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Awamori IS Okinawa's special drink

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2012-01-13

Awamori is Okinawa’s own liquor, and its popularity is on the tips of peoples’ tongues not only within the prefecture, but across Japan and around the world.

There are 48 awamori distillers in Okinawa Prefecture, and those industries crank out more than 900 varieties of awamori. Awamori is taking on a life all of its own, matching brandies, whiskeys and wines as vintage products that are capable of maturing and improving as the years go by. Some say that special taste, “growing up to be a well-aged awamori,” leads to at least a 100-year-old smooth flavor beverage, or perhaps even 200 years if storage conditions are just right.

That’s been documented as something unprecedented, as super-aged awamori was lost during World War II, but occasionally surfaces. Even the 20-year, 30-year and 40-year awamori is valued for its fragrance and mellow flavor. In many cases, that special taste equates to some price tags that are nearly guaranteed to cause heart failure with the light-hearted.
Awamori’s popularity grows in quantum leaps, with bottles boarding aircraft more and more frequently, destined for new homes in liquor cabinets around the world. Locals drink it very often, and foreigners are catching the hang of it, too. Like fine whiskeys, there are numerous ways to imbibe. On the rocks. On the rocks with water. Served hot. Served hot with water. Used as the base for cocktails.

Now there’s a concept and a half. Awamori is finding its way into more and more bars, and into more and more cocktails, as bartenders use awamori as something really special. Awamori cocktail competitions attract professional bartenders from across Japan now, usurping what was once a homegrown specialty. Original cocktails are being developed seemingly every week, with compatibility being discovered with fruit juices, sweet tropical fruits such as mango, and with plain sour citrus fruits.
Awamori’s popularity is such that Japan Update has now teamed with a local Okinawan bar to mix new cocktails using awamori. Original cocktails conjured up by our partner bar, Seaside Café & Bar ‘Bar Bounty’ near the waterfront in the Sunabe district of Chatan Town, will be introduced each week.

What’s more, those new awamori cocktails will be presented in the Awamori Cocktail Recipe Corner in each edition of Japan update, along with a special coupon. The coupon’s redeemable at Bar Bounty, courtesy of Japan Update and our partner.

Bar Bounty is located by Sunabe Seawall on the first floor of a yellow three-story building. From Kadena Air Base Gate 1, turn left onto Highway 58, heading south to Toyo Hanten Chinese Restaurant on the right. Turn right, then continue to the Sunabe Seawall, easy to find as it’s a one-way street. Keep driving, looking for the yellow building, which also houses a Hawaiian goods shop, Island Break, on the second floor, and Curry Restaurant Fab on the third floor.

Bar Bounty is open daily Tuesday through Saturday from 7 p.m. Bar Bounty is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

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