What is Japanese Yuzu? A Yuzu Cocktail Recipe

Yuzu Cocktail Recipe from this fragrant Japanese Citrus | @whiteonrice

“What is yuzu?” Don’t feel bad if you have never heard of this beautiful little citrus, since outside of a few Asian cuisines and particularly in Japanese cultural circles it is seldom grown or used, however we’re here to tell you that yuzu is pure culinary gold.

Yuzu is a sour, tart and very fragrant citrus, slightly smaller than a billiard ball. Yuzu is a citrus that isn’t eaten straight, but is used as a souring ingredient through the use of it’s juice and zest.  The flavor is reminicent somewhere between a classic Eureka lemon and an oro blanco grapefruit, but still has its own unique fragrance and flavor.  It is a bit more floral and sour and utterly wonderful.  It smells so good the Japanese will use yuzu for perfumes and will ritualistically bath in yuzu during Toji (winter solstice).

Read all about yuzu citrus on our yuzu info page here.

Yuzu Cocktail Recipe from this fragrant Japanese Citrus | @whiteonrice

Diane had requested yuzu recipe ideas from readers and there were several fantastic ideas, however I already knew how I wanted to use our first born yuzu. A cocktail, of course. We kept the ingredients simple so the yuzu could be highlighted and not overwhelmed by the alcohol and since there isn’t much juice per yuzu, but the rind is so aromatic, we muddled a whole yuzu in order to get the most out of it.

The result: pure deliciousness.  There will be upcoming recipes featuring the yuzu, but for now we raise our glasses and toast to one of our favorite lumpy garden orbs: Yuzu!

More posts about Japanese Lemons: Yuzu & Kabosu:

What is Yuzu? Why is Yuzu so prized?
What is Kabosu? differences between Kabosu and Yuzu
Our Yuzu Sherbert Recipe
Our Yuzu Cocktail Recipe
Our Sauteed Peas with Yuzu Kosho Recipe

Yuzu Cocktail Recipe from this fragrant Japanese Citrus | @whiteonrice

5 from 1 vote
Yuzu Cocktail
Total Time
10 mins
Servings: 1 Cocktail
  • 1 whole Yuzu (or @ 1 1/2 Tablespoons yuzu juice)
  • 2 ounces (60ml) Gin (preferable Hendricks)
  • couple dashes Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 ounce (15ml) Simple Syrup, or to taste
  • dash of orange bitters
  • 2 ounces (60ml) club soda
  1. Slice yuzu in half and gently muddle just to release the oils and juice of the yuzu. Add the gin, vanilla extract, simple syrup, and bitters to the cocktail shaker. Add ice & shake for 15-20 seconds.
  2. Place ice into an old-fashion glass, strain the cocktail over the ice, top with club soda, and gently stir. Garnish if desired.
{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Huckleberry

    My favorite use of yuzu is with alcohol. The next would be as a salad dressing ingredient. However, one of the best uses not discussed on this page is in the bath. Sometimes Japanese onsen (hot spring resort type establishments) have special yuzu bath days. Also, yuzu ripen during cold season, and chucking some yuzu juice into a hot drink is often nice.

  2. Annapet

    Hello, again! I am researching yuzu for the garden, and my search led me back to your site. Replies to comments are also useful. Thanks!

  3. Diana

    Hello! I really like your yuzu picture (the second one shown in your blog) and would like to use it in a short Japanese food brochure for a fair. Would it be possible to use it?

  4. Steve Carlson

    Any tricks for getting a yuzu tree to flower? I’m in the SF bay area, and bought a yuzu tree last year. The fruit that was already on it ripened beautifully. But the tree has been very quiet since, with no budding activity. Should it have already flowered this year? Anything I can do to make it wake up? I’d love some more of those yuzu.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      We’ve had the same sort of problem. Lost of fruit one year, none the next. Going into our third year we are doubling up on a trick which a Japanese gardener taught us, to tightly tie some string around the branches to “choke” them a bit. It will cause a bit of stress on the plant and they will sometimes flower to put out some next of kin.
      That plus we are fertilizing more this year, being that citrus in general really like being fed a lot.
      Good luck.

