Yuzu Maple Leaf Cocktail Recipe

Winter citrus juice + bourbon + a bit of maple syrup, chilled, and served a tiny glass, is good.

Yuzu Maple Leaf Cocktail

This is a drink to close out the year with - simple, strong, made for winter. It's a maple leaf cocktail (typically made with fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, and bourbon) with a few tweaks. I've been making them with whatever lemony-winter citrus is around. After starting with standard Eureka lemons, I branched out to Meyer lemons, and then onto yuzu, a varietal of Japanese citrus. Recently, I've been blending - the yuzu is intense, fat with seeds, on the dry side, while Meyers are more floral, with a softer flavor, positively gushing with juice.

Yuzu Maple Leaf CocktailYuzu Maple Leaf Cocktail

I add salt to this drink. I mean, the absolute smallest amount of fine grain sea salt. Barely a whisper. It works nicely to balance things out, snap flavors into focus - sweet, sour, salt, bourbon base. Not sure how people are going to feel about that, but there you have it, a little secret. If you want to be more exacting than I am, grind your salt powder-fine with a mortar and pestle before proceeding. It'll incorporate more quickly into the liquids.

I hope you like this as much as I do. In general, I like the combination of lemon and maple syrup. And not just in cocktails. But, I need something to edge out the sweet depths of pure maple. Lemon, or other lemony-citrus, tends to do the job. In fact, if drinks aren't your thing, I bet you could skip the bourbon altogether here and work this into a nice dressing with the zest, some herbs, and olive oil?

Yuzu Maple Leaf CocktailYuzu Maple Leaf Cocktail

A couple tips (I'll also include below): You can find yuzu at some winter farmers markets. They're also available at many Japanese grocery stores in the produce section, and they keep reasonably well refrigerated. Also, if you don't have a cocktail shaker, don't let that deter you. I don't have one, and I use a jar in it's place - use the lid to hold the ice back (you can also use a strainer). xoxo -h

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Yuzu Maple Leaf Cocktail

It goes without saying, but cocktails should be mixed to your liking. Feel free to make tweaks the same way you would with any other culinary creation. You might like these a touch more tart than I do, or a hint less sweet. Go for it. If you can't find yuzu or Meyer lemons, absolutely have a go with regular market lemons.

As I mention up above, you can find yuzu at some winter farmers' markets. They're also available at many Japanese grocery stores in the produce section, and keep nicely, wrapped and refrigerated. Also, if you don't have a cocktail shaker, don't let that deter you. I just use a jar in it's place, using the lid to hold the ice back (you can also use a strainer).

2 ounces / 1/4 cup bourbon (I used Michter's)
3/4 ounce / 1 1/2 tablespoon good maple syrup
1/2 ounce / 1 tablespoon well-strained, fresh yuzu juice
1/2 ounce / 1 tablespoon well-strained, fresh Meyer lemon juice
extra small pinch of fine grain sea salt

Chill a few small cocktail or cordial glasses in the freezer. I typically use ones that are larger than shot glasses, but not quite by double.

Combine the bourbon, maple syrup, citrus juices, and salt in a cocktail shaker or jar (with lid). Fill with ice, cover, and shake vigorously - well enough that that maple syrup gets well incorporated. It's heavier than the other liquids and likes to hug the bottom of the shaker, you also want to give the salt time to dissolve.

Strain into the chilled glasses and serve immediately.

Makes 2-3 small drinks, or one larger cocktail.

Prep time: 2 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I've never come across a bourbon drink that I like, but with all that citrus and maple in there I reckon this would be lovely! Happy New Years to you Heidi xx

Emma Galloway

This looks good. I can't get yuzu out here but can get meyer lemons. What kind of bourbon do you like to use? Hannah, I think thyme sounds good, what do you think of sage in there? Thanks for the good post and have a Happy New Year!

Fork and Whisk

I always think of orange with maple, but we love lemons and our meyer tree is always producing more than we know what to do with. Perhaps on NYE this will be in the mix. I'm also super intrigued by the salad dressing idea ... I'm not totally sure what herbs would pair well. Chives? Lemon thyme? Hm.


I am so jealous of your lemon selection in California- so much harder to find different citrus varieties in Canada!! That said, I have also always added some salt to my citrus drinks- it does just give it a little extra something :)


This looks fantastic! My dad uses a pinch of salt in sweet lassis (sugar, saffron, pistachio/cardamom powder) and it makes them over the top delicious. Looking forward to trying this on a winter evening. Thanks Heidi!


Never had yuzu in a cocktail, great idea for new year's eve, thank you !


My mouth watered just reading this!

Tricia Rose

This sounds completely delightful -- I'm always looking for ways to introduce my Dutch friends here to flavors from my homeland, and this might just be the ticket!

Valerie {all mussed up}

I do this with 3/4 ounce of lemon juice (and no yuzu -- never even heard of it out here in the Midwest!) and use Canadian whiskey (meant to go with maple syrup) and top it off with a cinnamon stick twizzler. The cinnamon stick really makes a difference.


How divine. Maple is abundant here in Michigan, and this puts it to exceptional use. Happy New Year!

Maureen Abood

What grade of maple syrup did you use?

HS: Hi Anna - In general, I always use grade B, unless I can get my hands on the Remonte-Pente 70 brix (which I now tend to keep a couple bottles in reserve).


Relatives gifted us a bunch of maple syrup and bourbon so we've been enjoying a really similar version of this over the holidays too. Ours have been hot toddy-style to help us face the mountains of snow with some warmth and fortitude :). Happy new year to you!


The flavors in here sound AWESOME, and I love the pinch of salt to balance everything out.

Little Kitchie

Love yuzu, its unique flavour really sets it apart from other citrus fruits. What a gloriously refreshing cocktail.

leaf (the indolent cook)

I need something strong after Christmas ;) It could be a nice beginning of a NYE. Addition of a maple syrup sounds very interesting.

Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

I don't think I've ever had yuzu. I'm intrigued...I definitely need to know more about it!


This looks great! Im a big fan of a citrusy cocktail


Looks like a wonderful cocktail to bring in the New Year. Maple Syrup and lemon are a winning combination all round. :)


I don't think I've ever had yuzu! But with the meyer lemons and bourbon and maple, this drink is destined for success!

Averie @ Averie Cooks

Love this cocktail - fantastic flavors! :)


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