Kanpai! As one Japanese company man says to another after a long days work. But what are they drinking that cause such joy for their demure. I inquire and one says “Nihonshu!”
As I sit there in silence wondering about what he’s talking about and how do I find out more about the beverage he is so thoroughly enjoying I decide to order the exact same thing he’s having. However, to my surprise, there are lots of ways to drink said drink.
The bartender, a pretty little girl with black and pink hair done up with two pigtails, asks me if I want it straight, on the stones, or hot. When she says sexy it perked my interests and thought to myself, “I believe this could be interest”, so I asked her when it’s fascination and she said something humorous I won’t ever forget, “everything in this pub is interest”, I laugh a bit. I guess I must have looked confused because she then went on to explain that the term for alcohol is interest and she was just joking around with me to see when I caught on, I just laugh a bit.
As we begin to talk I start to understand all the intricacies of what sake is, or what it’s actually called, Nihonshu. She began to explain to me that there are lots of kinds/grades of Nihonshu.
1. Kunshu (Fragrant Sake) It’s known as “Ginjoshu”, also contains a floral and fruity fragrance and a very clear and brisk flavour. Ginshoshu that is polished down to 50 percent or less is known as “Dai-ginjoshu” (or just “Daiginjo”).
2. Soshu (Fresh Sake) Sake that’s not heated for pasteurisation for example “Namazake” and “Honjozoshu”, and occasionally “Junmaishu” is included, and has a fruity odor and a refreshing and clear flavour.
3. Junshu (Actual Sake) “Junmaishu” is included in this class and made solely from white rice, rice koji, and water. It has wide assortment of flavour from moderate to wealthy body that lasts long time.
4. Jukushu (Mature Sake) “Jukushu” means aged sake, and has a deep flavour combined with the sweet, sour and sour taste and an abundance of fragrance.
So as I sat there listening to this woman talk about Sake in such a way that can only really be understood if you happen to be drinking Sake for quite a long time. So once you meet a person like her, you begin to believe differently about the beverage you will soon be drinking.
I begin to appear around the bar and revel in the atmosphere of all of the great times folks are having. But then I realised I was so engaged by this woman demonstrating so much enthusiasm for Sake I did not order my drink yet.