:
- 1 lemon
- 2 limes
- 3 stalks lemongrass
- 8 oz ginger
- ½ stick vanilla bean
- 2 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon ginger syrup
- 8 pieces candied ginger slices
- 1 cup mint (optional)
Prep the ingredients:
- Wash and slice the lemon and limes in half.
- Wash and trim the lemongrass, cutting off some of the top leaves. Cut the lemongrass into 2 inch pieces so it will fit your pot. Smash the lemongrass lightly with the side of your knife to expose more of the flavor.
- Wash and then lightly smash the ginger by covering it with a kitchen towel and smashing it with the side of your knife.
- Slice the vanilla bean in half.
Make the syrup:
- Add the lemons, limes, lemongrass, ginger, vanilla beans, and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat.
- Add the sugar and lower the heat to medium, and simmer very gently for 3 hours until the syrup is reduced by 1/3 and turns a medium amber color.
- Strain the solids from the syrup and then set aside to cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. You will yield about 2 ½ cups of syrup. The syrup lasts for up to 1 month in the fridge.
Make your flavored sugar to rim the glass:
- Mix 1 cup of sugar with 1 teaspoon of syrup on a shallow plate.
- Take one wedge of lime and gently rim the glass you intend to use for your cocktail by swiping the lime across the edge.
- Turn the glass upside down and press it into the sugar so you have a lip of sugar on the rim of the glass. Repeat with remaining glasses.
Mix the Cocktails:
- In a shaker or mixing glass, add 1 cup of ice, 2 ounces of lemon ginger syrup, 4 ounces of sake, 1 lemon wedge squeezed, and 1 lime wedge squeezed into the shaker cup.
- Shake the mixture vigorously for 1 minute. Then gently pour the mix into the prepared glass. Garnish with the candied ginger and serve.
*The syrup can be used for other beverages such as mojitos and ginger ales, as a topping for simple winter fruit such as cut oranges and pineapples, or even as a drizzle on pancakes-it would be fabulous on banana pancakes!