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Sakura Spritz

Springtime in Washington, DC, in a glass.

Tidal Basin, WDC. Photo: Sarah Rosner

The White House, Washington

April 7, 1909

Thank you very much for your suggestion about the cherry trees. I have taken the matter up and am promised the trees, but I thought perhaps it would be best to make an avenue of them, extending down to the turn in the road, as the other part is still too rough to do any planting. Of course, they could not reflect in the water, but the effect would be very lovely of the long avenue. Let me know what you think about this.

Sincerely yours,

Helen H. Taft

Info: Spring in Washington, DC is all about the Cherry Blossoms. In 1912, over 3,000 flowering cherry trees, or “Sakura” were given “as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan.” Researching this I learned that “in a gesture of gratitude for the cherry trees, in 1915 President Taft sent a gift of flowering dogwood trees to the people of Japan.” DC, my neighborhood (Dupont) especially, presents a solid Dogwood game as well. The biggest hurtle to enjoying the blossoms is the amount of study/gamble/shear luck it takes to plan a trip that catches those unpredictable and illusive 3-5 days of peak bloom, or any blooms. My mother is yet to experience the blossoms, as she has miscalculated three separate trips. Unlike most Washingtonians, I have not missed at least one short visit to the Tidal Basin in the 20 Springs I have spent in the District. I am never disappointed. Until I see someone shake a branch, then I shake my fist while muttering, hopefully quietly.

Sakura Spritz

The Sakura Spritz is my serenade to Spring in Washington, DC. Suntory’s Roku Gin is the base spirit for many reasons. Roku means 6 in Japanese: representing the 6 main “botanicals cultivated over four seasons” in this citrus forward gin (Spring: Sakura Flowers and leaves/Summer: Sencha and Gyokuro teas/Fall: Sansho pepper/Winter: Yuzu peels. Plus juniper berries, coriander, angelica seed and root, cinnamon, cardamom, bitter orange and lemon peel). The cocktail is sweetened with local raw honey, balanced with Yuzu (a Japanese Citrus), tarted up with a local Virginia cherry blossom vinegar (I will call it shrub on a menu. Vinegar still reads too harsh to the American pallet) from Lindera Farms, and brightened with cold soda water.

Glass: Chilled G&T or large wine glass

Garnish: long lemon peel, cherry blossoms


  • 75 oz raw honey syrup (1:1)
  • .5 oz Lindera Farms Cherry Blossom Vinegar
  • .5 oz Yuzu juice
  • 2 oz Roku Gin
  • Top with cold soda water

Build: Lightly shake everything except soda water, strain into cold glass over ice, top with soda, lightly swizzle, garnish and serve.