When fresh citrus is scarce, we look to liqueurs to bring much-needed, fruity tartness to our drinks. While orange curaçao is great, it’s nothing compared to Yuzuri, the new Japanese yuzu liqueur that may just be the best citrus liqueur we’ve ever had.
Yuzuri yuzu liqueur, which debuted this past November, comes from Los Angeles-based distiller Ann Soh Woods of Soh Spirits, who brought Japanese rice whisky Kikori to the U.S. in 2015. “Yuzu, one of the best kept secrets in Japan, has been quietly used by local and international chefs for decades to complement the flavors of many dishes,” Woods said at the launch of the liqueur. “Yuzuri is a natural extension of my passion for the flavors of Japan.”
Yuzu is described as the lovechild between a lemon and a mandarin orange, and both of those citrus fruits are present at first sniff, along with subtler aromas of lime, grapefruit and fragrant bergamot. Take a sip and you’ll immediately be hit with how incredibly fresh it tastes. Unlike many citrus liqueurs, Yuzuri only uses natural ingredients, with a focus on the yuzu fruit, including everything from the peel to the fruit to the juice.
Once a year, in the fall, farmers hand pick the yuzu fruit in Japan. Soh Spirits blend the whole fruit and the juice with the same rice spirit used to make Kikori whisky, along with beet sugar and Australian sugar cane. They then leave the spirit to steep for a month.
The result is a liqueur that tastes like a particularly tangy mandarin orange or a sugared lemon. It’s more sour than you might expect, with bright, mouth puckering acidity that isn’t anything like its sweeter Italian cousin, limoncello. As fresh yuzu is hard to obtain stateside, this liqueur makes a wonderful replacement for the fruit in any Japanese-inspired cocktail.
Try mixing it into a citrusy Japanese Highball, where it can mingle with the pristine, floral notes of Japanese whisky. Alternatively, play up the tarter qualities of Yuzuri by using it in a riff on the Whiskey Sour or even a Margarita. You could also sip it chilled and neat, like you would a glass of limoncello after dinner.
However you choose to experiment with it, we definitely recommend putting the dusty bottle of curaçao back in the liquor cabinet and making room on your bar for Yuzuri.
Yuzuri is being sold for $45 online at Hi-Time Wine Cellars, as well as select retailers in California and Hawaii.