Latin Twist: Sakerinha



Looking for a fun and seasonal drink for your summertime barbecues? Are you a strawberry and/or sake fan? Well, if you’re game for trying new fabulous flavor combos and a bit of Brazil, this Latin Twist cocktail is most certainly for you!

You’ve probably heard of Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha. Well, this one is, like the city of São Paulo, a Japan-infused variation. (By the way—Brazil is the largest home for Japanese people outside of Japan, and there’s plenty of delightful evidence of this in the form of food and drink in São Paulo!)

The first time I had the good fortune to visit São Paulo, I was doing teacher trainings, and publicizing my English as a second language  writing textbooks (Writing from Within 1 and 2).  Thanks to Cambridge University Press—and Elizabeth Fuzikava—I was also introduced to the wonderful world of Japanese-Brazilian cuisine. (Actually my daughter was traveling with me, and though she was way too young to drink at the time, she still fondly remembers the look of the drink—and my positive reaction!) So taken was I by this fusion of flavors, I subsequently wrote about the sakerinha (and more!) in my cocktail and appetizer book, Mambo Mixers, and have appreciated, enjoyed—and craved—this food and drink ever since!


There aren’t two many rules for creating this cocktail, but there are two keys:The strawberries should be fresh, the rice wine should be crisp and gentle. This perfect  strawberry-season drink, and best created with a sake like  Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo. Ah—don’t skip eating the sake-soaked strawberries!

Adapted from Mambo Mixers, ©2005, Arlen Gargagliano


Serves 2

8  strawberries, stemmed and sliced, plus 2 for garnish

1 to 2 teaspoons superfine sugar, or to taste

4 to 5 ounces sake

Ice cubes

Place the strawberries and sugar in a tall bar glass. Use a pestle or the end of a wooden spoon to mash the strawberries and sugar together. Add the sake and stir. Add ice, over, and shake. Pour into two glasses, garnish with the strawberries, and serve immediately.













About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

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