Raba Raba · Hojoko

By Eric Twardzik · 01/24/2020

Moscow Mules sometimes feel like the vanilla ice cream of the cocktail world. They don’t displease anyone, but they’re rarely inspiring, either.

Leave it to Hojoko to subvert that maxim with their Raba Raba. “Raba” means “mule” in Japanese, and this gin-based twist on the classic cocktail is kicked up with a house-made shiso syrup and an extra-spicy ginger beer.

That syrup, made with both mint and shiso (a leafy herb commonly used in Japanese cooking and sold in Asian grocery stores), gives the drink a spicy floral kick and its bright green hue.

Hojoko uses Maine Root Ginger Brew for its high-octane flavor, but any ginger beer can suffice—so long as it has plenty of spice. Citadelle Gin was selected as the drink’s base spirit because of its complimentary botanicals, but bar manager Seamus Caffrey encourages home bartenders to experiment with their spirit of choice.

“We love the herbal nature of gin and the way it plays so strongly with ginger, mint and shiso—but you can substitute it with a number of different spirits,” he says. “People are familiar with the Moscow Mule, but there are Kentucky Mules with bourbon, Mexican Mules with tequila, Oaxacan Mules with mezcal . . . Mules are pretty versatile.”

Raba Raba
2 ounces Citadelle Gin
½ ounce lime juice
½ ounce shiso syrup*
4 ounces ginger beer (Hojoko uses Maine Root Ginger Brew)
Shiso leaf, for garnish

Add gin, lime juice, and shiso syrup to a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled. Double strain into a Collins glass filled with large ice cubes and top with ginger beer. Add shiso leaf to garnish.

*Shiso Syrup (yields about 1 pint)
This syrup’s green color has a short shelf life; within three days it turns to a less-appetizing shade of brown. To preserve the hue, add a small amount of ascorbic acid before blending.

2 cups mint leaves, stems removed
1½ cups water, divided
1½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons shiso leaves
½ teaspoon ascorbic acid, for color preservation (optional; you can find it on Amazon)
Pinch of salt

Combine ¾ cups water, sugar, mint, and shiso (and ascorbic acid, if desired) in a blender and blend until herbs have broken down. Add mixture to a bowl and let sit for 10 minutes, then add remaining ¾ cups water and whisk until sugar has dissolved. Strain out herbs, add salt, and stir until salt has dissolved. Keeps about 1 week, refrigerated.

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