Blog: Sake and the City
What do you get when you mix sixteen of Japan’s finest producers of sake, food samples from a celebrity chef’s most buzzed about restaurant, and hundreds of excitable patrons? You get Tuesday evening’s “Sake and the City” event held at the spacious Astor Center. And for two and a half hours, guests could pace themselves around to each tasting table, taking time to speak with each of the purveyors, and hob nob a bit with each other, while sipping on some truly distinctive flavors of sake.
With tickets priced at just $30 ($21, if you were smart enough to use LocalBozo.com’s discount code), the event was among the most reasonably priced of any tasting in recent memory. As such, the event had sold out days beforehand, with minimal tickets being released here and there leading up to show time. The sheer amount of people in attendance made learning about each sake a bit more difficult, but it certainly didn’t detract us from being able to taste all that we wanted. Additionally, an entire side of the venue was reserved for an interactive Sake seminar being held alongside Award-winning mixologist Shingo Gokan (Angel’s Share, SakaMai), who was slinging some outstanding sake infused cocktails for the more non-traditional drinker.
Fortunately our distinguished palates were able to weed out some of the more delicious tastings from the rest of the pack so that you can keep them in mind the next time you decide to pony up for a bottle to pair with your next sushi dinner. We went wild for the bold taste profile of the “Junmai-daiginjo Nigori-sake,” an exceptional, unfiltered sparkling sake, as well as Junmai-Shu’s “Kitaya,” a high quality concoction with a very natural taste that lends itself to being served either hot or chilled. Also worthy of praise, the sweeter “Ai No Hime Beni,” another sparkling wine is served chilled, and ferments in the bottle. Red in color, we liken it to the ‘rose’ of sakes being served on this night. Finally, Midorikawa Sake Company’s ‘Midori-kawa’ was perhaps the most drinkable of any sake that we sipped upon. Considered a medium dry style, the subtle nose of the sake and almost revitalizing finish really stood out amongst a sea of delicious sakes.
With pours of sake filling the base of each wine glass or plastic shot glass, it quickly became evident that we appease our hunger with whatever we could find. Fortunately, “Sake and the City” was catered courtesy of Chef David Bouley’s Tribeca eatery, Brushstroke, with a staff doling out tasty bites of beef jerky and freshly prepared bamboo for some light noshing. Vegetable plates, breadsticks, and tasty ham sandwiches were quickly grabbed from nearby tables to satiate hungry tasters who avoided waiting any longer for the more refined food samples.
Regardless of a multitude of beer and wine events that parade through our fair city each week, informational and interactive events like “Sake and the City” continue to prove how little we truly know about the preparation and production that go into bringing each brand to fruition. The liquor itself has been a part of Japanese culture for more than 2,000 years and with so many different types of sake to learn about, Tuesday night’s event simply scratched the surface of understanding the distinctions in the category. But whether served warm or chilled, whether paired with a meal, or used as the base for a cocktail, “Sake and the City” taught us to stop asking questions, to raise our glass, and to simply say, “Kampai!”
- Jane Van Arsdale