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From the Cocktail Whisperer: Brilliant Sake with a twist

Hiro Junmai & Ginjo Sake Photo: Warren Bobrow

I love Sake.  From the moment the liquid caresses the tip of my tongue to the way it slides effortlessly down my throat, Sake is my go/to for flavor.  Sake is a most versatile intoxicant.  No longer does the drinker need to tuck into a plate of Sashimi to enjoy the beguiling aromatics of Sake.

As beer is delicious with most cuisines, so is Sake.  Maybe even more so!

The production of Sake is very similar to that of beer!  From a flavor perspective there are dozens of different styles of Sake, from crystal clear to thick and milky.  There is certainly a Sake to fit your thirst and your pocketbook.

Inspired by the ancient recipe of Hiroemon Takeda, the renowned Samurai and Japanese Sake connoisseur, Hiro is crafted by a Toji (Master Brewer) using only specially polished rice from the Murakami Plain in the Niigata Region.

Hiro Sake comes in two varieties.  Blue- meant to be drunk chilled and the red, meant to be gently heated.  But don’t think for a minute that heated means microwaving the Sake.  First of all if you have been microwaving your Sake to heat it, just stop.  The best way in my opinion, to heat Sake- is by gently raising the temperature of the distillate by using a double boiler.  A double boiler in this case is a pot of simmering water with a glass bowl over the top.  Open your bottle of Hiro Red (or the fine Sake of your choice) and pour a measure into the glass bowl.  Very gently heat the precious liquid until the temperature is no more than 140 degrees.

You don’t want to scald your taste buds.

How many times have you gone to a Japanese restaurant with a pretty good Sake in your hands, only to have it microwaved into submission?  Has that first sip gone right to your head?  Did it burn your tongue?  Sake will taste flat and listless if you boil it.   And if you are using high quality Sake and you boil it… Well this action will awake the Samurai and if you’ve seen Kill Bill, trust me.  Don’t kid yourself .

If this makes sense to you, start your journey into Sake by chilling your Sake.

I love chilled Sake and the Hiro Blue is no exception to my passion for refreshment.  The flavors inherent to this style (Junmai Ginjo) are creamy, lush and sensual.  This is Sake for your finest crystal wine glasses.  In fact I recommend either drinking your cool Sake from a wooden vessel or crystal.  I only use pottery glasses for heated Sake.

Junmai Ginjo is made from rice.  A very specific rice from a unique Terroir.   Rice is grown with ancient methods.  Similar to the way grapes are grown for wine, there are subtleties in the Terroir of rice.  Japanese culture is dependent on the exemplification of rice as a social metaphor.  Great Sake like Hiro makes its way into this culture through its unique Terroir.

Wine snobs may scoff at this and to this I say… Try it.

Junmai Ginjo-shu

Junmai Ginjo-shu

Brewed with labor-intensive steps, eschewing machinery for traditional tools and methods, using highly polished rice (at least 60%**) and fermented at colder temperatures for longer periods of time. Light, fruity, refined.

Thanks to http://www.sake-world.com/html/types-of-sake.html for the use of your informative chart.

There is a magical sense of clarity that you realize upon drinking truly great Sake.  Hiro in the Junmai Ginjo format is just marvelous with food.  I took a rocks glass hand crafted of heavy crystal, rubbed the inside of the glass with a European cucumber. (no seeds) Then I poured some Hendrick’s Gin inside and lazily rolled the glass around, coating the cucumber scented glass and entering cocktail immortality. The cucumber essence along with the Hendrick’s Gin- with the added Hiro Sake?  Watch out!

A cube of ice  with a slice of cucumber frozen inside enters the glass.  Large, crystalline in nature.  But how do you get ice so very clear?

The Mavea “Inspired Water” Pitcher  does this task with ease and grace.  Just filter your water, slice a piece of cucumber, submerge it in an ice cube tray 2×2 size and place into your crystal glass.  Chilled Hiro Junmai Ginjo Sake is poured over the top.

East Meets West - Photo: Warren Bobrow

Don’t drink too many on an empty stomach!

Danger Level 5 out of 5!  I know.

The Kill Bill Cocktail

Ingredients:

Hiro Junmai Ginjo Sake

Hendrick’s Gin

Cucumber Ice made from your Mavea “Inspired Water” Pitcher

Bitter End Thai Bitters

Preparation:

Rub the inside of a crystal cocktail glass (rocks glass) with a chunk of a European Cuke

Pour about 1/2 shot of Hendrick’s Gin into the glass and roll around to coat the sides

You’ve already frozen your ice with a slice of cucumber inside, so place this in the glass

Pour 3-4 oz. of the Hiro Junmai Ginjo Sake over the top of your cucumber ice cube

Finish with exactly two drops of the Bitter End Thai Bitters (spicy!!)

Sip very carefully and eat some perfectly seared Florida Reds with scattered wild mushrooms.  The soft nose of this Sake will raise the bar for flavor combinations.

 

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