Garnish Your Cocktail With Cherry Blossoms To Celebrate Spring

It would be impossible to embark on a springtime daydream without conjuring up an image of a cherry blossom tree. The delicate pink flower may be small, but its massive fanbase wraps around the globe. There's even an origami shape designed to look like sakura (the Japanese word for cherry blossom). Every year around late March, Japan holds a two-week-long sakura festival in honor of the flower to ring in Hanami, aka flower-viewing season. 

From the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to Kirschblütenfest in Hamburg, Germany, when spring has sprung, sakura fans all over the world are eager and ready — and the flower is as "pretty" as it is "pretty good to eat." Despite its name, the main tasting notes of cherry blossom are almond and floral; cherry is the secondary flavor. It makes for a beautiful ornamental cocktail garnish, but it also imparts a pleasant, delicate flavor that can instantly transition any drink into spring sipping.

You can purchase food-safe dried cherry blossom flowers online via retailers like Nihon Ichiban or Japan Cherry Blossoms. Alternately, take advantage of the springtime weather and forage for a basketful of fresh cherry blossoms that can be the finishing touch to your next libation. But, a garnish is far from the only way to make use of these in-season blooms in your back bar.

Flower power at cocktail hour

As with other fresh flowers, you can infuse cherry blossoms into pure ethanol liquors. Opt for clear, odorless spirits like vodka or mild gin that won't overpower their delicate flavor. Or you can turn those cherry blossoms into a quick homemade simple syrup. Per Difford's Guide, it'll keep in the fridge for two months. Homemade cherry blossom simple syrup would add a sweet touch to a dark floral Aviation or a tart vanilla-passionfruit Pornstar Martini. Garnish a peach Bellini or Tom Collins with fresh cherry blossoms for a spring-inspired presentation.

If "sweet" isn't your style, opt for traditional sakura. In Japanese culinary styles, cherry blossoms are salt-pickled and dried to preserve their flavor and color well beyond springtime. These salted blossoms can add an umami kick to non-sweet cocktails, like a pear-apple vodka tonic. Try swapping the olive or caper berry with salted cherry blossom in your next martini — or even whip up a full cherry blossom-inspired version with sake, gin, maraschino liqueur, and a sprinkle of salty sakura blooms.

For fans who want to rocket straight to the sakura overload zone, pair your fresh blooms with a cherry blossom-infused spirit. Bittercube makes vanilla bitters with cherry blossom tree bark, and Akori makes a killer cherry blossom-infused gin. And for luxury cocktail connoisseurs: Petal pink Mancino Vermouth Sakura is infused with Japanese cherry blossoms sourced from Kyoto, and it's limited-edition — as in, only 4,000 bottles are released each year.