Friday, June 19, 2015

Japanese whisky residency, Bar Otsukare, coming to Crane & Turtle June 29

This sounds pretty great -- Bar Otsukare, a Japanese whisky pop-up, will be coming to Crane & Turtle on Upshur Street every Monday starting June 29 this Monday, June 29. The idea, from local mixologists Eddie Kim and Jesse Selvagn, is to "demystify Japanese drinking culture in an accessible and unintimidating atmosphere."

If you haven't tried it, Japanese whisky is pretty delicious and diverse, and it's actually getting rarer in the USA due to increased popularity in Japan. There's also often delicious snacks that go along with it. I'm excited.

The events will start with a small, ticketed educational tasting and food pairing event with Crane & Turtle's chef Makoto, then the bar is open to the public (free, no tickets) with whisky, sake and shochu, other Japanese spirits. Sounds like a good way to learn more or just get a tasty drink.

The word Otsukare comes from a phrase used among coworkers at the bar after a hard day of work in Japan. The event is the work of DC bartenders Eddie Kim and Jesse Selvagn, well-known cocktail makers around town who are Japanese whisky and sake experts. Among other places, both have worked at Daikaya in Chinatown, which is a fantastic spot combining Japanese izakaya food along with cocktails and whisky.

The full press release is below. Crane & Turtle is the Japanese restaurant from the folks behind Room 11, Petworth Citizen, Upshur Street Books, Slim's Diner and more. It's at 828 Upshur Street NW.


Bar Otsukare is excited to make its debut with Monday night residencies at Crane & Turtle in Petworth (828 Upshur St. NW, Washington, DC 20001) on Monday, June 29th.

Over the course of the summer, Bar Otsukare aims to explore the unique and varied drinking traditions of Japan -- with sessions featuring a rotating selection of rare Japanese whiskies from Suntory, Nikka, Chichibu, Mars and others, alongside a spectrum of shochus and sakes.

Each two-part event will begin with a ticketed educational tasting, where Crane and Turtle’s acclaimed chef Makoto Hamamura will collaborate on a selection of accompanying bar snacks. Tickets are $75 per person and are limited to 15 seats per tasting, available through Eventbrite. Here is the link:

The first tasting will focus on the history and production of Japanese whisky. We will lead a guided tour of six whiskies spanning the core portfolios of Suntory and Nikka, plus one popular style whisky highball. 

This will be followed by a full bar open to the public. The first bar night will showcase the whiskies of Nikka and its founder Masataka Taketsuru, commonly referred to as the father of Japanese whisky. We will also be pouring premium sakes representing five main style categories and shochus produced from a variety of traditional grains.

About Bar Otsukare
“Otsukare!” is a word often heard in Japan after a hard day’s work. Short for “otsukare sama deshita,” the respectful phrase said to co-workers thanking them for their efforts, it is also the refrain that takes the place of “Kampai” when sharing a well-earned drink. A project from D.C. bartenders Eddie Kim (Room 11, Columbia Room, Daikaya) and Jesse Selvagn, Certified Sake Advisor, (Mandu, Proof, Daikaya), Bar Otsukare aims to demystify Japanese drinking culture in an accessible and unintimidating atmosphere.

Whisky 101 Tasting List
Suntory Yamazaki 12 Year Single Malt
Suntory Hakushu 12 Year Single Malt
Suntory Hibiki Blended
Nikka Yoichi 15 Year Single Malt
Nikka Miyagikyo 12 Year Single Malt
Nikka Taketsuru 17 Year Pure Malt
Suntory Hakushu Highball

Nikka Night Bar Bottle List
  1. Yoichi 12 Year Single Malt
  2. Yoichi 12 Year – Sherry and Sweet – Component Yoichi malt for blending
  3. Yoichi 12 Year – Peaty and Salty– Component Yoichi malt for blending
  4. Yoichi 15 Year Single Malt
  5. Yoichi 20 Year Single Malt
  6. Miyagikyo 12 Year Single Malt
  7. Miyagikyo 15 Year Single Malt
  8. Tsuru 17 Year – Special blend created to showcase the essence of Nikka's smooth, mellow malt
  9. Taketsuru 21 Year Single Malt
  10. Taketsuru 21 Year Madeira Cask Finish – 1/500 Bottles released for Nikka's 80th anniversary
  11. Nikka Coffey Grain – Single Grain Whisky distilled in the Miyagikyo's 1960's era Coffey Patent stills
  12. Nikka Coffey Malt – Single Malt Whisky distilled in the Miyagikyo's 1960's era Coffey Patent stills
  13. Nikka 1990's Blend – Blend of vintage malts distilled during 1990's

  1. Chiyomusubi Oni no Shitaburui Honjozo – “Quivering Tongued Demon” named after the legend of Princess Tamahime and the crocodile
  2. Oze no Yukidoke Omachi Junmai Ginjo –  Made from Omachi, known as the original sake rice, in brewery with just 4 kurobito (brewers), 2 of whom are toji (master sake brewers)
  3. Suigei Tokubetsu Junmai – “Drunken Whale” Brewed in Kochi, home to Chef Makoto
  4. Tengumai Yamahai Junmai Daiginjo Kokoshu – “Dancing Goblin” Brewed using the traditional, labor intensive Yamahai Method  and aged 3 Years
  5. Ohyama Tokubetsu Junmai Nigori – Refined, dry Nigorizake from a brewery that made sake for the Shogun in the 19th century

  1. Satsuma Kurodashi Genshu - Limited production, undiluted shochu from Kogane Sengan sweet potatos. Bottled at 37% abv rather than the typical 25%
  2. Tori Kai - A masterpiece of smooth, Ginjo style rice shochu produced by the same family since 1575
  3. Ginza no Suzume Kohaku - Aged 3 years in ex-bourbon barrels from one of the best known barley shochu producers
  4. Zuisen Awamori - Traditional clay pot ageing makes this a particularly smooth Awamori shochu
  5. Beniotome Goma - Distillation of roasted sesame and barley produces a round, complex, peanut buttery flavor

Full disclosure: Eddie Kim is a friend, but I would post this anyway because it sounds awesome.

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