When Eric Tanaka, executive chef and business partner for Tom Douglas’ restaurant group, suggested that it might be interesting to create a frozen sake juice box (as seen in Japan), Adam Chumas ran with the idea. But instead of a juice box, the bar director for Tom Douglas Restaurants proposed adding sake to a slushy machine. What resulted is a brilliant though simple icy beverage that you can sip or spoon. Year around, the sake slushy is the most popular drink on the menu at Douglas’ TanakaSan restaurant (downtown, 2121 Sixth Ave.; 206.812.8412; tanakasanseattle.com).
The original version, which debuted when the restaurant opened, pairs sake with lemon juice and simple syrup. The mixture is poured into a slushy machine and churned. Other versions are topped with floats of boozy color, such as the Ruby Red, which shows off its mix of crème de pamplemousse and Aperol, tasting of grapefruit and strong herbal bitters. A tropical version, the Mai Tai slushy, is doused with dark rum and freshly pressed pineapple juice from the juice bar at neighboring Assembly Hall.
TanakaSan’s slushy is very versatile, says Chumas. “You can put anything on it and it tastes great.” His favorite? The original sake slushy with a float of the Japanese lager Sapporo. Get yours during slushy happy hour, from 3 to 6 p.m. daily.
Sake Slushie Basics
Why this drink: Slushies are refreshing, especially during the hot months. “They are a fun, thematic play on the menu at TanakaSan,” Chumas adds. The slushy “incorporates a cool, traditional Japanese beverage with a fun cocktail-idea twist.”
Key ingredient: Sake. At TanakaSan, they use a dry sake (such as Hakutsuru).
When you’ll find it: Year around.
Make it at home: Purchase everyday drinking sake from Uwajimaya (Chinatown–International District, 600 Fifth Ave. S; 206.624.6248; uwajimaya.com; also in Renton and Bellevue) or for a splurge, visit Saké Nomi (Pioneer Square, 76 S Washington St.; 206.467.7253; sakenomi.us), a high-end sake store, and buy a bottle of Hou Hou Shu sparkling sake, which is low in alcohol and high in residual sugar. With this sake, says Chumas, you can simply pour it into trays and freeze—no blending of simple syrup or lemon juice needed. “It makes a fluffy, wonderful, snow-like slushy.”
PHOTO: Hayley Young. TankaSan's Adam Chumas perfects a sake slushie.
Sake Slushy Recipe for a Crowd
9 cups sake
2 cups water
1 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup lemon juice
Stir all ingredients together until well blended. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. To serve, add cubes to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until ice is flaked and softer. Pour into chilled glasses and serve.