As the mercury drops, and it starts to feel like winter with each passing day, it is time to start raising the temperature of your sake. It’s time for Atsukan (hot sake). There really is nothing better to warm the body and soul on a cold winter’s day.
Actually, Atsukan is just one term for warm sake, there are many more; one for each temperature range in fact. The myriad of ways to enjoy sake is what makes it so attractive and complex and gives it something to boast about over wine and beer. In this article, we will look at several other fitting ways, besides Okan, to enjoy sake.
3 must-try drinking styles for the coldest winter months
Three examples of how sake tastes so much better after coming out of the cold.
First up is Dashiwari, a mixture of Japanese sake and Oden soup broth. It’s the way the aroma and warmth complement the umami of the sake that makes this pairing work so well. While there are very few Oden stores that serve Dashiwari — it’s a bit of an exclusive menu, this is quite the find.
Crab Shell Sake
Perhaps one of the tastiest ways to drink sake. It’s also very luxurious. Simply pour Japanese sake into a crab shell that has a little meat left in it, heat it on a stove, and when it starts to boil…pour in the sake.
Hire-sake (Grilled fish fin sake)
Simply pop some grilled Fugu (Puffer Fish) or Sea Bream in your hot sake. Hire-sake is a popular comfort food in Yamaguchi prefecture which just happens to also be famous for the puffer fish. Like the Crab Shell Sake, it’s revered as something of a bit of luxury by the natives. It’s best served at Atsukan（50℃）or tobikirikan（55～60℃）.
Can drinking be healthy? 4 ways to drink sake that are good for the body
All of the following drinking options are good for your body and will help against the cold / strengthen the immune system.
Tamago Sake (Sake Egg Nog)
This Japanese version of egg nog is a colds cure that has been passed down through the ages. The secret to this drink which is made by adding eggs and sugar (or honey) to heated Japanese sake, is to use a tea strainer and slowly add the sake so the egg does not harden. This drink also makes for an easy source of nutrition.
The recipe is simple: simply grate some garlic into your hot sake. And if you’re looking for a cold cure without the stink, steaming the garlic before grating decreases the pungency. It is also an excellent drink for fatigue recovery.
Tororo (grated yam) sake
Mix grated yam into a watered down broth and pour in warm sake. The same qualities as egg sake, in the sense that it is often drank by people who have a cold. Mucin compounds that are in the yam fixes and protects the membrane of the stomach.
Simply adding ginger to hot sake increases the warming effect on the body. And the great thing about this drink is just how easy it is to make. This one is really for those colder months.
A Little Sweetness to relax the soul: 3 ways to make sake a little sweeter
And now for something a little sweeter.
The ingredients are 45ml of Japanese sake, 60ml of red wine, 30ml of orange juice, 30ml of chocolate (thinly sliced), 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 stick of cinnamon. Put all the ingredients into a pot and heat until it is about to boil. Then stop heating it and pour it into a heat resistant container. Add a stick of cinnamon to finish. Transform your favourite Japanese sake and wine into a sweet smelling hot chocolate cocktail.
Maple butter sake
Another simple one to make. The ingredients are 80ml of Japanese sake, 40ml of milk, 20-30ml of maple syrup and 15g of butter. Put the ingredients into a pot and stir while heating slowly. The gentle sweet taste of maple syrup and mellow scent of butter combine for a rich sake cocktail from heaven.
Adding it to O-shiruko
A different way to enjoy your favourite sake warm by adding hot o-shiruko (sweet red bean soup with mochi). Each enhances the flavour of the other.
This winter try a variety of different ways to enjoy sake, starting with “atsukan!”
And that wraps up this guide to winter sake drinking styles. Whether it’s a healthy option to revitalize your health, or just something to keep you warm on those cold winter days, venture away from Atsukan this winter and experience the diversity of sake for yourself.