Last Friday’s Shochu Omakase at Sakamai was great fun. With the better half feeling a bit under the weather I headed off to this event by myself with the expectation of trying a new shochu and making it an early night. Having arrived at the event, I was greeted by the event planner for Sakamai, and then introduced to Jesse Falowitz, one of the managing partners for Mizu Shochu. He gave me a quick introduction to his brand and then placed me at the bar in front of Raphael Reyes, the mixologist responsible for the mixed drinks of the evening. The staff proactively tried to make sure that most guests were given the same round of introductions.
With Haamonii Shochu now discontinued and EvenStar not available in New York City, I was excited to try my first shochu with American roots. Jesse and his partner devised the product and have it produced by Munemasa Distillery in Arita Japan. It is their belief that one of the hindrances to shochu’s popularity in America is that shochu tends to be 40 to 50 proof and Americans prefer a stronger distilled beverage. Though shochu does tend to be a bit weaker than western liquor, I must say that shochu available in America tends to be even weaker than shochu in Japan. I’ve even noticed that the exact same product exported to America is more diluted.
Mizu Shochu is what is called a genshu shochu, this means that it is not diluted from cask strength when bottling. At 70 proof, it’s certainly stronger than most shochu available in America, and ranks right up there with Lees or Awamori I’ve had in Japan. What’s interesting is that Mizu shochu’s smooth flavor does not disclose its added proof straight away. It is surprisingly smooth for being almost 50% stronger than many other shochu available here. Though we will wait for a full review of the shochu for proper conditions, I will say that the smooth carmel nature of this shochu makes it satisfying on the rocks.
Besides Mizu Shochu on the rocks, the other three drinks were hand crafted by Raphael Reyes. Though the “Ginza Rose” was a bit too sweet for my tastes, the “Sunset in the Garden of Edo” and “Kyushu Belle” were both incredibly satisfying. The “Sunset” had a spicy tomato base that reminded me of a refreshing bloody mary and the “Kyushu Belle” had amazing bell pepper and pepper spice flavors that are not often present in a shochu based drink. In order to serve the large crowd present on Friday evening, some of the artisan drinks were mixed before the event started. I would have enjoyed seeing how all of these drinks went together.