Even where sake is plentiful--the tony sushi bars sprouting up, as well as more refined Japanese restaurants--the bartender is not always willing to desecrate his cold premium sake. While some will acquiesce and serve a saketini concocted out of guesswork, most wait staff will politely rebuff the request with the response that they serve sake and they serve martinis--either gin or vodka--but no, they do not serve a sake martini.
Off the Record, the sedate lounge steps from the White House in the Hay Adams Hotel, has long been a destination for sake connoisseurs. The bartender can--and does--tutor customers on the merits of their premium cold sakes. When it comes time to shake his house saketini--sake and dry vermouth with a twist wrapped around an olive--he uses a Kazeno Ichirin sake, a very respectable cold sake. This is an exception.
"No one mixes sake with anything in Japan," insists John Gauntner, a sake columnist for The Japan Times, proprietor of www.sake- world.com and author of "The Sake Companion" (Running Hill Press, $24.95). "One would no sooner mix good sake with anything than one would a fine wine or other sipping beverage," adds Gauntner.
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