A Sake Cocktail for Sushi Night


Departure, located in downtown Portland, Oregon, is a Pan-Asian restaurant and bar known for Chef Gregory Gourdet’s accessible Asian cuisine. Gourdet prides himself on the usage of only the most authentic ingredients and is dedicated to continuing ancient techniques. His menu is highlighted by many types of sashimi, sushi, dim sum, and kushiyaki (grilled skewers), and augmented by chili prawns and fried rice with Dungeness crab.

The cocktail menu includes many inventive, Asian-influenced drinks featuring fresh juices, herbs, and exotic ingredients. Mixologist Billy Poplarchik’s favorite creation is the Hokkaido Winter sipper, a mix of vodka, sake, shiso leaf, sliced apple, galangal, and simple syrup that highlights an impressive number of tastes, one after another.”When I create drinks, I like to keep our modern Asian theme in mind, as well as what is in season,” says Poplarchik. “Spiced apples remind me of the holidays. I think that the floral spiciness of the galangal with the herbaceous shiso and the tart apple play perfectly with the sake.”

Chef Gourdet pairs the drink with one specific item on his menu: charred-skin chicken. He say the “citrus ginger gel as well as a Thai chili jam [in the dish] . . . play well with galangal.” But this cocktail is subtle enough that it pairs extremely well with most Japanese cuisine, especially anything that involves wasabi or other spices.

Hokkaido Winter
(Makes one cocktail)


  • 1 1/2 oz Belvedere (Product) Red special-edition vodka
  • 1/2 oz Daiginjo sake
  • 1 shiso leaf
  • 1/4 apple
  • 1 thin slice of galangal
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice


Step One
Combine vodka, sake, shiso leaf, apple, and galangal in a mixing glass and muddle.

Step Two
Add simple syrup and lemon juice.

Step Three
Add ice and shake vigorously.

Step Four
Double strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Step Five
Garnish with a sprinkle of apple ash (see below).

Apple ash: Slice apple very thin and spread out on pan. Slowly roast on low heat until apple is brown and dry. When it is dry, it will easily break into large flakey crumbs, or “ash.”

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