This week’s Journal feature comes to us from Emma Siobhan McLoughlin, a Richmond native and recent graduate. Aside from writing, she also practices yoga and takes an interest in thoughtful food and drink.
In the spirit of our upcoming event with Accoutre, an aesthetically driven home-wares boutique in Scott’s Addition, I took the time to do some research on the national drink of Japan—sake. While Richmond is definitely a gathering place for wine, beer, and cocktail drinkers alike thanks to the many breweries and high-end bars, I’ve noticed a resurgence in sake’s popularity since the beginning of summer. Similarly, I’ve seen a wide variety of sake being utilized in new ways.
Stillwater Artisanal, a brewery based in Maryland, brews their “Extra Dry” sake-style saison with rice in order to mimic the subtle and drinkable flavors of sake. The Jasper, a beautifully elegant cocktail bar in Carytown, will be using sake on their upcoming menu in a pairing with Gunpowder Irish gin and shiso to elevate the flavor profile of the cocktail and create a balanced beverage that sake and non-sake drinkers both can appreciate.
While sake is often referred to as rice wine, the beverage actually has more in common with beer thanks to a brewing process through which starch is converted into alcohol. Junmai-shu, Ginjo-shu, Daiginjo-shu, Honjozo-shu and Namazake are the five main kinds of sake. They are brewed in slightly different ways and make use of different percentage of milling and hence, have a unique taste. Seimai Buai, or the degree of milling, makes all the difference to the sake and determines the grade of the beverage.
Boketto roughly translates into English as to gaze vacantly into the distance without thinking. With the beauty of the Japanese language comes the beauty of their customs and practices, specifically in regards to the sharing of food and drink.Traditionally, saké was served one of two ways: the first was in a choko, a small ceramic cup accompanied by a ceramic flask called a tokkuri. The other was a small wooden cup called a masu, which would either have a choko in it, or would sit on a saucer. Either way, the drink might be poured so that it spilled over the cup's rim, a sign of the host's generosity. In Japanese culture, serving yourself suggests a distrust in your host to take care of you. However, this transgression is more meant to convey saké-drinking's focus on friendship. Loved ones use saké to toast weddings, the New Year, and other celebrations. So pouring for a friend—and letting them do the same for you—is meant to create a bond.
Accoutre x Boketto Sushi & Sake will be hosted at our brick and mortar on North Vine St. from 6-8pm on Thursday, August 15. Japanese inspired food and North American Sake from Charlottesville be served. A $10-20 donation is encouraged. We hope you will join us for this exciting event!