For Goodness SAKE – Interview with Richie Hawtin by Naia Reid
Mention Sake and most people think of those rather sharp shots you down as quickly as possible after your meal at the local Japanese restaurant. Sake is often considered the drink of an older generation, or as a pairing that only suits and compliments Japanese food. These misconceptions were completely blown out of the water at a recent Sake tasting we attended, hosted by no other than music icon Richie Hawtin himself at Vino & Co., San Jordi, Ibiza.
Richie has had a 20-year love affair with the history, art, culture and diversity of Japan and its native rice and fruit based tipple – Sake. He has travelled the length and breadth of Japan during his numerous visits, meeting native producers of the finest Sake Japan has to offer and is a professional Sake Sommelier. Richie has curated his own collection, called ENTER.Sake which is truly impressive in its elegance, smoothness and surprising range of delicate flavours.
Richie explained that the curation of his collection of Sake was an organic process that unfolded naturally through friendly relationships he developed there during his travels. His concept was to work with brewers who had been producing Sake on a small scale with the greatest of care and pride over many generations. Many of these families had been struggling to maintain their trade after war ravaged the country, or due to younger generations leaving their rural homes in search of work in the cities. Richie is determined to support these producers and share the cultural effect that Sake has in Japan with the rest of the world- bringing people together to enjoy each other’s company, to relax and enjoy a beautiful thing…just as he does with his music. His work in rejuvenating the culture of Sake around the globe has earned him the status of Sake Samurai – awarded by the Japanese Sake Brewery Association.
Richie has coined Sake as “the drink of the summer” as it is ideal for enjoying in a warm climate and the versatility in how it can be served and its list of complimentary pairings is almost as long as the number of Hawtin’s own track releases! With a current collection of 8 stunning variations of Sake to choose from different regions of Japan, this ancient drink has something to please every palate.
To Richie and those who join him on the Sake journey, we raise our Sake glasses … “Kampai!”
Naia Reid: Richie, thanks so much for taking the time to tell us about ENTER.Sake.
How did your relationship with and interest in Sake begin?
Richie Hawtin: I first went to Japan in 1994 when I was invited to perform there as a DJ. I was already quite inspired by Japan due to the fact that many of the electronic instruments I was using at the time where designed by Japanese companies. Upon landing in Tokyo I was completely in awe of how high-tech the society was and excited by being in a place that truly felt alien. Everything was different; the language, the way the people looked, the architecture with buildings filled with lights and large scale TV displays. It was as if I had stepped into Blade Runner and journeyed into the future. I immediately fell in love with Japan and wanted to suck in as much of the local culture as possible and that of course started with the local food and drink and soon after I was sitting in a tiny restaurant eating things I had never seen before and enjoying my first taste of real Japanese Sake. Two things struck me about the Sake, the exotic looking 1.8L bottles with strange foreign characters scrawled on them and the delicious elegant taste which was far from the rocket fuel I had tasted in the West AND it was served chilled!?! From that point on I found any way possible to get back to Japan for gigs and slowly started to eat and drink my way through the different cities of Japan, playing music at late night club fueled perfectly my Sake which I found matched perfectly with the heady electronic music that filled my sets.
When I get into something I really get into it! In a similar way to my first experiences in music when I discovered Techno music in Detroit in the late 1980’s I quickly found myself drawn to learn more about Sake. Instead of searching record stores for the next big track or classic out of print records I started hunting for different styles of Sake, learning about tastes and textures and all the while discovering more and more about Japanese cultural.
NR: You say that you were naturally drawn to certain producers. Can you tell us some of the stories behind how you met them and the specific characteristics you look for in your Sake brewers?
RH: The current generation of Sake brewers are about the same age as me and have similar interests and beliefs. We are a generation that has adopted technology as a creative tool to unlock our imagination. I do that through music keyboards and computers to perform and produce music and sounds. The brewers have found new innovative ways to create new styles of Sake introducing technology into their processes to re-imagine a deep cultural tradition. I believe we share this fascination with technology and are all hoping to present new experiences, in sound and flavor. On my travels through Japan I search for these like- minded individuals who hope to bring these new forms of Sake to a wider international audience. One of my brewer friends, Yusuke from Aramasa in Akita was a huge fan of my records under the Plastikman name and we found that we had similar minimalistic approaches to music making and Sake brewing. My approach has also been to bring Sake to the younger clubbing generation who, I believe are open minded and looking for new experiences. This approach has resonated with many young brewers looking to reach beyond the confines of Japan and the historical traditions of Sake.
NR: You have spent the last 20 years developing your knowledge of Sake, you are a professional Sake Sommelier and have been awarded “Sake Samurai” status by the Japanese Sake Brewery Association for your work in promoting Sake abroad. What is your dream for Sake in Europe? Why do you see this drink as having so much potential within a young western market?
