Come summer, it always seems like we need a strategy to live right. We have to remember to avoid t-shirts and the sexy farmer tans that go along with them. We have to plan mountain time, river time, lake time, neighbors’ kiddie pool time — all of the above, in heavy rotation until Labor Day. We also have to plan our meals better; blink, and your summer produce will be long past its prime. (In the winter, of course, you get yourself a pumpkin and if it goes bad, no sweat — just turn it into a chariot and hit the club or whatever Cinderella did.)
I have another important summer strategy for you: low-proof cocktails. We’re hot, we’re thirsty, we want another one, and we don’t want to take unplanned naps on the porch swing. Again.
Enter sake! It’s nice with vegetables, and I’m not one to knock the classic combo of California rolls with hot sake. That said, we have a beautiful, underutilized beverage at our disposal in sake. It’s gentle, it’s elegant, it’s delicious, and it’s here to be your friend.
It’s also well suited to experimentation — cucumbers would be great here, so have a look in your vegetable crisper drawer and get funky, if that’s your thing. Most herbs would be good contenders too, or you can skip them altogether. If vegetables in your drink weird you out — and I understand — I’m sure fruity sake sangria has potential. It’s your bus to drive, pal!
As for me, I think my summer plans are set. Coffee shrubs (What? Amazing) in the morning, chilled sake at all other acceptable drinking hours. Bridges, boats, bands, and bluffs, too. Who has two thumbs and isn’t complaining?
(I. It’s me. let’s be drinking buddies ALL DAY, all summer. Cool?)
- 4-5 fresh sugar snap pea pods, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 sprig fresh dill (optional; see note)
- 2.5 ounces sake (Hakutsuru organic used here)
- 1 ounce St. Germain
- 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
- A couple dashes celery bitters
- Lemon twist, for garnish
- Muddle pea and dill (if using) really well with St. Germain in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add a big handful of ice, lemon juice, sake, and bitters. Shake well, then double-strain into a tall glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish and serve!
- I tried this without dill, and it was lovely that way too. Other herbs may work quite nicely also. Basil? A little tarragon? Mint?