By Warren Bobrow
Hiro Sake is a gorgeous slurp of Japanese Sake history that you can enjoy today. Traditionally, Sake is produced in a method very similar to the manufacture of beer, but it takes a turn in another direction during the brewing process. The three ingredients of Sake are rice, water and koji mold. The rice is polished through a rigorous process that exposes the soft inner core of the grain. This polishing focuses the intense flavors that have been converted to sugar from starch.
Hiro Sake is versatile with food as well as on its own. I prefer Sake with food, lightly chilled and served either in a wooden vessel or fine crystal. Sake should NEVER be microwaved, as it destroys the delicate flavor balance. However, if you want warm Sake, it should be heated gently to no more than 140 degrees.
The first time I tasted Sake, it was indeed served hot. I cannot guarantee from my memory the quality of the Sake. I'm sure it was not like the quality of the Hiro product. I was in California, about 15 years of age. The Sake came served in the traditional manner, a small Sake cup made of pottery and a pottery vessel. The liquid elixir was heated to an impossibly high heat. Whatever was in the vessel scalded my fingers and my tongue. This burning sensation will forever stick in my memory because the subtlety of the Sake was lost when it was boiled. Everything from that point forward is a blur and anyone who has over indulged on Sake will tell you that they've had a similar experience with Sake. If the day is cold and the Sake is hot, watch out!
Later in my youth I tasted a most beguiling combination of flavors - Sake served chilled on the rocks with the addition of plum wine. Sake and plum wine for me is the veritable mind eraser. There is no doubt that my college years were clouded by this drink. A bit sweet to the slight bitter flavor from the Sake - served over ice in a tall glass. You could say that after a couple of these drinks your mouth starts speaking perfect Japanese. Then again you could say you don't remember a thing. Not necessarily bad.
Hiro Sake Red (Junmai) is traditionally brewed to be served hot, while Hiro Sake Blue (Junmai Ginjo) should be served chilled, on the rocks, or with your favorite liquor. I actually prefer the more robust flavors of the Red in my cocktails. It seems to play well with others even if the Red is not heated. One of these cocktails for the Red is called simply, Crane Over Koi Pond.
Crane Over Koi Pond
Ingredients to make two extremely powerful, yet balanced-short drinks:
Hiro Red Sake
Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water (pink grapefruit essence)
Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
-(Prepare to have your mind erased…)
-Add to a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with ice
-Add 4 oz. Hiro Red Sake
-Add 2 oz. Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur
-Add four-five shakes of Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
-Shake Shake Shake Shake
-Pour over a large cube of hand cut ice and top with the Perrier Sparkling Water to finish
-Contemplate the Crane gazing hungrily at your very expensive fish in the Koi pond.
Cheers from DrinkUpNY!
Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.