There was a pattern a couple of years back. I’d go into a cocktail bar, I’d sit at the bar (always my preferred choice of drinking spot) and often get chatting with the bartender as he or she made my drink.
And then a strange thing would happen: multiple times I would end up asking said person how he or she got into cocktail making (especially if the bar had a focus on whisky cocktails).
And repeatedly, they’d say they were trained by Zoran Peric, who taught them the art of a good whisky cocktail.
I met Zoran back in spring of 2012. Keen to learn more about Japanese whisky, I jumped at the opportunity to attend a Suntory tasting (which I wrote about here). And Zoran, the company’s brand ambassador, was the one doing the teaching.
Ever since, I’ve come to rely on his knowledge when it comes to Japanese cocktails. And, with London Cocktail Week getting underway next week, it seemed only appropriate that I sit down with him and find out what he recommends when it comes to making cocktails with this spirit.
I’ve put together a video on his favourite Japanese whisky cocktail. That can be seen here:
According to Zoran, there has been a real shift in the last couple of years in how many bars are stocking Japanese whisky.
“It’s a whole category rather than just a feature,” he told me.
This, of course, can only help increase their use down the line in cocktails. As more people see them on menus, and more bars feature them, more people will ask for them and more bartenders will become used to including them in their creations.
So what are his tips? In the video, Zoran talks about the Whisky Highball as a go-to favourite, but he adds it’s really about looking to the classic standbys for inspiration.
“For me, the best way to use Japanese whisky in cocktails is to put a twist on a classic – you can take a Rob Roy or a Whisky Sour or Old fashioned and add something different.
“The thing with Japanese whiskies is that they are all well balanced, they are all palatable – and people say to me: ‘I’m not a whisky drinker but I can drink that.’ And while I don’t approach whisky with the thought of how to convince people to drink it, I often find that when I offer them a taste and explain the aromas and flavours, I often see that they find they like it. And even if they do not like it in a cocktail, most people can see it is a good whisky.”
It’s hard to argue with that logic. And while it may not be to everyone’s taste, I am certainly in the camp that loves them.
For more information on London Cocktail Week, head to: www.londoncocktailweek.com
Learn more about Suntory’s range of Japanese whiskies here: www.suntory.com/whisky/en