Put down your shochu: The latest Tokyo drink trend to make its way stateside is sparkling sake. And if you aren't much of a sake lover, it might be just the eye-opener you need to embrace the joys of rice wine.
Bottled in everything from elegant, long glass vessels to girly pink-and-blue flip-top cans, sparkling sake is an adventurous alternative for the Prosecco-drinking crowd. Like traditional sake, sparkling sake comes in unfiltered (nigori) and crystal-clear styles. However, sparkling sake has about half the alcohol of other sakes, and it's slightly sweeter as well, making it the perfect pairing for spicy foods and dessert--or a great entry point for the neophyte sake drinker.
Begin your sparkling-sake love affair with these bottles:
Chikurin Hana Hou Hou Shu ($19 for 300 ml) An infusion of rose petals and hibiscus makes this sake especially flavorful, while the touch of sweetness means it's a good match for spicy food (sakayanyc.com).
Harushika Tokimeki ($17 for 330 ml) Aromas of tropical fruit highlight this extra-bubbly sake (astorwines.com).
Ozeki Hana Awaka ($19 a glass) Fruitier than traditional sake, this crystal-clear sake is a good bet in your next brunch-time mimosa. Available at Megu Midtown, 845 United Nations Plaza; 212-964-7777 or megunyc.com
Chikurin Hou Hou Shu ($37 a bottle) This easy-drinking, creamy sparkling sake has a grainy nose but a fruity, grape-like taste. Available at Mr. Jones Yakitori, 243 E. 14th St. (between Second and Third aves.); 212-253-7670 ormrjonesnyc.com