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Sake Sommelier

TAIYO: Taste of Sunshine

The sunflower is a symbol of the summer sun. For the July issue of Mixology Lab, Yuki Minakawa, Sake Sommelier at Masa, creates a summer cocktail featuring a rare sake made with sunflower yeast, Amabuki Junmai Ginjo Nama Sunflower Yeast.


Amabuki Junmai Ginjo Nama Sunflower Yeast
Category: Junmai Ginjo
Origin of production: Saga Prefecture
Rice milling rate: 55%
Alcohol content: 16-17%
Bottle size: 720 ml (24 oz)
Features: This is a nama genshu (unpasteurized and undiluted sake) made with sunflower yeast, which has a hint of dryness plus a rounded flavor. It is great with an array of dishes, but its refreshing taste goes particularly well with vegetables dishes. Its sharp aftertaste is perfect as a summer drink.
Distributed by NY Mutual Trading, Inc.

TAIYO: Taste of Sunshine
Cocktail recipe courtesy: Yuki Minakawa, Sake Sommelier of Masa


Summer and sunflower are synonymous, at least in Yuki Minakawa’s TAIYO–meaning “the Sun” in Japanese. She explains the inspiration behind her original cocktail, “When we think of summer, we always think of a sunflower. Amabuki Junmai Ginjo Sunflower Yeast, made with sunflower yeast, is a natural choice for a summer cocktail.” According to Yuki, sake sommelier of Masa, the sake has a hint of a nutty aroma, which goes well with orgeat syrup (almond base thick syrup with orange blossom). When she adds yuzu citrus and shiso leaf (Japanese basil) for a Japanese twist, it creates a complex and dangerously refreshing cocktail, making you crave one after another. This cocktail can be enjoyed at Masa and Bar Masa.

Ingredients: Serves 1
– 3 oz Amabuki Junmai Ginjo Nama Sunflower Yeast
– 0.25 oz Yuzu Omoi liqueur
– 0.25 oz lime
– 0.75 oz orgeat syrup
– 1 shiso leaf

1. Put a shiso leaf and lime juice into a glass and mash well.
2. Add Yuzu Omoi and homemade orgeat syrup.
3. Pour Amabuki Junmai Ginjo Nama Sunflower Yeast and shake well.
4. Double strain it to serve.




Amabuki Shuzo Co., Ltd.

Even with over 300 years of history, the long standing and well-established sake brewery in Saga Prefecture of the Western part of Kyushu Island is quite adventurous in exploring new flavors, methods and styles of enjoying sake. One good example of their challenging spirit is reflected through their sake series that uses flower kobo yeast. Introducing flower yeast is relatively new in the sake brewing history, and Amabuki Shuzo is one of the pioneers in making use of this type of yeast. Currently, 7 flower yeast sakes from the brewery are available, including the Amabuki Junmai Ginjo Nama Sunflower Yeast featured here, as well as the ones with strawberry flower, marigold, and pink flower.

2894 Higashio, Miyaki-machi, Miyaki-Gun
Saga, JAPAN  849-0113  |

Spearheaded by celebrated sushi chef, Masayoshi Takayama, Masa is an upscale Japanese restaurant in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. Serving highly seasonal and sophisticated tastes in a unique atmosphere, it guarantees a memorable dining  experience. Omakase starts at $595 per person. For more approachable, casual dining, visit adjacent Bar Masa (


10 Columbus Circle
Time Warner Center, 4th Fl., New York, NY 10019
TEL: 212-823-9807  |