May 24, 2012
I want Washio’s Awamori Wasabi-wari to be world famous, so I’ve gone ahead and named it “The World Famous Awamori Wasabi-wari.” It’s been out there on the WORLD wide web for over three years now, so I think it has earned its title.
I caught the making of the world famous Awamori Wasabi-wari on tape last year during my visit to this tiny little bar in western Tokyo. Mr. Washio fills a glass with ice, pours in the awamori, then adds grated wasabi and slices of shiso to garnish the drink.
Awamori is a distilled spirit from the Okinawa islands. It is made from long grain rice and is considered a type of shochu but can only be called awamori if it is made on the Okinawa islands (much like the appellation of Champagne). Although the process of making awamori is similar to shochu, it is often much higher in alcohol content, typically ranging from 30-45% ABV versus other types of shochu which usually have a 25% ABV.
Washio not only produces this world famous drink at his namesake bar, but also some of the freshest plates of sashimi and all the ojisan (old man) favorites. There is nothing fancy about this place and that’s why I love it.
To support my claim that this drink has “world famous” status, Washi Washino, former bartender of Ippuku in Berkeley, often received inquiries from patrons who asked if he made the Awamori Wasabi-wari. He did not. In fact, I don’t know if any bar in the U.S. makes anything like this yet — let me know if you know a place that does. So spread the word and urge your bartenders to add awamori, and this cocktail to their repertoire!
1-3-14 Izumi Suginami-ku, Tokyo
Daitabashi Station, Keio Line