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I’m not really much of a “fancy drinks” guy. Put a beer (or three) in front of me and I’m a happy, happy Sumo. I’m slowly becoming more versed in the area of wine, but I still don’t know much about it. As far as mixed drinks go, I actually know a fair bit about them, as I was a bartender back in the day, but they’re not my first choice of beverages.

That being said, lately I’ve noticed that some of my friends and fellow bloggers have been posting their current favorite summer drinks, so I figured I’d pull a trick out of my hat that I haven’t used since I was a kid – The CopyCat Gambit.

I found the recipe for this drink a while back, labelled as a “Japanese Summer Breeze”. Obviously, the name grabbed my attention by the short hairs right away, but I didn’t bother with testing it at the time, I just added it to my ever-growing catalog of “Things To Try at Some Unspecified Future Date”. Once I made the decision to jump on the summer drink bandwagon, I dug out the specs and took a closer look.

About the only thing I could see that made this a “Japanese” drink was the inclusion of matcha, or powdered green tea. The booze in this drink (vodka) didn’t really speak to my Japanese soul at all, so there was really only on option – I decided to switch it out for sake. Sake has a much lower alcohol content than vodka, but it’s Japanese, and that’s the important bit here.

Not too surprisingly, I had both matcha and sake on hand, as well as the other ingredients, raw sugar and a couple of limes. A little measuring, pouring, and shaking later, I had a relatively tasty, if somewhat unattractive beverage. The matcha gave the beverage a sickly, greenish color that reminded me of week-old swamp water. Not exactly appetizing, to say the least.

Not being able to leave it alone, I went back to the drawing board and tried to figure out how to fix it. I decided to utilize a different type of tea, called genmaicha. This variety of tea is a combination of green tea leaves and roasted brown rice, which when brewed, has a lovely, clear golden color.

Before I had a chance to try the new tea in the drink, I happened to find myself on a shopping trip with my homegirl Michelle Peters-Jones, the owner and food goddess of The Tiffin Box. Mich needed to procure some wine, so we paid a visit to Aligra Wine & Spirits. While mi hermana picked out her wines, I spent a few minutes browsing the store, and managed to find a fuji apple flavored sake. I had no idea such an item even existed, but I immediately began considering the possibilities for my current experiment. After a brief moment, I figured that the end result would be bloody friggin’ spectacular.

As it turned out, I was right, as I usually am. The fuji apple sake paired beautifully with the genmaicha, and the lime added the perfect amount of brightness to the drink, resulting in a light, refreshing libation for the hot summer days (or nights!) here in Alberta. Out of respect to the original recipe, I have named this drink Kunpū, which is, of course, Japanese for “summer breeze”.

2 oz fuji apple flavored sake
6 oz genmaicha
1 oz raw sugar
Juice from 1 lime
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with Japanese mint. Or plain old regular mint, if you can’t find Japanese mint.

For a non-alcoholic version, substitute the sake with 2 oz of apple juice.

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