I don’t know if it’s laziness or contentment, but it really takes a lot for me to switch up the routine these days. It’s tomato season, for instance, and every time I come home with a mini haul, I imagine grand plans for tarts and pies for dinner, but just wind up slathering mayo on good white toast, topping them with thick-cut heirlooms, and eating my beloved tomato sandwiches while standing up at the counter for lunch. Just like I have for decades. So no one was more surprised than me when a few weeks ago I started mixing in a little yuzu juice to my gin and tonic, the drink I’ve been enjoying the same exact way for so long now, I was forced to write a manifesto about it.
What the heck is yuzu, you ask? I’ll tell you what it’s not: Kanye’s sneaker brand, which one of my college roommates asserted when I mentioned my discovery on the group chat. (Can I tell you how much I love that?)
It’s a tangerine-size shrively looking lemon whose juice has a bittery sour flavor and that does many wondrous things in Japanese and Korean cooking, but for our purposes today adds just the right amount of citrus to make my iconic summer cocktail even more iconically summery. I learned about it a few weeks ago when I ordered a yuzu gin and tonic for my lucky self at New York’s ABCv. And then I wouldn’t stop talking about it…and craving it. The bartender at ABC told me that fresh-squeezed yuzu juice is almost impossible to find, but I was determined. Later that week, I was in the Union Square area and ducked into a small Japanese market. This is what I found.
It wasn’t fresh pressed juice, but let me just say that it filled in just fine when we concocted a cocktail for ourselves to ring in the weekend later that night and many since then. It’s a purist’s favorite kind of twist on tradition: relatively inexpensive and only slightly adventurous.
Yuzu Gin & Tonics
Inspired by ABCv. You can find the extract at H Mart or Japanese specialty markets, but if you strike out, there are lots of options on Amazon.
The general rule for a gin and tonic, at least in my house, is 2 parts tonic to 1 part gin (way more details than you need in the original G&T post). I added about 1 tablespoon of Yuzu Extract to the gin (Tanqueray) before diluting it with tonic. Since I did not have a fresh yuzu, I garnished with a thinly sliced lime wheel.
P.S. There was that time when I made gazpacho for a week straight instead of tomato sandwiches.