Umeshu Spritz · Whaling in Oklahoma

Credit: Brian Samuels
By Eric Twardzik · 03/22/2019

Spring is here—and with it, spritz season. We’ll never object to the old-fashioned Aperol version, but coming out of hibernation has us craving something with a little more oomph. That’s where the Umeshu Spritz from Whaling in Oklahoma comes in.

This spritz does indeed contain Aperol, but it’s split with an equal amount of umeshu, a Japanese plum wine made by steeping sour umefruit with sugar and alcohol. Umeshu is known for being sweet and tart, which makes it a challenge to use in cocktails if it’s not balanced by other ingredients.

“I wanted to use plum wine in a cocktail, but I knew it was sweet,” says beverage manager Colin Mason. “I was trying to temper it. So instead of making a passion fruit syrup we use a passion fruit concentrate, which really helps mellow the sweetness and gives it a kick of acidity.”

The finished cocktail is bright and fresh, with the familiar orange notes of Aperol and an effervescent pop thanks to a big top-off of cava. But the deep stone fruit flavors of umeshu add complexity to what’s otherwise a light and zippy affair.

At the South End brasserie, the drink comes in one of the many vintage highball glasses sourced by chef-owner Tim Maslow during a trip to Vermont. You don’t need to go full Antiques Roadshow at home—but having a few retro glasses around couldn’t hurt.

Umeshu Spritz
4 ounces cava

1 ounce Hakutsuru Plum Wine
1 ounce Aperol
¼ ounce passion fruit purée (such as The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley Passion Fruit Concentrate)
Orange slice, halved, for garnish

Combine plum wine, Aperol, and passion fruit purée in a highball glass. Top with cava and fill glass with ice. Garnish with orange slice and serve.

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