By Jan Walsh Photography by Beau Gustafson
I want to learn more about sake. And I believe in learning by doing. So tonight Bamboo On 2nd’s Bernie Smith meets me to taste through a rosé sake, a sparkling sake, and a sake cocktail. He also introduces me to a Japanese whiskey. And we start the Bamboo beverage tasting with a wine that I need no introduction to, Champagne.
Too many restaurants serve Champagne in cheap, thick flutes because fine flutes break easily. And I can understand the economics of this for lesser sparkling wines. But if I am paying for real Champagne I expect proper stemware. Bamboo On 2nd serves Champagne Veuve Cliquot “Yellow Label” Brut NV by the glass and by the bottle. It arrives perfectly chilled in a tall flute with a thin and delicate rim and long stem. The vessel boasts the beauty of this elegant wine, as its effervescence rises to the top of the glass from the center, forming a delicate mousse.
Next, we taste a sparkling sake, Shirakabe Gura Mio Sparkling. In Japanese, mio refers to the stream of white foam that trails behind cruise ships. We sip this sweet, refreshing sake from black sake glasses, which show off its fizziness. But it is also appropriate to drink from flutes. It comes in beautiful, 300 ml (10.1 ounce), blue bottles and is low in alcohol at five percent. Sweet and sparkling wine lovers will love this sake. Dewatsuru Sakura Emaki Junmai Rose is made of ancient heirloom purple rice strains. Sakura means cherry blossom, and the sake boasts the cherry-blossom blush of color of this ancient rice. It offers aromas of cherry and plum blossoms, and its own very distinct plum-like flavors. If you like pina coladas, Sake Colada is for you. It is a gorgeous glassful of Zaya Reserve 12 Year Rum, Tyku Coconut Nigori Sake, and pineapple juice. Sake Colada is golden in color, which devolves to ruby hues at the bottom of glass. And it is served on the rocks in a high ball and garnished with cherry and lemon. Layers of rum, coconut, and pineapple synthesize beautifully in this drink.
The Imperial cocktail includes a special Japanese whiskey, Hibiki. Smith pours a dram of it for us to sniff and taste. It offers aromas of plum, pineapple, raspberry, and honey. One sip brings forth flavors of banana, pomegranate, and custard with a complex finish. This spirit is combined with citrus ginger simple syrup and orange bitters in the Imperial cocktail. It is deep gold in color, served in a low ball on the rocks, and is reminiscent of an old fashioned. Highly recommended for bourbon and single malt scotch enthusiasts.