In Japan, the frog is a common symbol of spring, perhaps due to the many species which erupt in song all throughout the rice fields this time of year. In “Spring Night”, Yoh Kakuda evokes the return of spring with a happy frog who is enjoying his sake one night, while he gazes at the hazy moon and beautiful flowering cherry blossoms. The Japanese word for frog, “kaeru”, sounds the same as the word meaning “return”. So for good luck and successful returns in all things, people will often carry a lucky frog with them.
Sake, you may know, is the traditional Japanese spirit made from fermented rice, which originated over 2500 years ago. Our lucky frog is drinking his sake from a traditional “masu” wooden box cup (an ancient box and booze) which holds a volume of 1 “go” (approximately 180 ml / 6 fl oz). He pours the sake into his cup from a “tokkuri”, the traditional bulbous flask with a narrow neck, and he likely lets the cup overflow, to show prosperity (and perhaps because he is a little drunk).
Clearly we need to have a sake drink with our lucky friend, and he looks like he might share. Spring calls for light, citrusy cocktails like the Daisy I described a few springs ago, and sake works perfectly in this setting as well. Carissa Pierce, known as the “Fermented Alaskan”, has a fondness for sake cocktails and created this simply perfect drink for the season. Her “Rise to the Occasion” cocktail is a classic daiquiri riff using plum sake. In my version I used nigori sake, known as “cloud” sake due to the cloudy appearance imparted by unfiltered and unfermented rice left in the liquid. I like the nigori style for its texture and sweetness, and it was perfect in this combination with white rum, lime juice and demerara sugar. Here’s to balmy evenings, sweet scents on the air, tantalizing tipples and a return of good fortunes. Cheers!
Hazy Moon adapted from Carissa Pierce
1 oz nigori sake
1 oz white rum
1 oz fresh lime
½ oz demerara (or simple) syrup
Shake together with ice and strain into a favorite glass. Garnish with something lucky.
For more about this lucky puzzle box see:
Boxes and Booze: Vernal Journal