Samurai’s Solace and Fuji’s Dream: Drinks Inspired By Japanese Woodblock Prints
Japanese woodblock prints, or ukiyo-e, hold a special place in the realm of art and culture. Dating back to the 8th century, these motifs are known for their nuanced storytelling and captivating imagery, traditionally drawn on a thin yet durable sheet of paper. Cocktail culture is known to be consistently shaped by artistic expression. And in the spirit of modern creativity, why not blend the compelling depth of ukiyo-e with the ever-evolving world of mixology? Here’s a spin on drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, inspired by the art form.
Samurai’s Solace: A Whisky Tribute
Think of a samurai, stoic and noble, depicted in a classic ukiyo-e. For Samurai’s Solace, we have chosen Antiquity Blue, 50 ml, to capture that spirit of nobility. Mix it with a bit of ginger syrup for a fiery kick and a splash of freshly brewed oolong tea to add a layer of earthiness. Serve this cocktail steeped in honour and tradition in a short glass with a piece of crystallised ginger perched on the rim.
The grace of Geisha, often illustrated in these woodblock prints, inspired Geisha’s Whisper. This one's a delicate symphony of flavours with 60 ml Tanqueray No 10 Gin, mixed with a drizzle of cherry blossom syrup and a hint of fresh lemon juice. Add Gordon’s Tonic Water and garnish with a thin lemon spiral. Light yet floral, this cocktail represents the grace and poise of a geisha.
Mount Fuji, standing tall and majestic in many prints, is the muse for Fuji’s Dream. Here, 60 ml Smirnoff Vodka, combined with 20 ml of yuzu juice for its unique citrus flavour and a touch of lychee syrup, creates a captivating drink. Add a splash of soda water and garnish with a skewered lychee. It’s a cocktail that echoes the serene beauty of Japan’s iconic peak.
Sakura Season: A Rum Rhapsody
The fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms is an enduring theme in ukiyo-e. Sakura Season celebrates this with a rum base. 50 ml Captain Morgan Dark Rum, 10 ml of syrup infused with cherry blossom, and a splash of grapefruit juice come together in a celebration of spring. The final layer of pomegranate juice mimics the sakura petals floating in the air. Poetry in motion, this drink is a snapshot of Japanese gardens, portrayed widely in the art form.
Koi Pond: A Zen Mocktail
Finally, for a serene, non-alcoholic option, Tranquil Pond reflects the calm of a Koi pond. Blend freshly brewed jasmine tea with 50 ml of peach juice and a squeeze of lemon. Sweeten to taste with honey, and top with the spritzy Johnnie Walker Refreshing Mixer. Pour over ice and garnish with a twist of lemon peel and edible flowers, creating a scene of peace in your glass.
These drinks present a unique way to engage with the timeless ukiyo-e art form and understand its context and interactions with society. So, for your next ‘art and sip’ night, upgrade your interest in art appreciation and whip up these beauties for guests.