For The Sake Of Pure Joy – The Joy Of Sake In New York

For the passionate saké lovers, The Joy of Sake, the heavens of the saké world, helps them relive the pure joy that sake can yield. For those who simply enjoy the unique aroma and taste of certain sakes, this event guides you through the many heavenly paths towards the sakes of your desires. This event’s mission is to also provide sake education, and through actual tasting events, to develop an ardent and lifelong appreciation for these fermented beverages.

The Joy of Sake, the largest sake tasting in the world outside Japan, returned to New York for its 12th annual celebration on Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 with hundreds of sake. To be exact, there were 381 sakes, forming an outstanding lineup of premium labels, shipped from Japan four months ago to guarantee the prime peak of their flavor. They are shipped and stored in refrigerated containers; the key to keeping the sake fresh on this very evening. Of this extensive list, there were 89 silver and over 100 gold award winners selected by a team of ten judges in the 2017 U.S National Sake Appraisal. This event also included amazingly delicious sake appetizers from 16 of New York’s finest restaurants.

Upon entering Metropolitan Pavilion, friendly Joy of Sake staff welcomed and greeted all guests with warm smiles before sending them off on their own sake and food adventure, their personal search for the sake of their liking. The different varieties of sake (Daiginjo A, Daiginjo B, Ginjo, and Junmai), separated by their rice-polishing ratios, were placed on long tables spread out across the center of the venue. Blue lights, gracefully placed in the center of the table and between two rows of bottles of sake, ran from one end to the other of each table. In front of every sake, there was a tasting cup and a pipette, with which guests can use to transfer small amounts of sake into their own tasting glass. As you move down the table, enjoying little sips of different sakes (and if you so happen to find one you like) and the sight of the blue lights, you start to feel as if you are being placed in a whole new dimension, a heavenly space that is completely different and distinct yet unique from that of another guest.

Northern Skies

Akitabare “Koshiki Junzukuri”, its subdued, understated refinement evokes a sense of where it was meticulously brewed.

Seventh Heaven 

Masumi “Nanago” Yamahai Junmai Daiginjo, a well-nurtured, redolently flavorful daiginjo with a nonchalant attitude: old-style sake for the 21st Century.

Snow Diamond

Akitabare “Kawashin”, flavorful and aromatic, with notes of chestnut and lychee, yet supple in structure for easy drinkability. It’s all here: fragrance, taste, body and texture, in perfect harmony.

Heaven of Tipsy Delight 

Akitabare “Suirakuten” Daiginjo, rarefied, multi-hued flavor, gentle yet strong, unassuming but proud, a masterpiece of the brewer’s art.

What does bring you back is the water bottles on the tables placed adequately around the room for those who want to clean their palate with water in between varying sakes. By then, if you haven’t already, you will realize there are sake appetizers from different restaurants that you can sample. To enjoy your sakes to the fullest, good appetizers are needed, and the ones provided at this event did not disappoint. However, some did stand out a bit more than the rest.

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15 East

Served the Foie Gras and Truffle Chawanmushi; a Japanese egg custard which filled every space of the mouth with the rich and buttery flavor of foie gras and the strong yet not overpowering taste of truffles gave it the perfect finish.

Bond St’s

King Crab Dashimaki Tamago with roe and the chef’s last minute addition of huge pieces of sea urchin brought this appetizer over the top. The uni was indescribably fresh and sweet which complemented the king crab, while the texture of the uni contrasted with the firmness of the dashimaki tamago perfectly.


Presented their seared scallop drizzled with olive oil and topped with sea urchin, chopped wasabi and tonburi on a mini plastic pan, served with absolute freshness.

The collaborative ambiance created was an absolute enjoyable experience. Everyone was enjoying the event whether they were alone, with a friend, or in groups. Endless sake tasting called for occupied hands, either holding a tasting glass, an appetizer, or a phone to capture all of the moments and vibes through photographs. The venue filled up with infinite smiles, laughter and excitement.

If you missed this one of a kind event, which takes place only once a year in New York City, you still have time to make it to the upcoming Joy of Sake, happening in Tokyo, Japan on November 1st, 2017. Or simply wait in New York City until next year. You do not want to miss a second time!
Photographer Event Michael Tulipan | Photographer Dishes Maria Vullo