Some cocktails were invented decades ago, but their popularity dipped, and now they have resurged. Maybe the pandemic is to blame because, during the lockdown order, it was never too early to drink. One of the many cocktails that have experienced a subtle comeback is the Midori Sour. You probably are wondering what kind of drink is Midori and why it has “sour” to its name. One sip of Midori Sour, and you will get a hint of melon flavor and sweet-sour taste. It has been in bars since the 1980s, but if you have never heard of it, here is your chance to learn all about it.
The Invention of Midori
The history of Midori Sour dates back to the 19th century when Shinjiro Torii was born. According to Suntory Whisky, Torii was born in 1879 but ended his education at 13. He became an apprentice at a pharmaceutical wholesaler based in Osaka. The wholesaler distributed Western liquors since that was the period when Western culture flowed into Japan. Torii learned the techniques of mixing and blending while also developing his palate and nose; no wonder he was later nicknamed the “Nose of Osaka.” Torii was a man with a vision of developing an original Japanese whisky. Thus, on February 1, 1899, he established Torii Shoten in Osaka. He began producing and selling grape wine. Since he was yet to make the whisky he had dreamed of, Torii continued pursuing his ambitions and, in 1923, constructed Yamazaki Distillery, the first malt whisky distillery in Japan. The distillery opened its doors in 1924, and in 1929, Suntory Shirofuda, the first genuine Japanese whisky, entered the market. The entrepreneur continued making alcoholic beverages, and in 1964 his company, Suntory, released Hermes Melon Liqueur. It was produced solely for the Japanese market. However, like other drinks that Torii had made, it soon found its way to the American market. According to The Spruce Eats, Hermes Melon Liqueur was introduced in the US in 1978 but under a different name – Midori. The launch occurred during a party for the crew and cast of “Saturday Night Fever” at New York Studio 54 nightclub. Suntory chose the brand name “Midori” because it is Japanese for “green,” the drink’s color.
Midori Sour Gets Its Name
As you can imagine, Midori Sour implies a sour version of Midori, and Advance Mixology describes Midori Sour as a sour cocktail made from Midori, soda, and citrus fruits. As the author of the article insists, you can go ahead to make a melon liqueur at home, but until you include Midori in the recipe, it is not Midori Sour. It was popular in the 1980s, soon after Midori was introduced in the United States, but as most sources cite, it fell out of favor with most cocktail lovers as other options were invented. The main reason for its sinking popularity was mixing the melon-flavored liqueur with citrus fruits and vodka.
It has, however, made a comeback and become one of the most popular Midori cocktails that bar patrons prefer. When mixed with real citrus fruits and without sugar or artificial sweeteners, it makes for a fruity refreshing drink. Recipes vary from bartender to bartender, but the staple ingredients are Midori, lime juice, lemon juice, and soda water; you can add vodka if you prefer. To make your Midori Sour, add an ounce of Midori, an ounce of vodka, ½ ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and ½ ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice to a serving glass with ice. Stir well, and then add soda water and garnish with a wheel or slice of lime. The vodka is optional, and so is using egg white for frothy foam topping, but with Midori Sour, simplicity is essential. You should also note that some recipes call for a sour mix, a bottled store-bought mixer made from equal parts lemon juice, lime juice, and simple syrup mixed thoroughly with ice. The downside of using a sour mix is that the drink is artificially sour and sweet hence the evolution to using fresh lemon and lime juice for a more authentic sour taste.
The Process of Creating Midori
Cocktails for You reveals that Midori is made from Yubari and musk melons, two types of melons sourced from Japan. Yubari melon is from Yubari City in Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan, while musk melons are from Aichi and Shizuoka provinces. Musk melons are very expensive in Japan because of their cultural value and the effort farmers exert to grow them. Yubari melons are also costly because they are usually grown in greenhouses, pollinated by hand, and cultivated by scissors. Therefore, it is no surprise they are regarded as priceless gifts that can go for as high as $200. In 2019, two of them fetched over $45,000 in an auction. Once harvested in July and July, the Yubari melons are used to make a pulp, which is then frozen, awaiting a purchase order from Suntory. When the frozen pulp gets to the Suntory factory, the bags are left on the floor to defrost. Later, a distillate and infusion are created. Infusing the pulp with an enzyme helps to break it down. Afterward, some sugar and neutral spirit is are added. The distillate is made from pulp, high-grade sort, and water. When the distillation and infusion processes are through, the resulting liquids are combined with a musk melon infusion. At this point, the ABV (alcohol by volume) is 59%, and the spirit has an orange hue from the melons’ pulp. It is shipped off to Mexico and France, and the ABV is reduced to about 20% by adding cane sugar and brandy. The process ends when the green color is added since it is not Midori until it has the unique green color.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith