Our spotlight ingredients that transform Beverage Director Kira Webster’s cocktails created for St. Louis-based Japanese-Southeast Asian bar, indo, are Asian Elements like miso, sesame, yuzu, lemongrass, and green tea.
Talk to us about using these ingredients in cocktails.
I enjoy working with ingredients that bring me back to my childhood, such as miso, chamomile, sesame, and yuzu. I think it’s important to bring Asian elements to the forefront in the St. Louis cocktail scene. Using Asian ingredients allows me to put a little bit of myself into the cocktails and give people a better sense of my identity.
Tell us about mixing with Asian flavors/components in cocktails.
Using Asian ingredients is all about balance and variety. The flavors are robust, making them easier to control, and they play well with other flavors. I think Asian flavors are fun, and I enjoy creating cool twists on classic cocktails!
Give us 4-5 tips on incorporating exotic flavors into cocktails.
- Always rely on trial and error. If you aren’t familiar with certain ingredients, you will need to experiment.
- Give yourself enough time to experiment. Keep adding until you find your balance.
- Always taste the ingredients separately to get a better understanding of what you are working with.
- Sit with a flavor. Try to connect with all your senses and see what the flavor profile brings up. Lean into any emotions, memories, or associations that might help inspire you.
- Seek inspiration from and research how other countries are using flavors.
Tell us about the Genmaicha lollipop garnish- what inspired this. How do you make it?
I chose to incorporate a lollipop garnish to symbolize Japanese tea ceremony candies. Tea ceremonies are traditionally run by women, and the lollipop felt like a unique way to honor the generations of women who occupied such an important cultural position. The flower-shaped candy stems from one of the first memories of my own experience at a Japanese tea ceremony. The candies enhance the flavor of the tea, and the lollipop serves the same purpose in the cocktail. Slightly changing the flavor as the cocktail becomes more diluted.
I didn’t want anything too sweet, so I went with Genmaicha. Genmaicha tea is matcha mixed with roasted rice – it’s robust, slightly bitter, and savory. To create the lollipops, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan over medium heat and attach a candy thermometer; boil the water until the sugar dissolves. Next, carefully pour the syrup into lollipop molds and sprinkle Genmaicha tea on top. Let cool until completely hardened, then carefully pull lollipops from the molds, and use a bar knife to shape.
Tell us more about your Miso Chamomile-infused Gin
I particularly love using miso because it’s so versatile. It adds a savory note to the floral elements of the gin while creating depth from its natural umami flavors. The miso and chamomile balance well together while also enhancing the natural botanicals and spices in the Tea Trade cocktail.
Tell us more about your Sesame-Washed Creme de Cacao.
Sesame is another one of my favorite Asian ingredients. Sesame and red bean are frequently used in Asian desserts, so Creme de Cacao and sesame were a natural fit. In the past, I’ve washed Creme De Cacao with sesame oil for a twist on a Brandy Alexander, so I was confident the flavors would work well with Monkey Shoulder Scotch in The Mighty Hanuman cocktail. The flavors pair well together and work in a very interesting way.
- 1 1/2 oz. Chiyonosono “8000 Generations” Shochu
- 3/4 oz. Dumante Pistachio liqueur
- 1/2 oz. Dolin Blanc
- 1/4 oz. Nikka Coffey Gin
- 2 dashes Melon bitters
Preparation: Stir all ingredients with ice and strain up in a coupe. Garnish with *Genmaicha lollipop (optional).
(Yields about 36 lollipops)
- 2 cups Sugar
- ⅔ cup Light corn syrup
- 1.25 cups Water
- Genmaicha tea
Preparation: Fill lollipop molds with genmaicha tea and lollipop sticks (this can be done while waiting for the sugar to heat up). Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Attach candy thermometer. Increase heat to bring to a boil, stir until sugar dissolves. Boil until temp reaches 310 degrees F (hard crack). Pour syrup into the molds and sprinkle genmaicha tea on top. Let cool until completely hardened then carefully pull lollipops from the molds. Use a bar knife to shape the lollipops after they’ve hardened – make sure there aren’t any sharp edges.
- 1 3/4 oz. Monkey Shoulder Scotch
- 3/4 oz. Apple juice
- 1/2 oz. Sesame-washed Creme de cacao*
- 1/2 oz. J. Rieger Caffe Amaro
- 2 dashes Orange bitters
Preparation: Stir all ingredients and strain over ice in rocks glass. Garnish with Maraschino cherry with mushroom salt.
*SESAME-WASHED CREME DE CACAO
(Yields approximately 1 quart or 4 cups)
- 30 oz. Creme de cacao
- 3 3/4 oz. Sesame oil
- 15 orange peels
- 1 1/4 tsp. Salt
Preparation: Stir all ingredients together then freeze overnight. Strain through a fine mesh strainer after 24 hours.
- 3/4 oz. Miso-Chamomile Gin*
- 3/4 oz. Contratto Bitter Liqueur or Campari
- 1 1/4 oz. Dolin Blanc
- 1/4 oz. Emilio Lustau “Palo Cortado” sherry
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
- Dehydrated lemon peel or fresh lemon slice (optional)
Preparation: Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass and strain over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with dehydrated lemon wheel or fresh lemon wedge.
(Yields about 35 ounces)
- 35 oz. Hendricks gin
- 8 chamomile tea bags
- 7 1/2 teaspoons white miso
Preparation: Stir miso and gin together, add tea bags, and let sit for at least 4 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer.