Hey all! Ian here.
On behalf of the Umami Mart team, I want to thank everybody who came out to our Honkaku Spirits event on the 29th. It was our first time doing an in-person event after essentially a year and a half of curbside bentos, Sake Gumi tastings over Zoom, and listening to our little bar weep in loneliness, missing its beloved patrons.
It was also our first time serving hard spirits with our shiny new liquor license! For those that remember, our bar had always been limited to sake, beer, and "SOJU" shochu diluted to 24% ABV. Now we are able to share every one of our offerings with you, including every shochu under the sun, gin, rum, and rare Japanese whiskies (and believe me, we really have been stockpiling them this last year).
Takamine Whiskey taste pours ready to be legally imbibed.
It felt so great in these times of uncertainty to see our bar in service with so many of our regulars; the bartop has been humming ever since, and we can't wait until we can invite you back in to blow off some steam and see what hijinks we've been getting into here at the shop.
Suffice it to say that our shochu selection has grown considerably, and it is such a great help that people like Christopher at the Honkaku Spirits team is working hard to expand this category in the U.S. We now have a greater arsenal for showing the huge range and diversity of these spirits and we're grateful for it.
Old and new friends discussing the magic of shochu.
Steve wouldn't miss the chance to try the buttery Takamine Whiskey
Wouldn't be an UM party without some good tunes.
Christopher Pellegrini making the rounds.
In case you want to learn more about Honkaku Spirits – and shochu and awamori in general – you can check out their website; there's tons of detailed information on all of these expressions and a map to where you can buy them around the country (spoiler: we are on this map).
I also have to put another plug in to the Japan Distilled Podcast, hosted by Christopher and his partner in crime, Stephen Lyman. As a shochu head, I can't recommend this highly enough; I've listened to each episode and learned a lot, and there's something in it for beginning learners of the drink and it progressively gets more heady and nerdy as the episodes progress.
Kayoko, Christopher, and Yoko
Obligatory shot of the boys
Thanks again so much for helping to warm our space up, and for all of your support and patience this past year. We love you all and can't wait to see you again!
Special thanks to Christopher for joining our event and talking to everyone about shochu and beyond. We can't wait to host you here again.