Cocktail challenge to find Sake Shake-Up Champion

Nadeshiko MartiniRyu Okada of Sussex-based mobile bar company Kampai Cocktails has won a competition that highlighted the mixability of sake.

For his Nadeshiko Martini (pictured above), he combined Sho Chiku Shirakabegura Kimoto junmai sake with prosecco, home-made rhubarb syrup and a dash of rhubarb bitters plus a garnish of a sprinkle of cinnamon.

The Sake Shake-Up Champion was voted for by members of the audience attending Taste Japan at the Hyper Japan event at Earls Court, London, from July 26 to 29, part of a project by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The other two contestants were Alessandro Palumbo, bar manager of ramen bar Bone Daddies and new izakaya-inspired Flesh and Buns in London, and Niya Martin from Mizuwari in Soho, London, the UK’s first dedicated Japanese whisky bar.

Ryu Okada (pictured below) is the founder and managing director of Kampai Cocktails, which provides cocktails bars for events and consultancy on cocktails. Its name comes from the Japanese for “cheers”. He previously worked at Detroit bar in London and Wabi in Horsham, West Sussex.

“Sake sales are increasing in this country, but sake cocktails are yet to take off in terms of popularity,” Ryu said.

His Nadeshiko Martini took its name from the word for “pink” in Old Japanese. “Sake is a delicate taste so I didn’t want to bury it with strong fruit juices and, in my opinion, simplicity epitomises Japanese food and ideals,” he explained. “The rhubarb was a nod to my adopted home of Britain and the cinnamon completed the drink perfectly.”

Hyper Japan also hosted the Eat-Japan Sake Experience, offering visitors a chance to sample different sakes, including sparkling, unfiltered (muroka), undiluted (genshu) and aged (koshu), presented at a range of temperatures and in different styles including heated, chilled, and on the rocks.

Hyper Japan is an annual event celebrating Japanese culture and products. As part of the Taste Japan section, it included a Japanese Bar and Tea Station offering samples of different Japanese teas and alcoholic drinks including shochu, umeshu, Japanese whisky and wine.

Click here for more about the competition and sake on Ryu Okada’s blog.

Ryu Okada

Pictures by Kaori Ando

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