Father's Day is June 16
Last week, Urban Sake's Timothy Sullivan was kind enough to invite me to his ongoing sake tasting course, "The Elements of Sake" at the Astor Wine and Liquor Shop's very new and swanky Astor Center (just around the corner from the shop). It was the second class ever to take place in the gleaming space-- complete with sparkling white tile counters, a censored stainless steel sink between every other person, reclining leather chairs, a beautiful test kitchen behind the front counter, and LCD screens right above it.

The place was packed! Every seat was taken-- I took Erin* as my guest and we sipped while listening to Tim talk passionately about sake. He went through the types of sake (Junmai, Ginjo, Daiginjo), must-know terms, ingredients, the brewing process, and added his own personal tidbits of how he came to learn about sake. He was recently invited to Japan in honor of his devotion for sake, and he's been awarded the title of "Sake Samurai", which only two Americans hold. WOW!

Here's a list of the sakes we tried (with my notes- increasing in quality and price I believe):
- Urakasumi (Junmai- sweet, full, good to serve warm)
- Hakkaisan (Ginjo- crisp, smooth)
- Rihaku (Nigori- creamy, sweet)
- Wakatake (Nama- sweet)
- Dassai (Junmai Daiginjo- fruity, sharp, clean)

We all had these little remotes that we used to "vote" for our favorite sake. I think everyone loved the last three-- I personally always like the second one, which is what my pops drinks.

Tim's love and knowledge of sake runs deep, and his excitement about it was really infectious. I guess if I could relay one thing that I learned that night, it's that sake is at it's best in the season its made for (usually spring or fall). Unlike wine where you wait for years for it to peak, sake should be consumed while it's still "young". Astor Wine has a great selection of sakes, as does NY's own sake shop Sakaya in the East Village.

In total the tasting lasted about an hour and a half. The class is well-paced with great visuals and Tim encourages questions and dialogue- so it's a great course for sake novices. He's teaching through the spring for $95 a pop (Mon. 2/18, Wed. 3/19, Fri. 4/18; here's a 2 spots for 1 promo code I found (sneaky!): ACWelcome)-- hurry and sign up cause it's gonna fill up fast!

*I have been informed by the nice people at Astor Center that the promo code is only available for February programs. A post-Valentines day date maybe?

*All photos by the one and only Erin Gleeson.


  • Thanks for attending the class and I’m glad you enjoyed it! I was very excited to have the opportunity to do sake education as a Sake Samurai. It’s an amazing space to teach and learn in. The next classes are going to be even better!
    thanks again,

    Timothy on

  • Oh wow! I want to go to the next one. Bookmarking the site right now

    John P on

  • Wow,
    I would love to learn more about sake!

    Cindy. Lo. on

  • nice post, kayo! congrats on tastespotting!

    erin on

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published