This drink is a true fusion. It doesn’t fit in Japanese culture or in U.S. culture; it wouldn’t be recognized in either place that it might call home. Because Japanese whiskey is getting the best grades of any whiskey in the world right now, it was easy to make THE BIG READ HOLLAND AREA 2017 signature cocktail based on it. The Big Read Holland is a community-wide reading program in its 4th year. This year, their book choice is Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine. Because the book is based on events surrounding the Japanese internment camps during World War 2, I wanted to develop a cocktail that fused both countries and cultures. The lemongrass, lemon, and ginger that round out the drink bring a big hit of flavor from these Eastern ingredients.
Serves 20 (in 10 oz. rocks glasses filled halfway with ice)
5 ½ c Japanese whiskey (I prefer this one; order it here in my hometown.)3 c lemon juice2 ½ c lemongrass-ginger simple syrup*4 c club soda1 large piece of ginger, cut into 16 long matchstick-sized slices
Combine the first three ingredients in a gallon jug. Stir to combine and then chill. When ready to serve, fill the gallon jug with 4 cups of club soda and serve with a garnish of ginger sticks.
*Lemongrass-Ginger Simple Syrup
2-4 inch stalks lemongrass2 inches ginger root2 c sugar2 c water
Slice the dry ends off the lemongrass. Next, slice down the center of the lemongrass and then slice in long quarters and toss these into a pot with the water and sugar. After you have done this, slice the ginger in half, then take the flat side of a knife blade and smash the ginger a little bit so that it opens up to release the oils. Toss the ginger into the sugar syrup and heat on medium until it boils; allow it to boil for one minute. Remove from heat and let flavors set in the pan for 30 minutes. Transfer to a Ball jar and chill if you are not using it immediately.
With credit to There Will be Bourbon blog for inspiration.
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Photo Credit: Bridging Her Story