Cocktail Friday: Cardamom-Lime Martini and a Mystery Drink

by Tokyo Terrace on September 20, 2009

Well, after a long week and a lot of cooking (which I was thrilled to do) I have finally found a little time to write this week’s Cocktail Friday post. I just got home (it is 12:30am in Tokyo) from a wonderful night of food, conversation, and Karaoke with great friends. My body is wasted but my mind is racing with thoughts. Such is my life here in Japan; so many things to think about and to do.

It has been a strange thing living in this country for many reasons. One of which is that I constantly feel in a state of amazement. I am stunned at the number of people that can fit in one train car. My transportation habits have transformed from mainly driving my own car to riding a bicycle. And perhaps the biggest change, aside from being away from my family, is the sheer joy I take in cooking food and sharing it with all of you. I am constantly reminded of the great gift this blog has been to me. So, to all of you dear readers, I wish to extend warm thanks. I would also like to thank my husband, who has been endlessly supportive of the time and energy I put into this blog. He has shown endless patience with my constant cooking, typing, and photographing. I am blessed.

Ok, moving on to Cocktail Friday…

Last spring, I had the wonderful experience of having one of my very best friends, Jenn, visit our Tokyo home. She has been my good friend since 8th grade and I am so thankful for that. When Jenn came to Japan, we planned a trip to Kyoto. On our first night there, we visited a random Chinese Izakaya (strange, I know…) The experience was unique in every way. We were served traditional Chinese fare (stir fried Chinese broccoli, dumplings, etc) and were even given a gift the end of the night. We each received a can of…wait for it…white gourd juice.

Yep. White gourd juice. What does one do with white gourd juice? I have been pondering this question for months and months. The can has been sitting on a shelf, collecting dust and taking up valuable real estate in our apartment. That is, until last Monday when I had a ‘light bulb’ moment. I decided it would be the perfect ingredient for Cocktail Friday!

So began my experimentation process. I tasted the juice timidly and found that it had a nutty, almost brown sugar-like flavor. It was strong tasting and reminded me a little bit of roasted butternut squash with its slight sweetness. I tried a few different methods of using the white gourd juice in a cocktail and only one seemed to really work. I made a simple syrup with star anise, cinnamon and allspice. Combined with some brandy and vodka, the cocktail had a pleasing aroma and comforting flavor. I think this could easily be served warm as well as cold and would be a perfect way to fulfill your hot toddy cravings!

While this cocktail was delicious, I knew many people would not be able to find white gourd juice. Except Jenn, who still has her can from Kyoto! So, I included a second cocktail for this post. The ingredients are not from a Chinese Izakaya in Kyoto and are much easier to come by.


Cardamom, lime and gin come together to create an amazingly delicious cocktail. Whole cardamom pods are simmered with the simple syrup, releasing the subtle citrus flavor that sometimes reminds me of Starburst candy (sorry, but it does!)

With a little tangy lime juice and a pine scented gin, the flavors are balanced perfectly. I hope you’ll try this unique cocktail.

I’d love for you to share in your comments what you are drinking this weekend!

Mystery Cocktail
Makes 1 cocktail

2 oz. white gourd juice
1 oz. brandy
1 oz vodka
1 tablespoon spiced simple syrup (recipe follows)

Combine the gourd juice, simple syrup, brandy and vodka in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until you just can’t shake anymore! Pour into a cocktail glass, garnish with a cinnamon stick and star anise. Serve!

Spiced simple syrup
makes one cup

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise pod
3 allspice cloves

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and allow to cool. Will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Cardamom-Lime Martini
Makes 1 martini

2 oz. gin
1 oz. vermouth
juice of 1/2 a lime
Cardamom simple syrup (recipe follows)

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake!! Pour into a martini glass, garnish with a lime wedge and cardamom pods and serve!

Cardamom Simple Syrup
makes about 1 cup

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
8 cardamom pods

Simmer ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat for 15 minutes. Pour into a bowl to cool. Will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

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  • http://www.MyLastBite.com/ MyLastBite

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL and fascinating!

  • http://www.MyLastBite.com MyLastBite

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL and fascinating!

  • http://www.sarahmelamed.com/ sarah

    I never heard of white gourd juice before and it sounds quite exotic from here. love your innovation, perhaps white gourd juice will become the next trend after this post. Great photos.

  • http://www.sarahmelamed.com sarah

    I never heard of white gourd juice before and it sounds quite exotic from here. love your innovation, perhaps white gourd juice will become the next trend after this post. Great photos.

  • http://wasabiprime.blogspot.com/ wasabi prime

    WOW. Again, beautiful beautiful photos. I love the glass for the “mystery drink.” Major props for your use of different herbs and spices. They really add a special thing to a drink versus just sugar, sugar, sugar. I just went to one of my favorite local bars, Naga, and they had a guest bartender who made this cocktail called a Saffron Sandalwood Sour. Gin, fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, saffron syrup, angostura, egg white, and then the real interesting bit — a light dusting of sandalwood powder over the egg white froth. It’s not so much for the flavor, but you get the heady scent of the sandalwood as you drink the beverage. I can imagine your drinks engage the sense of smell as much as taste, and that shows complex mixology!

