The name of my drink is “Okiya,” (a Geisha house) and it was inspired by the ancient “Geisha” tradition in Japan.

The most literal translation of geisha into English would be “Entertainer” or “Artisan,” as Geisha are renowned artists. Wearing a traditional kimono, the Geisha embodies and embraces the long and rich history behind the artisan work they do. They take great pride in the perfection of their art and their beauty and skill in every movement during tea and flower arrangement ceremonies, and their expertise with traditional music and dance is legendary.

Such as it is with sake, which has been produced in Japan for about 1700 years. “Akashi-Tai Shiraume Ginjo Umeshu” is a luxurious plum liqueur made with Shiraume, or white flower plums, that is often made in Japanese households. The plums are preserved in the finest Ginjo sake, made from Yamadanishki rice. After being marinated for months, the fruits are removed from the tank, then Shiraume Ginjo Umeshu is left to age for two and a half years. Sweet with rich prune and almond flavors I found its dry finish to be a great base for my cocktail.

Okiya by Derrick Li

Okiya by Derrick Li


By Derrick Li


  • 1 1/2 oz. London Dry Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Akashi-Tai Shiraume Ginjo Umeshu (Plum Infused Sake)
  • 1/2 oz. Chamomile Infused Dry Vermouth*
  • 3/4 oz. acidic lemon syrup**
  • 1/4 oz. Fresh Ginger Juice
  • 4 drops Lacto-Fermented Tomato Juice***
  • Dry Seaweed and Pistachio Nut (for garnish)

Preparation: Add all ingredients to a shaker tin and hard shake about 8-10 seconds. Add ice and shake again, double straining into a coupe glass. Garnish with dry seaweed and pistachio nut. *Chamomile Infused Dry Vermouth: Infuse 2 1/2 oz. Cinzano Dry Vermouth with 3 grams Chamomile Flower for 2 days then it’s ready to use. 

**Acidic Lemon Syrup

  • 90 g lemon juice
  • 50 g sugar
  • 3 g tartaric acid
  • 3 g lactic acid powder
  • 1 g malic acid

Preparation:  Heat lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Remove and add the acids. Mix well then cool.

*Lacto-Fermented Tomato Juice

  • 100 g tomato
  • 2 g salt

Preparation: Cut tomatoes in halves. Add to a container with the salt and let sit about 7 days. Strain the juice and it’s ready to use.

Meet Derrick Li

CHILLED 100 Member, San Francisco

Derrick is a Chinese immigrant who came to the US in search of a better life. While taking classes at City College of San Francisco to learn and improve his English skills, he had the opportunity to enroll in the Bartending & Table Waiting class. It changed his life.

Quickly he developed a passion for bartending. After completing a 10-week training class, he was referred by his instructor to work at Benihana as a bartender. The rest is obvious. Today, he is the Bar Director at the Palette tea garden restaurant in San Mateo. When not behind the bar, he enjoys spending time with his family, teaching them about drawing, design and most importantly mixing.

Follow Derrick on Instagram at @ZHDerrickLi.

Derrick Li - CHILLED 100 Member, San Francisco

Derrick Li – CHILLED 100 Member, San Francisco