Sweet sweet mirin

After weeks of rain, we now have to deal with a sudden summer heat in Tokyo. At least it's sunny so we don't have to worry about laundry anymore, but it's hot hot hot!

Anyhow, I've recently discovered the wonders of "mirin", a type of syrupy rice liquor that used to be a popular drink back a few centuries ago. Nowadays, it's mostly used for cooking, and no one really think of it as a drink - neither did I until we visited Toshimaya brewery in western Tokyo to write about them for the first volume of our booklet. 

Unlike mass-produced cheap mirin that dominates Japanese kitchen, Toshimaya's mirin is produced the traditional way, by soaking sticky rice and rice molt in shochu (distilled liquor) to infuse sweetness and flavors into the liquid. Though it's thick and incredibly sweet, the sweetness lifts so smoothly that it tastes nice and light. At the same time, it contains 13-14% alcohol, so you can get hammered if you're not careful. It's a bit like porto.  

I've been hooked on sipping mirin on the rocks since the sudden arrival of this summery weather. 

It tastes extra wonderful at the end of a long muggy day - I can feel the sweet liquor evoking happiness as it goes through my body. I've heard of Japanese kitchen drinkers taking a swig of mirin, and I get it now. It's tasty! But, make sure to get a good one if you intend on drinking it. 

Mirin: 669yen/600ml bottle 
Toshimaya Honten