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honeydew, shiso + kiwi sake cocktails | low abv is a good thing

cocktails, drinks, fruits, gin, other spirits, summer, wine

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Low ABV cocktails. They’re definitely a thing. I’ve even spotted drink lists with entire sections dedicated to highlighting these lower-in-alcohol tipples. My former college self would most likely have scoffed at ordering a cocktail intentionally made with less alcohol, but at this point in my life, I’m more into sessionable, summer sippers – cocktails that don’t knock you on your face after just one.

This is where I’ve loved mixing either wine or vermouth or sake in my cocktails. Each of those components brings unique flavors and textures to a drink, and they are relatively low in alcohol, by volume. This particular cocktail tastes more like a tropical juice drink than a boozy cocktail. There’s just enough gin to add some complexity and a slight kick, but there’s plenty of muddled kiwi and honeydew to keep you hydrated.

Because summer.honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora

Aside from the fresh honeydew melon and kiwi fruit, there’s another key ingredient that quenches your thirst in this particular recipe – drinking vinegar. I’ve made drinking vinegars or “shrubs” here on the site before, and those are usually what I stick to using in my cocktails. They give a great, sour kick of acidity and concentrated flavor in a drink recipe. Recently, I’ve been introduced to several great packaged drinking vinegar options, including Genki-Su, Shrub & Co., and a local option, Strongwater.

Have you found any that you’ve enjoyed?

I incorporated one of Genki-Su‘s drinking vinegars in this recipe. Genki-Su is a small, Portland-based company that uses a family recipe to craft drinking vinegars without any added sugar, using a base of coconut vinegar. After the lovely folks there supplied me with a few varieties to try, I immediately found my favorite flavor – shiso. I found it balanced, flavorful, and truly unique.

Shiso is the Japanese word for Perilla, an herb belonging to the very large mint family. Shiso is also known as “beefsteak plant” or “Japanese basil.” This leafy, fragrant herb is actually bright and minty in flavor, with notes of strawberries and plums, and it pairs beautifully with ginger, ripe apples, citrus fruits, melons, and basil.

honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora

Adding a little gin, which is always a good match with sake, to some freshly muddled honeydew and kiwi was definitely a good idea. The mixture needed just a little acidity to bring balance, and that’s where the drinking vinegar and a splash of freshly squeezed lime juice came into play. I actually thought about finishing the cocktail with Prosecco, instead of the soda water, but I really liked keeping this drink focused on the fruit and less on adding any extra alcohol here.


honeydew, shiso + kiwi sake cocktails


  • 4 ounces honeydew, peeled and chopped
  • 3 ounces kiwi, sliced
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ounce shiso drinking vinegar {Genki-Su}
  • 2 ounces gin {I used Hendrick’s}
  • 3 ounces junmai sake {I used Beni Mansaku Junmai Ginjo}
  • sparkling water, to finish
  • basil sprigs or fresh shiso leaves, for garnish
  • kiwi slices, for garnish
  • honeydew spears, for garnish
  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the honeydew and kiwi together, until pulverized.
  2. Prep two cocktail glasses with ice and set aside.
  3. Add the lime juice, drinking vinegar, gin, and sake to the mixing tin.
  4. Fill the tin with ice, cover, and shake very well.
  5. Double-strain into the prepped cocktail glasses. Optionally, you can forego double-straining and simply strain through a Hawthorne strainer, for a denser, smoothie-like textured cocktail. I preferred mine a little lighter in texture, however.
  6. Top with soda and garnish with the basil sprigs, kiwi slices, and honeydew spears.
  • This recipe yields 2 cocktails.
  • I haven’t tried it yet, but I feel these ingredients, sans the soda water, would make a killer frozen, blended cocktail. Just add a little more ice and blend until smooth.
  • I made this cocktail without any added sugar, but if you prefer it a little sweeter, add a touch of simple syrup or agave nectar. Just after you’ve shaken all of the ingredients well, taste for balance, and add your choice of sweeter and shake again to incorporate.

I wanted to add that Genki-Su is available for purchase online, and they’ve kindly provided a discount code for my readers. Just enter the discount code, genkisuforhollyandflora, when you place an order with them on their website.


honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora

I’ll close with some recent shots from the summer garden. It’s going absolutely crazy right now!! The plants have really taken root and are starting to seriously grow. The intense heat wave we’ve experienced here in Denver has been the only challenge so far. The tender lettuce, baby spinach, and the bok choy all want to bolt, so I’m hoping we get a little reprieve soon.

Cheers and stay cool and hydrated!!

Jayme

 

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  1. Shiso! How fascinating! Their products are NOT available online. I tried. I really want to see what this tastes like! I like drinking ACV with ginger.

    • I loved their shiso vinegar because it is so unique. I reached out to their company and will let you know what I hear. I know they have an online shop; perhaps it is down. I’ll keep you posted, Noelle. 💞 …and ACV, ginger, and lemon are staples around here, too. Soo good for you.

  2. danielle is rooting the sun says:

    catching up on beautiful things this weekend jayme! ever since these gorgeous cocktails landed in my inbox i’ve been dreaming of them. i’m a huge honeydew fan and i’ve got a hefty shiso plant singing in the garden right now – this is instantly on the menu. also, i’ve been adoring your garden updates! happy holiday weekend.

  3. Shiso and honeydew! Never thought of the two together. Looks amazing and refreshing. Can’t wait to try it.

    • I know, right?? That shiso drinking vinegar might be a little tricky to find, but you can definitely find fresh shiso in many Asian markets, so you can play around with flavor combinations. I’m sure it would lovely muddled along with honeydew in some fort of cocktail.

  4. […] honeydew, kiwi, and shiso sake cocktail. It’s low in alcohol, but high in fresh, zesty flavor – perfect for sipping all summer […]

  5. […] honeydew, kiwi, and shiso sake cocktail. It’s low in alcohol, but high in fresh, zesty flavor – perfect for sipping all summer […]

  6. […] Les adjectifs manquent pour décrire ce sympathique cocktail d’été. Superbe, savoureux, original, frais et désaltérant, ce rafraîchissement est idéal pour une garden-party. Il enjolivera le décor et surprendra vos convives. Plutôt faible en alcool, il convient parfaitement à une réception extérieure lors d’une chaude journée ensoleillée. Afin de consulter la recette complète de ce cocktail à base de saké, de melon miel, de kiwi, de gin, de lime, de shiso et d’eau gazéifiée, visitez-le hollyandflora.com. […]

  7. […] There aren’t enough adjectives to describe this delicious summer cocktail. Superb, savoury, original, fresh and thirst-quenching, this refreshment is ideal for a garden party. It will embellish the decor and will also surprise your guests. Quite low in alcohol, it is perfect for an outdoor party during sunny warm summer days. In order to view the complete recipe of this saké, honeydew, kiwi, gin, lime, shiso and sparkling water cocktail, visit hollyandflora.com. […]

  8. […] Les adjectifs manquent pour décrire ce sympathique cocktail d’été. Superbe, savoureux, original, frais et désaltérant, ce rafraîchissement est idéal pour une garden-party. Il enjolivera le décor et surprendra vos convives. Plutôt faible en alcool, il convient parfaitement à une réception extérieure lors d’une chaude journée ensoleillée. Afin de consulter la recette complète de ce cocktail à base de saké, de melon miel, de kiwi, de gin, de lime, de shiso et d’eau gazéifiée, visitez-le hollyandflora.com. […]

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