  • http://wasabiprime.blogspot.com wasabi prime

    WOW. Again, beautiful beautiful photos. I love the glass for the “mystery drink.” Major props for your use of different herbs and spices. They really add a special thing to a drink versus just sugar, sugar, sugar. I just went to one of my favorite local bars, Naga, and they had a guest bartender who made this cocktail called a Saffron Sandalwood Sour. Gin, fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, saffron syrup, angostura, egg white, and then the real interesting bit — a light dusting of sandalwood powder over the egg white froth. It’s not so much for the flavor, but you get the heady scent of the sandalwood as you drink the beverage. I can imagine your drinks engage the sense of smell as much as taste, and that shows complex mixology!

  • Rachel F.

    Definitely gonna try the Cardamom one- I have everything but the cardamom! :)
    Have you heard Johnny Legends song about spices from this year’s Colbert Christmas? Look it up- you’ll have a good laugh! :)

  • Rachel F.

    Definitely gonna try the Cardamom one- I have everything but the cardamom! :)
    Have you heard Johnny Legends song about spices from this year’s Colbert Christmas? Look it up- you’ll have a good laugh! :)

  • Jenni

    Hi Rachel,

    I was looking at all of your recipes and am wondering when you’re going to publish a cook book? I think you have a great start to a new adventure!

    ~ Jenni

  • Jenni

    Hi Rachel,

    I was looking at all of your recipes and am wondering when you’re going to publish a cook book? I think you have a great start to a new adventure!

    ~ Jenni

  • http://aromasysabores-heidileon.blogspot.com/ heidileon

    well, I might be able to find white gourd juice..I’ll let you know if I do.

    this past couple of drinks (and the following ones) I been intentionally skipping alcohol drinks since I’m no a diet, but, yesterday I couldn’t refuse a very nice host party who offer me a delicious aperitivo in the form of a Campari with orange juice.

    maybe you can share with us some low cal drinks once in a while? it will be deeply appreciated :)

  • http://aromasysabores-heidileon.blogspot.com/ heidileon

    well, I might be able to find white gourd juice..I’ll let you know if I do.

    this past couple of drinks (and the following ones) I been intentionally skipping alcohol drinks since I’m no a diet, but, yesterday I couldn’t refuse a very nice host party who offer me a delicious aperitivo in the form of a Campari with orange juice.

    maybe you can share with us some low cal drinks once in a while? it will be deeply appreciated :)

  • http://www.sense-serendipity.blogspot.com/ Divina

    The only thing I know on what to do about cocktail is just drink them. But I don’t know how to make them. Your cocktails are innovative, classy and sophisticated.

  • http://www.sense-serendipity.blogspot.com Divina

    The only thing I know on what to do about cocktail is just drink them. But I don’t know how to make them. Your cocktails are innovative, classy and sophisticated.

  • tokyoterrace

    Divina: Well, at least you know to drink them! That’s the important part!

  • tokyoterrace

    Divina: Well, at least you know to drink them! That’s the important part!

  • tokyoterrace

    Heidileon: I can certainly try to make some low cal drinks. However, most of the simple syrups can be made using honey instead of sugar which makes them much more diet friendly.

  • tokyoterrace

    Heidileon: I can certainly try to make some low cal drinks. However, most of the simple syrups can be made using honey instead of sugar which makes them much more diet friendly.

  • tokyoterrace

    MyLastBite: Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  • tokyoterrace

    MyLastBite: Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  • tokyoterrace

    Sarah: I hadn’t heard of it either until recently. It really is a unique flavor and worked well in this cocktail!

  • tokyoterrace

    Sarah: I hadn’t heard of it either until recently. It really is a unique flavor and worked well in this cocktail!

  • tokyoterrace

    wasabiprime: Thank you! The drink you described in your comment sounds amazing (and I loved your blog post about it as well!) You always have such nice things to say- thank you for being such a great blogging friend!

  • tokyoterrace

    Rachel: Let me know what you think if you do try it! I’m going to look up the Johnny Legends song right now!

  • tokyoterrace

    wasabiprime: Thank you! The drink you described in your comment sounds amazing (and I loved your blog post about it as well!) You always have such nice things to say- thank you for being such a great blogging friend!

  • tokyoterrace

    Rachel: Let me know what you think if you do try it! I’m going to look up the Johnny Legends song right now!

  • tokyoterrace

    Jenni: Good question…know any good publishers willing to take a risk on me? :)

  • tokyoterrace

    Jenni: Good question…know any good publishers willing to take a risk on me? :)

  • http://mattatouille.com/ mattatouille

    i never realized how stunning a garnish star anise would make. love it.

  • http://mattatouille.com mattatouille

    i never realized how stunning a garnish star anise would make. love it.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this beautifully presented little vignette of life in Tokyo. I was looking for a cardomon cocktail recipe after being served one last night by good friends. Yours will be attempted here so your influnece spreads to Southern UK. Isn’t the web fantastic?

  • Anonymous

    So glad you came across this recipe! Hope you enjoy it!

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