I think I’ve found my favorite cocktail of 2016, and that’s saying a lot because I love cocktails. I first sipped the Yoyogi at Noraneko, a restaurant located in Portland where I live. The restaurant is billed as a ramen shop, but their Japanese appetizers and traditional comfort foods are what dominate the menu. What gets me excited about Noraneko is their bar program. They have an extensive selection of traditional Japanese whiskeys and mixed drinks on the menu.
The first time I visited Noraneko, the description of the Yoyogi piqued my curiosity: salted plum vodka and lime. I love Asian salted plum and couldn’t get past the Yoyogi to consider ordering a different drink. When the Yoyogi came to the table, I took a sip and was blown away. The salted plum flavor came through with a punch, the lime provided a nice kick of acid and the ginger added just enough spiciness.
I happened to have Chinese dried plum at home that my husband and I had brought back from a recent trip to Taiwan. The Chinese dried plum flavor is similar to Japanese salted plum. And so the idea of recreating the Yoyogi was born.
My kitchen notes
If you use Japanese salted plum, your cocktail will be pink in color. The Chinese dried plum will give the drink a yellow color as pictured above.
This drink is also great topped with a splash of sparkling water.
Yoyogi – adapted from Noraneko, Portland Oregon
Makes 6 drinks
5-10 Japanese umeboshi (salted plum) or Chinese huamei (dried plum) available in Asian markets
12 ounces vodka
4 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice
3 ounces ginger syrup (see below)
To make the plum vodka
Place the Japanese umeboshi or Chinese huamei in the bottom of a jar or pitcher. Pour vodka over, cover and let sit for 1-2 weeks.
To make the ginger syrup
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup peeled, chopped ginger and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Let mixture cool completely then strain, pressing solids to extract the flavorful liquid. Add 1 cup of sugar, and whisk until dissolved. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To assemble the cocktail (1 individual serving size)
- To a cocktail shaker add 2 ounces of plum vodka, 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice and 1/2 ounce ginger syrup.
2. Fill shaker with ice. Shake well until chilled, strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a cocktail glass.