Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Cocktails

Kyoto Sour

Kyoto Sour cocktail with clear ice in a thin-walled rocks glass, garnished with grapefruit wedges and mint
Image: / Tim Nusog

Sake is often served alongside sushi or paired with beer and salty snacks, but the brewed rice beverage native to Japan isn’t just for sipping. The versatile drink can be incorporated into cocktails as a base or an accent, lending its unique flavor profile, which ranges widely from sweet and fruity to herbaceous and bone dry.

The Kyoto Sour comes from drinks consultant, author and sake enthusiast Paul Tanguay. He combines Gekkeikan Haiku sake with lemon juice and agave nectar, plus the unexpected combination of grapefruit and green Tabasco.

Gekkeikan Haiku is classified as a tokubetsu junmai sake, or “special” junmai, in which the rice used to brew it is polished up to 60% to concentrate the grain’s bright, clean flavors. The sake is herbaceous, with hints of pear and apple, good acidity and a medium-dry finish. It merges seamlessly with the lemon juice in the cocktail, while agave nectar adds a touch of sweetness. The green Tabasco sauce is muddled with the fresh grapefruit slices, which brings a zesty spice to the drink.

The Kyoto Sour shows sake’s versatility. More than just a sipping product, it can be incorporated with a variety of ingredients—yes, even hot sauce.


  • 2 grapefruit slices

  • 2 dashes green Tabasco sauce

  • 3 ounces Gekkeikan Haiku sake

  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 3/4 ounce agave nectar

  • Garnish: grapefruit slice

  • Garnish: mint sprig


  1. In a shaker, muddle the grapefruit and Tabasco.

  2. Add the sake, lemon juice and agave nectar with ice, and shake until well-chilled.

  3. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.

  4. Garnish with a grapefruit slice and a fresh mint sprig.