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Yuzu Sour

A welcome gift each year during the dark days of winter, seasonal citrus hits market shelves like a burst of bright sunshine, and yuzu offers a uniquely appealing option. Thought to be a hybrid between a mandarin and a species of the Papeda citrus group, the fruit’s exact origins are debated, with some pointing to Korea and others to the upper regions of China’s Yangzte River. The fruit was introduced to Japan more than 1,000 years ago and remains widely cultivated today.

The bumpy-skinned fruit is packed with seeds and not typically eaten raw, but the juice offers a delightfully tart flavor akin to a mash-up between lemon, mandarin, and grapefruit. Even more enticing are the rich aromatics of the peel, which make the fruit a vibrant addition to cocktails. “Yuzu works great in this Japanese-inspired Whisky Sour for its unique floral aromas and mellow tartness,” says Darryl Chan, head bartender at Bludorn in Houston. Chan’s wintry riff marries the East Asian fruit with Japanese whisky, complemented by the spice of a star anise syrup and garnish. “I wanted to captivate drinkers with the aromas from the toasted star anise garnish that melds with the floral aromas from the yuzu juice, even before the first sip,” says Chan.


  • 1 1/2 oz. Japanese whisky (Chan uses Suntory Toki)
  • 3/4 oz. Cynar
  • 3/4 oz. yuzu juice
  • 1/2 oz. star anise syrup
  • 3 drops sarsaparilla bitters (optional, Chan uses Bad Dog Bar Craft Bitters)
  • Tools:shaker, strainer, fine strainer
  • Glass:double rocks
  • Garnish:star anise


Shake all of the ingredients with ice, then double strain into a glass filled with a large ice cube. Lightly toast one star anise pod with a flame, then use as garnish.

Star Anise SyrupHeat 1 quart of simple syrup (1:1). Just as it starts to simmer, add 18 grams of star anise, and remove from the heat. Let the syrup cool, and steep for 4 hours. Strain and bottle for use within 2 weeks.

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