In the wake of the devastating Fukushima earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the Japanese Embassy in Toronto held a charity event designed to raise international awareness and funds for those affected by the natural disaster. A Japanese bartender named Yuki Yamazaki designed cocktails for the event and was celebrated by the Canadian media.
Inspired, Yuki decided to plan production of The Japanese Bitters, drops of which could add the flavours of Japan to cocktails and more.
After travelling to Schiedam in the Netherlands in 2015, Yuki learned more about alcohol production at the Herman Jansen Distillery, a longstanding distillery with a history spanning more than 250 years. Yuki moved back to Japan and produced his own bitters within 2 years.
With five uniquely crafted bitters in the range, The Japanese Bitters add a special element to cocktails (and food) and are a staple for bar or pantry.
Bitters are created with Hinoki (Japanese Cypress). Hinoki is highly prized and from ancient times has been used in the construction of sacred temples. Hinoki bitters are made from 100% hinoki wood. The trees are harvested with permission from the area of Tama, a site outside of Tokyo. Hinoki bitters are the Japanese forest in liquid form.
Tasting notes: pine, resin, white spice, subtle lemon, gentle smoke
Recommended cocktails: Old Fashioned, Manhattan, White Negroni
Seasons change, and with them flowers, trees and plants. Spring brings forth sakura, cherry blossom. In Japan, the ability and art of appreciating sakura is known as hanami.
Sakura bitters is hanami in a bottle. Sailted and pickled to concentrate the delicate flavour of sakura, it encompasses spring and imparts a delicate, unique floral flavour to cocktails.
Tasting notes: floral, cherry, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cedar
Recommended cocktails: Balalaika, Wine Spritzer, Gin and Tonic
Perilla frutescans is an Asian culinary herb in the mint family. In Japanese cuisine, the whole shiso leaf is often used as a receptacle to hold wasabi or various condiments, and as a garnish. Shiso bitters are prepared using carefully selected blue shiso from the time-honoured Aoba plantation in Chiba, the home of premium quality shiso.
Tasting notes: herbaceous, spearmint, basil, cinnamon, anise
Recommended cocktails: Whisky Sour, Gin and Tonic, White Lady
Umami bitters’ ingredients of dried shiitake mushrooms, kelp and bonito have a high concentration of umami. This triad of Japanese ingredients allows for the ultimate synergy of umami. Elegantly balanced with citrus, umami bitters enhance delicate flavours and provide an unique savoury dimension.
Tasting notes: savoury, rich, brine, flavour of the sea
Recommended cocktails: Bloody Mary, Mezcal Negroni, Dirty Martini
The best known Japanese fruit. An incomparably tart citrus reminiscent of a heady lemon with bergamot. The skin resembles a small grapefruit with variable skin texture.
Yuzu fruit is sourced locally from farmers in Tokushima prefecture, a region renowned for yuzu production. The yuzu tree is prickly and the fruit difficult to pick, but like a rose, yuzu is worth the thorns.
Tasting notes: tart, grapefruit, lemon, bergamot
Recommended cocktails: Martini, Whisky Highball, Gin and Tonic