The Story Behind The Aka Ranger

From “The Japanese Art of the Cocktail," by esteemed bartender Masahiro Urushido and writer Michael Anstendig, the Aka Ranger celebrates shochu, Japan’s national spirit. It’s inspired by the Hot Toddy and incorporates jasmine mulled wine into the mixture for a subtly floral flavor. “Aka means ‘red’ in Japanese and reminds me of the autumn leaves in my hometown,” says Urushido. “By watching the Japanese animated ‘Five Rangers’ TV series that we all enjoyed growing up, the drink brings back a lot of countryside memories.”


  • 1 ounce Yamasemi Rice Shochu
  • ¼ ounce crème de cassis liqueur
  • ¼ ounce rich honey syrup (recipe above)
  • Hot jasmine mulled wine (recipe follows)
  • 1 dash Sangostura Bitters (recipe above)
  • Garnish: 1 star anise pod (optional)


  1. In a Japanese teacup, add shochu, crème de cassis liqueur, honey syrup, and bitters.
  2. Top with hot jasmine mulled wine.
  3. Garnish with a star anise pod.

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Updated: 2022-02-25

Hot Jasmine Mulled Wine Ingredients

  • 1 750-milliliter bottle semi-dry Riesling wine
  • 3 fresh Bosc pears, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup white port wine
  • 1 tablespoon jasmine pearl tea leaves
  • Zest of 1 lemon, cut into strips with a peeler or paring knife

Hot Jasmine Mulled Wine Directions

  1. In a saucepan, bring all ingredients, except the white port and jasmine tea, to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat.
  2. Cook for 15 minutes, then allow to cool.
  3. Strain through cheesecloth and add white port and jasmine tea leaves.
  4. Allow to steep for 3 minutes then strain into an airtight, non-reactive glass 1-quart container and store refrigerated for up to 1 month.
Aka Ranger from ‘The Japanese Art of the Cocktail’

Rich Honey Syrup


  • ⅔ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup water


  1. Add honey and water to a pot over medium-low heat, stirring until the honey is fully dissolved.
  2. Allow to cool, pour into an airtight, non-reactive glass 1-cup container, and store refrigerated for up to 2 months.

Sangostura Bitters


  • ¼ cup sansho peppercorns
  • 1 16-ounce bottle Angostura Bitters


  1. Combine peppercorns and bitters in an airtight, non-reactive glass 1-pint container and allow to steep for 48 hours.
  2. Strain into the original bottle, and store in the pantry for up to 6 months.