The Nanban Cocktail


by Raul Faria

The Nanban Cocktail was my entry in the Bols Around the World 2013 cocktail competition. We were challenged to create an iconic cocktail. So I chose to represent an iconic moment in history. My inspiration was the Nanban Trade which was the first European contact with Japanese by Portuguese sailors in 1543 soon followed by the Dutch. I chose to bring together Dutch Genever (the bold malty great Grandaddy to Gin) and Japanese Sake to create the Nanban Cocktail. Bols Genever has a big, bombastic, malty flavor and the Honjozo Sake is clean and dry with some anise and dry citrus making it an ideal play date in a glass. I wanted to turn up the volume on the cucumber and dry citrus notes in the sake with the Solerno, Regans Orange Bitters, and the muddled fresh cucumber. I also wanted to bring that malty goodness into balance and focus the herbal notes of the Bols Genever and punch up the anise notes in the sake with the fresh basil. Ready to recreate history through a cocktail?

1) Lets get our tools together; we will need our Boston Shaker, Hawthorne Strainer, Double-Strainer, our Muddler, a Jigger with a 1 oz, .75 oz and a .5 oz measure, and a coupe or cocktail glass. Our shopping list will include Bol’s Genever, Murai Family Tokubetsu Honjozo Sake, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Regan’s Orange Bitters, English Cucumbers, Basil, and an Orange.

2) Now we will begin by adding our English cucumber chunks into the mixing glass portion of the Boston Shaker. We will use 4-6  chunks of cucumber depending on the size. To prepare the cucumber I would simply cut a 1 inch wide slice of cucumber then cut the slice into quarters.

3) Next we will add 3-4 basil leaves to the glass. 4 if the leaves are small and 3 if you got the big ones.

4) Lets add our 3 dashes of Regan’s Orange Bitters.

5) Now its time to add our .75 oz of Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur. We will now muddle the contents of the glass. Solerno is made from handpicked Sicilian blood oranges and the oil is expressed from the fruit within 24 hours of being harvested by a family that’s been doing it since the 1800’s! Talk about tradition 🙂

6) Now that we’ve got our muddling done grab our Bols Genever and add 1.25 oz in to the glass. Genever, sometimes known as Holland style Gin, has been around long before the Gin we know today. It has its roots and likely origin in the Flanders Region of Belgium around the 13th century but its heart and soul is in the Netherlands. Enter Bols which has been making Genever since the 1600’s. In 1820 the Bols master distillers unveiled a new recipe that was more refined and mellow. This is the recipe still being used by Bols to produce their Genever. Made with 50% malt wine which gives the trademark malty character and a blend of botanicals then distilled to 42% abv. This can be a great sub in whiskey based cocktails and makes a great boiler maker or as its known in the Netherlands “kopstoot”.

7) Next we will add our 1 oz of Murai Family Tokubetsu Honjozo Sake. Honjozo sake means that it has a bit of brewers alcohol added to the final sake which tends to leave a dryer more focused sake. The Tokubetsu part of the name means special and this sake is indeed special. An easy drinking sake with a dry character that makes it fun to mix with.

8) Time to add ice to the glass and shake! Double-strain into chilled coupe glass and garnish with a picked basil leaf and an orange peel. Express the orange peel over the cocktail then run the pick through the leaf and the peel. Dozo!

The Nanban Cocktail- 1.25 oz Bol’s Genever, 1 oz Murai Family Tokubetsu Honjozo Sake, .75 oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, 4 cucumber chunks, 3-4 basil leaves, Muddle, Shake, Double-Strain and garnished with an expressed orange peel and a basil leaf.

Click here to check out the Bols Around the World instructional video submission for the Nanban cocktail

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