While visiting the Japan last month for Cherry Blossom season, my first stop was to the small tropical island of Okinawa to meet up with my daughter Shelby, who has been stationed there with the US Navy for a couple of years. This small Island had much to teach me beyond Shisas Dogs at every doorstep, Flying Foxes in the sky, the real meaning of Hacksaw Ridge and living longer than anyone else on earth. Yes, there was also new alcohols to try… and a lot of them.
The trip to Japan was to be an island hopping whisky & sake tour with Shelby and her husband Kevin, the cherry blosooms were just a lucky bonus for us. On our first night, we had conveyor belt sushi and picked up cans of Chu-Hi at a 7-11, What the hell was this magical grapefuit soda stuff? This is alcohol? Somebody better stop me from drinking these before I end up in a gutter. They are more addictive than Diet Coke. More about my Chu-Hi adventures later I promise. From that moment on, I knew I was in for a crash course on Japenese alcohol. I already loved Japan!
On my second day in Okinawa I visited Shuri Castle 首里城, Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters and found Okinawas own, Masahiro Gin. I had a crushed peppercorn gin and tonic. I am not going to tell you this was the best G&T of my life but it was eye opening for sure. Zesty and a bit off my radar, I liked it enough to seach for more and know it was worth my limited time in Japan to explore. My intrest in expanding the whisky & sake tour to all alcohols started to peak… and that is how this booze adventure and the recipe for the Pink Peppercorn Gin & Tonic began.
Turned out gin is a somewhat new craft gin movement on the island of Okinawa and all of Japan. If you already knew about it bravo, you get a gold star, this was all new to me. I felt like an entire world of alcohol was opening up. Finally something that all my years as a nightclub owner and fan of The Vapors had prepared me for, I was with every cocktail :Turning Japanese
In the weeks to come we flew to Osaka, then a flight to Kyoto, took the bullet train to Hiroshima (where I fell in love with pink gin), then a boat to deer island and one more flight touching down in Tokyo trying out new drinks on the way. Each city and every cocktail was an experince in its own right. They were infused with matchas and coffee, crushed cherry bloosoms and dried fruits. We found some real gems in the craft gin arena. Kyoto Dry Gin was dry with botanicals such as yellow yuzu, hinoki wood chips (Japanese cypress), bamboo, gyokuro tea from the Uji region and it had green sanshō (Japanese peppercorn) berries in it… interesting.
Then it was Suntory Time. If you follow my social media you know Suntory is my 1st True Love. Suntory also used Sanshō peppers and they added Sakura flower and leaves. That was a wrap for me. By the time I left Kyoto, my mind was thinking about the pink peppercorns that hang from the trees back home in Santa Barbara & developing my own peppercorn cocktail.
When I returned home to California I set out to make something of my own with the California Peppercorn Tree leaves, their flowers and ginger. After infusing all the Fords Gin I had left on my home bar, and loving the resuts, I headed to Bevmo to restock and found that Suntory favorite, ROKU Gin, and went home to creat the Pink Peppercorn G&T
How to make a Pink Peppercorn Gin &Tonic
Time: 5 minutes | 5 days for to infuse Gin
2 Dehydrated Blood Orange Slices, fresh can also be used if that is to your liking or you are short on time
Leaf of Pink Peppercorn Tree
Crystal clear ice
2 oz Pink Peppercorn and Ginger infused Gin
Fever Tree Tonic water to fill the glass
Infuse one full bottle (750ml) of gin with 1/4 cup Pink Peppercorn Berries, one small stick of ginger and a leaf of the Peppercorn Tree. If you like a rich floral bouquet in your drinks add a ribbioned Kaffir Lime leaf. The hardest part: Wait 5 days. The Pink Peppercorn Berries will be white and you can strain and rebottle your creation.
When you are ready to enjoy your cocktail get a crystal clean glass and wet the Peppercorn Leaf slightly and postion onthe inside of the glass so it pleases the eye. ( I use a spray bottle mister of water when creating many drinks at the same time) Add your one or 2 slices of dehydrated Blood Orange and then ice to hold it in place. Add the Peppercorn Gin and Fever Tree Tonic.
Thats it… Let me know if you try it. The Pink Peppercorn G&T will be your new Keto friendly go to summer drink. Thanks for stopping by to see me. Remember to hit that subscribe button to hear more about the adventures in Japan and as always my friend: Carpe Noctem from The Queen Of Nightlife, Anneliese Place!