Last week, Aqua London’s Nico Peratinos showed us how to “calm our senses”, by imbibing a delightfully naughty little camomile-spliced number, inspired by Aqua’s own Hanging Gardens of Kyoto installation – in partnership with Tanqueray No. TEN and cut flower florists Rebel Rebel.

This week, he’s looking to enliven our spirits rather than soothe them, with the second instalment of his potent Japanese-themed cocktails, the misleadingly simply named Shiso Leaves. As you might expect from this mixologist-inventor extraordinaire, this is no two-ingredient fly-by-night blend.

Rather, it’s a complex and breathtakingly exotic twist on the classic Gimlet, a summery fusion of gin, fresh lime and a simple sugar syrup. The decidedly British cocktail, invented around the mid-19th century, was a favourite with tropical-bound sailors, keen to sup anything citrussy to ward off the dreaded scurvy. Its simplicity made it easy for the average Joe to make back home, and thus a classic was born.

Here, Peratinos ups the ante by fusing the feisty little beverage with the flavours of Japan, namely in the addition of shiso leaves, a mint-laced cooking herb found in Japanese cuisine which adds a – surprisingly delicious – fresh-cut grass aroma to the mix.

Drink something that tastes like grass? Have we lost our minds? Maybe. But we’re delighted about it, because the botanicals in the gin shine here like the luckiest of pennies.

“The earthiness in conjunction with the crispness make it the perfect transitional drink from summer to autumn,” agrees Peratinos of his heady blend. Nodding to the warmer seasons with its fruit cocktail of passion fruit and pear, while gently incorporating the warmer, earthy notes of autumn through the matcha green tea syrup, this cocktail might seem challenging, but actually, served long, over crushed ice, it’s a uniquely crisp, clear and refreshing glass.

Shiso Leaves Cocktail

Shiso Leaves (Serves 2)

Ingredients

4 shiso leaves
70ml Tanqueray No. TEN
40ml pear sake
20ml passion fruit syrup
50ml freshly squeezed lime juice
10ml matcha green tea syrup

To Serve

Crushed ice
Chilled highball glass
2 shiso leaves to serve

Shopping list

“Shiso leaves and Nashi No peak sake can be found at most reputable Japanese food stores. You can find matcha green tea syrup in most Japanese food stores, but if you struggle, try looking online. Opt for Giffard’s passion fruit syrup – it’s our favourite.”

Instructions

  1. To a cocktail shaker, add the shiso leaves, Tanqueray No. TEN, pear sake, passion fruit syrup, lime juice and matcha green tea syrup.
  2. Shake well, until all the ingredients are combined.
  3. Add the crushed ice to your glass, and using both hands, strain the drink through a Hawthorne strainer (held flush with the opening of the shaker) and a small fine sieve positioned over your glass.
  4. Add a shiso leaf to each glass and serve.

From Delicious To Stratospheric

“Add red amaranth as an extra garnish, to be sampled before the drink. It’s a micro-herb and can be bought at any Japanese food supplier.”