The Wabi Sabi

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The Wabi Sabi. A spring cocktail to symbolize the transition from winter into spring that’s made with Nigori Sake and pickled cherry blossoms. As you drink it, the white “melts” away and a cherry blossom emerges from bottom. 

Springtime for Nomageddon!

Yes! It’s spring! Flowers are budding, people are out, and the birds and the bees are having sex with each other, or whatever that metaphor means. That also means we get to spend our days and evenings outside while sipping cocktails without a care in the world. Well, some cares. It is tax season. Ah well, sounds like you need a drink either way!

Here’s a recipe for a drink I’m calling The Wabi Sabi.

Ew. There’s Wasabi In It?

No. No. The Wabi Sabi! The name comes from the Japanese concept Wabi Sabi. In one interpretation, Wabi Sabi is a concept of the beauty in the impermanent. It’s that appreciation of beauty while still knowing that it’s a fleeting beauty. For example, that awe inspiring feeling you have for a brief 15 minutes while you watch the perfect sunset is Wabi Sabi. It’s that still peace you feel as you watch the snow fall and coat the world in a blanket of pure white before it gets all gross and dirty.

In Japan, Wabi Sabi is best represented in springtime Hanami Festivals when Japanese people flock to view the cherry blossoms bloom and then their petals fall.

Hanami Festival Ueno Park Tokyo
Hanami Festival Ueno Park Tojkyo, 2005 – Photo Via Wikipedia

You can read up more on Hanami Festivals and the concept of Wabi Sabi on these sites below:

Ohhh Wabi Sabi! Now I’m Getting It

So, I made this drink to symbolize the transition of winter to spring. A take on the Saketini, The Wabi Sabi is made with citron vodka, Nigori sake, and at the bottom of the glass sits a pickled cherry blossom (sakura).

What’s Nigori Sake?

Sake is rice wine. We all know that. However, there is a multitude of different types of sake and most variations of sake depend on either additives or the degree to which the grains of rice are polished. The rule of thumb is the more polished the rice than the finer the sake. However, that’s not always the case and there is even sake made from unpolished rice. That’s called Nigori Sake.

Nigori Sake

This is a bottle of nigori sake. Can you see at the bottom of the bottle there is a hard line and the contents of the bottle seem denser?  Well that’s because it is.  As I mentioned before, nigori sake is made of unpolished rice. That means that there are fine particulates from the rice in the drink itself, which gives it a rich, milky texture that’s really hard to demonstrate while it’s in this pink bottle.

Nigori Sake

Here’s a different bottle that I drank way before I made this cocktail. Yes, the bottle is frosted. Yes, that also makes it hard to tell what Nigori Sake looks like.

Nigori Sake

So, here it is being poured out! As you can see it has cloudy, milky appearance as opposed to sake which is clear.

Interesting, But Where Do I Get Pickled Cherry Blossoms? Also, What Are They?

Pickled sakura are preserved in salt and red plum vinegar. Relax, you’re not going to have to pickle them yourself. You can buy them at Japanese markets, Amazon, or – this is where I went –

Pickled Cherry Blossoms

This is a pickled sakura blossom. Pretty isn’t it? What you’re going to do is place one at the bottom of a martini glass.

Shake It. Shake. Shake It.

Now you make the drink. It’s a simple martini made with Nigori Sake and citron vodka. Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3rds of the way with ice. Add 2 1/2 ounces of citron vodka and 1 ounce of Nigori Sake and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into the glass with the pickled sakura in it and serve.  

When you drink the drink, the white will slowly disappear and a flower will emerge; symbolic of the snow melting and spring flowers blooming.

There you have it. The Wabi Sabi Cocktail.

Currently Jamming To:

This recipe requires a little something special.  Here’s a list of what you will need:

The Wabi Sabi

A spring cocktail to symbolize the transition from winter into spring. As you drink it, the white "melts" away and a cherry blossom emerges from bottom
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 2 minutes
Servings 1
Author Matthew Cetta


  • 1 Pickled Cherry Blossom sakura
  • 2 1/2 Ounces Citron Vodka
  • 1 Ounce Nigori Sake
  • Ice


  1. Place a pickled cherry blossom at the bottom of a martini glass.
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3rds of the way with ice. Pour in citron vodka and nigori sake and shake for 15 seconds.
  3. Strain into the martini glass with the cherry blossom.

Recipe Notes

You can make 3 at a time in one batch.

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9 comments on “The Wabi Sabi

  1. So funny that you mention wasabi, because that is exactly how I read it! This look so pretty! I bet it tastes good too!

    • I can see the confusion haha.

  2. Wow! This is absolutely gorgeous!! I bet it tastes incredible!

  3. What a beautiful cocktail for spring! I just love the symbolism behind it. 🙂

    • Thank you Carrie!

  4. Fantastic! This is really awesome! I love the story you told us!

  5. What a pretty drink! And I was relieved to know I wasn’t going to have to pickle those cherry blossoms myself. I like the easy way out.

  6. This is so pretty! Love this for Spring!

  7. I love both the sentiment and the look of this cocktail! I went to a sake brewery a couple of months ago and was fascinated by all of the different varieties and flavors of sake.

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