Gunner’s Libation: Uku Rouge
Start to finish: 5 minutes
2 ounces Junmai-style sake
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1 ounce Cotes du Rhone, or other medium-bodied red wine
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the sake, vermouth and orange juice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Holding a spoon cup-side-down over the glass, slowly pour the wine over the back of the spoon, so that it falls gently into the glass and floats above the other ingredients.
As any food lover knows, our culinary creations have a natural best friend, one that is so ingrained in the food world that the Culinary Institute of America has entire programs dedicated to its study: wine. Food’s favorite companion has been a part of our dining tradition as far back as 4100 B.C., but despite its long, rich history, it remains a mystery to many of us. With seemingly endless origins and varieties, it can be daunting to choose the right wine, and even avid wine-drinkers may feel as though they are simply guessing. And while being a wine expert is not essential to the enjoyment of a glass of wine, there is a satisfaction that comes from knowing your way around a wine list. Luckily, the Culinary Institute of American has you covered. The uku rouge is one of our favorite cocktails. Named for its red (rouge, in French) and floating (uku, in Japanese) elements, the cocktail is best prepared with a bright, Junmai-style sake and Cotes du Rhone red wine, though any medium-bodied red wine will work. The cocktail is visually beautiful, with deep red wine literally floating on top of the orange-hued blend of sake, sweet vermouth and orange juice. With its combination of flavors and ingredients, the uku rouge is a chameleon. It is refreshing enough to enjoy during a cocktail party on your back patio, but also transitions beautifully as an aperitif before a summer dinner party. And with three different types of wine, it will give you the opportunity to show off all of your new wine trivia.
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Perhaps it’s because we are in the abbreviated days of winter and I instinctively know that the sun is shining down-under. But every January I go through a nostalgic period where Australian wine dominates my mind.