These Modern Japanese Cocktails Will Mentally Transport You Across the Globe

Crafted with hospitality in mind, these Japanese cocktails are sure to make any guest feel right at home.

Japanese cocktails
Photo: Caitlin Bensel

"Modern Japanese cocktails are an experience, encompassing fresh, in-season ingredients, well-crafted spirits, technique, and omotenashi ["hospitality"], which means making guests feel happy, comfortable, and at ease," says Julia Momosé, the creative director of the bar Kumiko in Chicago and a co-author, with Emma Janzen, of The Way of the Cocktail (Buy It, $28,, due in October.

Here, Momosé, who specializes in creating blends through the lens of her Japanese heritage, shares three Japanese cocktails that are perfect for autumn. "The Kyohō Sour and the TSC contain some of the incredible seasonal ingredients in Japan that take you from late summer into fall," she says. "And the low-alcohol Hishimochi is inspired by the traditional Japanese dessert [Hishi Mochi]— the three layers stand for security, purity, and health and long life." (P.S. these Japanese cocktails pair perfectly with this soba noodle recipe.)

Kyohō Sour (Left)


  • 1 1/2 ounce vodka (like Suntory Haku)
  • 3/4 oz. dry vermouth (like Dolin)
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup (1 part sugar and 1 part water)
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. Concord wine vinegar (like Concord8)*.
  • Ice
  • Dry champagne
  • Mint leaf (for garnish)


  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, dry vermouth, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, and Concord wine vinegar.
  2. Shake with ice to chill, then strain into a coupe glass. Top the Japanese cocktail with a splash of dry champagne. Garnish with a mint leaf.

If you can't find Concord wine vinegar, then substitute 1/2 oz.Concord grape juiceand add an extra 1/4 oz.fresh lemon juiceto the recipe.

Tomato Sherry Cobbler (Middle)


  • 2 oz.fino sherry (like Valdespino Inocente)
  • 1 oz. tomato water syrup
  • 1/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • Ice
  • Garnish: green shiso leaf, cherry tomato, confectioners' sugar


  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine fino sherry(like Valdespino Inocente), tomato water syrup (see recipe below), and fresh lemon juice with ice.
  2. Shake just long enough to chill, then strain into a cocktail glass with crushed ice. Garnish the Japanese cocktail with a green shiso leaf and a cherry tomato. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

(If this tomato-heavy Japanese cocktail has you craving a Bloody Mary, try one of these spicy recipes.)

Tomato Water Syrup

  1. Stem, core, and coarsely chop 1 lb. vine ripened tomatoes. Place in a blender, and blend on high until smooth.
  2. Line a sieve with thick paper towels, and set over a bowl. Pour the tomato puree into the sieve, and let sit for about 1 hour.
  3. For every 1/2 cup tomato water, add 1/4 cup sugar and a pinch of salt(or to taste). Mix until fully combined.
  4. Refrigerate for up to 1 week, or portion into ice trays and store in your freezer until it's time for a cocktail.

Hishimochi Bitters & Soda (Right)


  • Ice
  • 1/4 tsp. matcha powder
  • 1 oz. hot water (about 130°F)
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup (1 part sugar and 1 part water)
  • 3 to 4 oz. club soda
  • Garnish: bitters (like Peychaud's)


  1. Fill a collins glass with ice to chill. Sift 1/4 tsp. matcha powder through a tea strainer into a chawan, or shallow bowl.
  2. Add 1 oz. hot water (about 130°F), and whisk until it becomes a paste. Add 3/4 oz. simple syrup (1 part sugar and 1 part water), and whisk to incorporate.
  3. Remove the ice from the glass. Pour in the matcha syrup mixture, and fill the glass with crushed ice. Slowly pour 3 to 4 oz. club soda into the glass, without agitating the layers.
  4. Garnish the Japanese cocktail with 5 to 7 dashes of bitters (like Peychaud's), and serve with a Japanese-style stir stick (madorā) or a reusable straw.
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The Way of the Cocktail: Japanese Traditions, Techniques, and Recipes

The Way of the Cocktail: Japanese Traditions, Techniques, and Recipes
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