By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Kelsey drinks — sake?
05122019 SAKE 001.JPG
From left to right, Ikezo Sake Jello Shot, Tyku Sake available on draft and Kizakura Junmai Nigori Sake. These varaities of sake and more are available at Zen Ramen and Sushi Burrito in downtown Gainesville. - photo by Austin Steele

No, your eyesight is fine. I felt like laying down a wild card this week by abandoning beer and opting for sake, also called rice wine.  

I don’t have a history with sake like I have with my love of beer, but I’ve always been drawn to Japanese culture.

I went through a weeaboo — a derogatory term for someone obsessed with everything Japanese —  phase in high school. However, this column is about sake, so I’m stopping here with the story about my embarrassing Naruto headband-wearing past.

I’m by no means an expert on sake, but I figured there’s no harm in putting it to the taste bud test.

Where can you even find sake in Gainesville?

Zen Ramen & Sushi Burrito in downtown Gainesville recently opened its sake bar, which includes 70 different types of the beverage. You can purchase sake in cans, bottles or on tap. The prices range from $6 to a whopping $79.

I chose the sake on the lower end of the scale to soften the blow on my wallet, each costing between $6-$10.  

The first type of sake I tried was a steaming cup of the Tyku, which is on tap. People have the choice of ordering it cold or hot.

The Tyku sake held a bit of an upfront sweet scuppernong flavor and subtle nutty notes. For those who have never seen a scuppernong, it’s a golden grape native to Georgia.

This sake had quite the alcoholic bite at the end but held onto a light mouthfeel.

Next up was the Ikezo Peach Sparkling Jelly Sake. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this drink was an entirely different experience compared to the other.

When I poured the can of sake into my cup, it came out as this clear gelatinous form.

The can instructs you to shake it, but my excitement got the best of me. I wouldn’t say that not shaking it was a mistake, but the action probably would’ve made the sake easier to pour. I had to squeeze the can to get the goop out.

Surprisingly the gooiness wasn’t off-putting. It reminded me of a Jell-O shot, made of sparkling peach moscato. I feel like a basic white girl for saying this, but it tasted utterly fabulous — 10 out of 10, would drink again.

The third bottle of sake I tested also proved a different experience. The Sake Junmai Nigori Kizakura gave off a cloudy, milky appearance and the mouthfeel was slightly heavy and chalky.

The upfront flavor seemed sweet and familiar. I spent a while trying to identify the note, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I talked with two others who have tried the same sake, and they agreed with my observation.

I would compare it to Japanese strawberry yoghurt milk, but it’s not quite the same.

If anyone can decipher the mystery of this sake’s flavor, feel free to reach out to me — I’m stumped.

Regional events