    2. Steve Carlson

      My yuzu tree is now full of tiny yuzu babies, and shooting up another 12″ of growth. Could be a great year for yuzu. I love my yuzu tree. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. CitrusinSC

    I live in Orangeburg SC (named for the Duke of Orange, not the fruit) which is upper zone 8. I have two own-root Yuzu’s and one young, grafted onto trifoliate orange. I had more Yuzu’s this year than I knew what to do with. We make Yuzu cake, use the Yuzu’s in a vinaigrette, and I tried to make scallops in Yuzu, (Hotate Yuzu Kama-yaki) I had to follow lots of advice on how to make substitutes for mirin, but I found a Korean market in Columbia, SC that had white miso. My problem is the mixture was way too salty. The saltiness way overpowered the scallops. The fundamental problem was the miso, even diluted with mirin and sake. Any suggestions as to what’s the deal here?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      That’s awesome you’ve got the yuzu overflowing! We’ve never had Hotate Yuzu Kama-yaki before so aren’t really sure what the taste is supposed to be or how salty a well prepared dish is. One thing about miso is that is does vary quite a bit between makers. We checked out the recipe at Bento.com and they are using red miso which is usually even a bit saltier than white, so it may just be a saltier dish. A couple people who are way more knowledgeable than us about Japanese cuisine would be Harris at Japanese Food Report and Eric at The Breakaway Cook.
      Last night I was already craving some good Japanese cooking (spent the wee hours soaking in Japanese cookbooks) and now I am feeling like an addict going through withdrawals. Good luck on the scallops. If we discover any answers, we’ll make sure to pass them on.

      1. CitrusinSC

        I have some pictures of the Yuzu with fruit from a month or so ago, if you are interested.

  6. Britton

    In the Pacific Northwest, One Green World (onegreenworld.com) also carries Yuzu trees for only $24.95/tree. The variety is Ichandrin. Best of all, they are advertised as hardy in the Pacific Northwest–all the way to zone 7.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Britton- thank you for the great info! One Green World and four wind growers sound like amazing nurseries.

  7. Britton

    In the United States, one nursery that sells yuzu trees is

  8. Lori Lynn

    I am definitely making this cocktail. My yuzu tree is a year old, planted last October, the fruits are still small and green, maybe a few more months to go! YAY!

  9. SippitySup

    Wow, I picked this post randomly, because I am in a bit of a haze that you left a comment on my blog… I (of course) have loved you guys for years. When I heard you on Good Food I started a (successful) campaign to get myself on that show. Who knew Evan would talk to bloggers!

    I read and stalk here (and rarely comment) but your blog inspired me to start my own. I have a background in professional photography, but I have set limitations on my blog photos. These include ONLY using a 100 dollar point and shoot, never using additional lighting (only window light for me). I (try to) avoid a tripod, and I eat the food within seconds of shooting, so there are no re-shoots… It gets me punished by the TasteGawkers and the FoodBullies, but photos should tell a story. As yours do!

    Oh yeah… I like light that has color. No white balance for me!

    Anyway, my point is. It’s an honor to be nominated alongside you and (I swear) I voted for you for best photo. I don’t need to win! But I can’t promise how my hunky BF voted, nor my “legions” of fans. GREG

  10. 3hungrytummies

    unfortunately we are not able to get fresh yuzu in melbourne 🙁

  11. Eric Gower

    Imagine my delight when the mailman delivered a box of FRESH YUZU today!! Unbelievable act of generosity from Diane and Todd — domo arigatou gozaimasu!! Will report back all experiment results. Thank you thank you thank you!

  12. Christie @ Fig&Cherry

    That’s why I love flying Japan Airlines – for Yuzu juice! 🙂

    The leaves look like kaffir lime leaves (my fav!) – do they have a beautiful taste as well?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      The leaves have some fragrance, but nothing like the kaffir. We haven’t tried using the leaves yet in the kitchen, but if anyone has and liked what came of it, we’d love to hear about it.

  13. Nicole Spasiano

    I love ponzu! I had no idea what was in there but I often get some sticky rice and pour ponzu over it instead of soy sauce. I love that flavor.

    I’ll have to see if I can get a plant in the northeast!

  14. Julia

    The best I can find in Boston is bottled yuzu juice. I usually just make a blend of lemon and lime as a substitute. I continue to be jealous of your garden and that cocktail looks exceedingly refreshing!

  15. Tokyo Terrace

    I love this! I made a cocktail with Calamansi and posted it today- AND tomorrow I have a yuzu cocktail post coming up for Cocktail Friday! The flavor of each of these citrus fruits is just too perfect in a cocktail. Beautiful photos as always! –Rachael

    1. White on Rice Couple

      We checked out your cocktails. They look fantastic. Another drink for us!

  16. Murasaki Shikibu

    Funny…I just suggested someone living in Japan use Yuzu to make their salad dressing this morning. Lemons are almost all imported there except for the hard green ones you can find sometimes, so I always did prefer to use Yuzu, Sudachi, Kabosu, etc. 🙂

    1. White on Rice Couple

      You guided them well! When we were just in Japan we tried the sudachi & kobosu for the first time and they were wonderful, too. We haven’t even seen them here in the US. Japan may not get great lemons, but their own citrus are fantastic!

      1. RachelB

        Hamada Farms, a vendor at one of the San Francisco farmers’ markets, has been bringing Sudachi lemons to market for a couple of weeks now if you’re looking for a source in the states.

Leave a Reply