Warm Cocktails Rise As Temperatures Drop

We may have temporarily escaped the winter chill, but there’s plenty more of that dreaded deep-freeze in the forecast for the week ahead. The good news is you’ll have plenty of time to stock up on your favourite sake or make a reservation at KI Modern Japanese + Bar (Toronto and Calgary). Why, you ask? The reason is simple: Warm cocktails are literally one of the hottest trends going and offer the perfect way to spice up the rest of your winter. We talked to experienced mixologist, Sake Sommelier and Wine Sommelier Michael Tremblay of KI to find out more about how the restaurant’s fuelling the trend and how young professionals can create their own fiery sake-infused creations at home… 

Why do you think warm cocktails have caught on as a trend this winter?
I think that Canadians are definitely warming up to warm cocktails.  At KI, our warm sake cocktails have become a very popular way to ward off the winter chills.   

What are some great warm cocktails for first-times to order at a bar/restaurant?
At KI we currently offer several fantastic warm sake-inspired cocktails to ward off the winter chills. From our autumnal Star Spiced Ringo with spiced apple cider and warm Junmai sake, to our Sake Seechu with elderflower infusion, there’s a warm sake cocktail for everyone. Even if you are new to warm cocktails, these are friendly and easy to drink.  

What are some of the most popular warm cocktails to make at home?
Ki’s Samurai’s Addiction (pictured) is a fun and easy warm sake cocktail to make at home.

2 oz warm Kagatobi Gokkan Junmai Sake 3⁄4 oz Kahlua
1 drop Angostura bitters
1 Cardamom pod
1 drop Cardamom bitters
Orange zest

Method: Muddle the cardamom pod with bitters. Add Kahlua and Sake. Serve in a snifter garnished with orange zest.

Do you have any personal favourites?
My favourite is the Samurai’s Addiction, which combines the blending power of warm premium sake with muddled cardamom, bitters, Fernet Branca, Kahlua and garnished with orange rind.

This cocktail has warm, herbal aromas from the cardamom and bitters, which marry nicely with the coffee and orange. The sake provides a wonderful silky textural backbone. It’s a soothing way to finish a dinner at KI!

What makes sake the ideal liquor as a base for warm cocktails? 
When you warm up sake, you can really bring out some wonderful, warm and rich flavours, which lend themselves perfectly to great cocktails. In addition to this,  sake naturally blends well with a myriad if ingredients. It not only blends well but brings various ingredients together in harmony. It also provides backbone and texture to a warm cocktail. There are also many different aroma and flavour profiles to play with, so it can be a lot of fun experimenting.

What are some key ingredients you find yourself using in your cocktail creations? (tea, cardamom, etc.)?
Our Chef, Elio Zannoni, loves to work with many different ingredients, including various infused bitters that act as a seasoner to his creations. Since KI is lucky to have many exotic ingredients from the Japanese kitchen, such as fresh yuzu juice, calpico and Shiso, he likes to incorporate these when he can. Moreover, in order to pick the best sake for Chef Elio’s vision, I work with him to find a sake that will suit the profile he is after. After all, with close to 60 sakes in our restaurant, there are many different styles and characteristics to explore. 

Do you think the warm cocktail trend will continue into spring/summer?
The warm sake cocktail trend will definitely continue into the spring. Once the summer weather comes, our guests at KI come and enjoy our patio and our refreshing chilled sake-inspired cocktails.


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