Sake: Japanese rice wine
When mentioning sake in the west, people often think of it as that fun rice wine that they have with sushi. However, sake has been gaining popularity as a flavorful sipping alcohol that can be enjoyed with many different foods. Bartenders and mixologists are incorporating sake into new cocktails and there are even sake festivals being held across the U.S. Craft sake distilleries are also adding to the American small business landscape.
Sake is a Japanese rice wine that is fermented and stripped of the bran. Although sake is considered rice wine, it is actually made a bit like beer, in that when brewing beer starch is made into sugar instead of fermenting sugar already existing in grapes like you would with wine. When making beer, starch is converted into sugar and that sugar then becomes alcohol in two steps. However, when making sake, both of these things happen simultaneously.
Sake also carries a more powerful punch than either wine or beer. Wine typically has between 9 and 16 percent ABV, most beer has 3 to 9 percent, and undiluted sake comes in at 18 to 20 percent. Although, most sake is diluted before bottling so the resulting ABV is around 15 percent.
Like flavored vodka, flavored sake has also been a big hit. There are many flavors on the market now, with the most popular being Fuji apple and lychee fruit. Sake is a new experience for many people, and it is one that should be savored. Start easy with a few simple sake cocktail recipes.
2 sprigs of mint (plus one for garnish)
½ tsp. fresh, finely grated ginger
2 oz. chilled sake
2 oz. pear nectar (like Goya)
Serving: One drink
Mash two sprigs of mint and the ginger at the bottom of a chilled rocks glass, and fill the remainder of the glass with ice. Add the chilled sake and pear nectar, and stir well. Pour and serve immediately with the remaining mint sprig as garnish.
6 sprigs of fresh mint (plus one for garnish)
1 tsp. granulated sugar
½ a lime cut into small pieces
5 oz. sake
1 oz. club soda
In a shaker or rocks glass, combine six sprigs of mint, the sugar, and lime and crush them. Add the sake and shake well. Strain the liquid out of shaker (or makeshift shaker with glasses) and into a glass filled with ice. Top it off with the club soda and remaining sprig of mint as garnish.