Blog: Dassai Launch Party
Shrouded behind black paned glass on the first floor of an otherwise nondescript residential building, Wednesday evening provided a glimpse of some high end New York City sophistication. In celebration of its New York arrival, premium sake brand Dassai would host a chic launch party for a room of invited guests and tastemakers inside of the exclusivity of a particularly posh, members only dining club. Located on Spring Street, the sleek lounge space of Parlor would play host to a particularly memorable evening, replete with some mouthwatering hors d’oeuvres washed down by perhaps the smoothest styles of sake that we’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying.
The two hour affair kicked off promptly at 7pm, where some of the kimono clad guests awaiting entry outside were the only way of identifying the subtle entryway of the supremely classy venue. Once inside, Parlor proved to be a particularly spacious setting, with two bars and two kitchens filled with staff members hustling to appease the growing room of well dressed clientele. Bite sized servings of panko crusted fried chicken and assorted shumai style dumplings would barely make their way out of the kitchen before the outstretched arms of guests plucked them from each server’s trays- a testament to the high quality of the delicious food, rather than the desire to devour just about anything of substance.
Dassai itself is a luxury brand, retailing for nearly $1000 per bottle and marked up considerably at some of New York’s highest end sushi establishments. Fortunately for those of us lucky enough to attend Wednesday evening’s affair, we would have the opportunity to sample some of the brand’s varieties- though you’d be hard pressed to prefer one to another, as each of the sakes poured was exceptional in taste. The company is deeply rooted in Japanese tradition, with bottles crafted by skilled sake brewers seeking out the finest quality in both ingredients and production methods- and candidly, it shows.
We began with pours of the “Dassai 23 Junmai Daiginjo,” an unbelievably smooth, clear sake that on any other evening would likely have been the finest sake that we’ve ever sipped. Described as one of Japan’s most polished sakes, floral aromatic notes gave way to an incredibly clean taste- unsurprising given the fact that the sake is milled to a whopping 23%. Retailing at above $100 a bottle, the “Dassai 23” is an excellent introduction for relative sake novices, given its silky composition and subtle complements of flavor. Similarly tasty, the “Dassai 50 Junmai Daiginjo Nigori Sparkling” was an effervescent and delicious pour of bubbly with enough acidity to provide contrast to the other sakes being served. Crisp and refreshing, the bottle sells for just $30 and as such, is a well-priced and approachable entrée into the sake market, given the caliber of the Dassai brand.
As the evening progressed, guests gathered around Dassai CEO and Founder Hiroshi Sakuri who had flown in specifically to celebrate the brand’s first ever event in New York. Through a translator, Mr. Sakuri was sincere and appreciative as he welcomed the roomful of some 150 plus guests and briefly discussed the concept of Dassai’s super premium brand. After exchanging bows of respect with the Founder, it was time for the main event of the evening- “Dassai Junmai Daiginjo Beyond,” or quite frankly, the best sake that we’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. With a deliciously soft body, the utterly transcendent sake was again, remarkably clean despite being surrounded by a complex flavor profile and structure. Additionally, since its production is extremely limited, the “Beyond” simply has an indescribable aura of specialness to it, even though it was far too tasty to sip slowly.
It takes a special setting to launch a special brand, and Parlor was a fabulous selection to host Dassai’s New York launch party. Complemented by some delectable cuisine that paired quite nicely with the easy drinking sake, the entire evening would be an introduction to Dassai that managed to be both comfortable and classy. Although their price points are not necessarily befitting of casual sake drinkers, Dassai is a brand that is an absolute must try for those seeking an entry into the world of sake and for expert drinkers alike. And now, fortunately, we can enjoy all of Dassai’s exceptional qualities right here in New York.
- Dave Gendelson