Cheers to Umami!

The Art of Making Japanese Mushroom Bourbon

By Robin Jay

Mixologist Jared Boller at Kuro

Mixologist Jared Boller at Kuro

Ooh-baby, you’re going to love the ‘Umami’ taste of Jared Boller’s head-turning Hachi cocktail at Kuro in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. It’s made with – get this – mushroom bourbon! Seriously, the Hachi, made with four-mushroom bourbon, mirin (a sweet rice wine used in Japanese kitchens), black pepper syrup and  lemon juice, is without doubt my new favorite bar room mélange.

What is Umami?
If you’ve never heard the term ‘umami’, you’re not alone. I discovered it on a whim when my husband and I stopped into Kuro to check out the innovative Japanese craft kitchen after a concert. Jared, the ever-aware New-York-trained mixology professional, noticed my eyebrow raise in puzzlement when I saw the ‘umami’ category on his drink menu. He
politely stopped over to explain, “Umami means ‘savory.’ It’s one of the five basic flavor palates besides sweet, sour, salty and bitter.”

A Picasso of cocktails, Jared cleverly uses these five taste categories on his out-of-the-box cocktail menu (and he names each of them with a Japanese number) to help guests choose drinks suited best to their personal palates. Being a mushroom and truffle fan, I just had to try the Hachi.

Pow! The Hachi was so uniquely delicious that even my husband pushed aside his off-menu foo-foo drink and ordered one for himself. Who knew mushroom bourbon
existed, let alone tasted so darn good?!

“Mushrooms and bourbon make a harmonious marriage,” said Jared with a smile. “It’s the perfect blend of wheat and corn in the bourbon that pairs so well with mushrooms. When I created the drink, I thought ‘If the pairing makes sense in a food recipe, why not pair the two in a cocktail?’”

I was so impressed with this idea of ‘mushroom bourbon’ that I asked Jared if I could see the bottle label. His reply surprised me: “No.”
“What? Why not?”

“Because there is no label…I make the mushroom bourbon myself in the Kuro kitchen.”

Cool! I knew right away I had to share Jared’s mushroom bourbon story in South Florida Opulence. Even if you make it at home, I highly recommend you stop into Kuro
to try the real McCoy. It’s Kuro’s best-selling cocktail!



STEP 1 Chop all of the mushrooms into large pieces.


STEP 2 Over medium heat, begin to heat up grapeseed oil in the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is heated, add all of your mushrooms. Gently stir the mushrooms for 5-10 minutes and break them down until they are lucid and brown.


STEP 3 In a large sealable plastic container, add the bottle of bourbon and cooked mushrooms. Cover the mushrooms/bourbon and let sit for 48 hours (tip: the longer they stay, the better the bourbon tastes!) Through a chinois strainer, you can pour the bourbon back into the bottle for storage in the refrigerator.



By mixologist Jared Boller at kuro

glassYields 1 cocktail
¼ oz. Mirin (a sweet rice wine used in Japanese kitchens)
¾ oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
¾ oz. Black Pepper Syrup (recipe below)
2 oz. 4 Mushroom-infused Buffalo Trace Bourbon
(3-step recipe above)

• Using a jigger, pour the ingredients in their proper amounts into a cocktail shaker in the following order: fresh lemon juice, mirin, black pepper syrup and mushroom-infused bourbon.
• Once all ingredients are combined into cocktail shaker, add ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
• Fine strain the shaker mixture with a mini strainer (e.g., chinois strainer) over fresh ice.
• Garnish with lemon twist and dry shitake mushroom and enjoy!
Japanese 4 Mushroom Bourbon

½ cup Shitake mushrooms
¼ cup Portabella mushrooms
¼ cup Oyster mushrooms
¼ cup Maitake mushrooms
1 tbsp. Grapeseed oil
1 bottle Buffalo Trace Bourbon

See Step Photos
Black Pepper Syrup
1 qt. Sugar
1 qt. Water
1 cup Black Pepper
Simmer ingredients over low heat
for 30 minutes. Fine-strain cooked
mixture for cleaner fuel.

Cheers to Umami!