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For the most part, sake is drunk either hot or cold. But when it’s sweltering outside there’s a better way: frozen. Made by Chiyo No Kame, a small, innovative sake brewery founded in 1871, Ginga Tetsudo (which roughly translates to “starlight express”) is an unpasteurized junmai daiginjo sake that has been aged, frozen, for 10 years.
For sake sommelier Yasu Suzuki, who offers the unique refreshment at New York City’s Sushi Seki, it is more than just a boozy slushy: It’s a drinking experience that evolves over the course of a dinner. “Once a customer orders the sake, I start defrosting it by rinsing it with lukewarm water,” he says. “The first glass is like sorbet. Then, during the meal, it melts little by little. The flavor is almost like rum-raisin. There’s a little sugar component in sake and during the aging process it matures, becoming slightly caramelized. All of the young fruit flavors that the sake started with become more nutty, more caramelly, more vanilla.”
If you would like to try freezer-aging your own sake, Suzuki recommends wrapping the bottle in that day’s newspaper (so you can keep track of how old it is) and opting for a namazake that is on the sweeter side.