RH: When I was taking my Sake sommelier courses in Japan in 2008 I found out that the market for Sake was decreasing in Japan because the young Japanese were looking to western drinks, cocktails & wine, instead of Sake. This had started to result in the closing of breweries throughout Japan, some with hundreds of years of tradition and brewing knowledge. Both of these points struck a chord in me and I was determined to help grow interest and sales for Sake in the international market. I thought that my background in music promotion and marketing would help and I believed if I trusted my taste in Sake like I did with music and musicians I could create l something unique. I also felt that I had an interesting opportunity as I am always in contact with thousands of young open minded electronic music fans who quite often like to drink while attending my shows and concerts. I thought if I put all those things together I might be able to inspire a new generation into the wonderful taste and feeling of Japanese Sake and with a little altruistic luck, help stop any further brewery closings in Japan.
NR: Tell us a little about your collection, your favourite pairings and your recommendations on the different ways Sake can be served and enjoyed.
RH: The ENTER.Sake collection is made up of different styles and grades of Sake. From more rustic Junmai “Black” types to fruitier more elegant Ginjo “Silver” and Daiginjo “Gold” styles. Of course all of our Sake pair well with traditional Japanese food, but I would actually say where the excitement happens is when paired with international cuisine. Food with a lot of Umumi (a deep rich flavor) found often in Italian and Spanish food (mozzarella, bottarga, Jamon, risotto etc) pairs extremely well with Sake and of course fresh fish and rich red meats also combine incredibly well with a nice chilled premium Sake!!! Sake is very low in acidity and therefore doesn’t fight with food as much as trying to find a good wine pairing, so it’s quite easy to experiment and have fun!!
NR: We thoroughly enjoyed the sampling of your curated collection and highly recommend your selections. Will you be adding more new surprises to your collection?
RH: I’m constantly traveling in Japan and discovering new breweries and delicious Sake so I imagine the collection will continue to grow. I think it’s also important to welcome people into this delicious world with our “ENTER” Sake collection and hope to offer new taste adventures as each person goes deeper!!
NH: We wish you the very best with the project and look forward to catching up with any new additions you have in the near future. “Kampai!”
Ibiza’s Cocktail Evolution
Enjoying a cocktail usually entails clinking glasses and sipping on your favourite beverage with friends. Thanks to some radical thinking paired with creative flair, Chef Daniele Poerio of the brand new Chefbar Ibiza, (who has worked internationally with top Michelin chefs and the infamous Gordon Ramsay), alongside owner and cocktail specialist Andrea Grimaz, present a fresh and fun evolution in cocktail experiences that has Ibiza buzzing with compliments. If you are looking for something you have never tried or tasted before…this is it!
Chefbar is the ideal pre-meal start to your evening. It’s a funky and modern affair, with atmospheric lighting, background music and projected visuals to set the scene.
Inspired by the famous culinary techniques of Albert Adria, Chefbar has invented completely unique and delectable edible cocktails to pair with their liquid counterparts, creating the perfect sensation of balance and equality between both.
Chefbar offers a full tasting of all 15 edible cocktails on the menu every Thursday evening. They also offer the full range of “Eating Cocktails” as a unique catering service for special events and the aperitif menu is a perfect choice for wedding nibbles guaranteed to create a stir. The beautifully designed bite-sized “pinxo” examples, offer exactly what you get in the larger “tapas” or full “plato” versions and you can choose your own mini or full-sized cocktails to pair with your selections.
The presentation is elegant and dramatic and is accompanied by magical dry ice volcanoes, tablet sized napkins that magically sprout to full size during the presentation and Chef Daniele’s delightfully humorous, alchemist style service.
Ibiza Party Calendar- August
01/08 – Armin van Buuren and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano at Hi.
02/08 – F*** Me I’m Famous with David Guetta at Pacha
03/08 – Glitterbox with Basement Jaxx at Hi
04/08 – Pure Pacha Paris by Night with Bob Sinclair at Pacha
05/08 – Naked- Woomoon with Chaim at Cova Santa
06/08 – Gangstar with Cathy Guetta at Hi
07/08 – Heart Factory presents The Ritual with Anane & Louie Vega at Heart
08/08 – Cocoon Ibiza with Sven Vath at Pacha
09/08 – Afterlife with Tale of Us & Modeselektor at Hi
10/08 – Be Crazy with Jean Claude Ades at Heart
11/08 – Antz with Luciano at Ushuaia
12/08 – Solomun+1 with Dubfire at Pacha
13/08 – Flower Power with Sergio Vicedo at Pacha
14/08 – Together with Chase & Status at Amnesia
15/08 – Namaste at Las Dalias
16/08 – Afterlife with Tale of Us & Carl Craig at Hi
17/08 – Hot Since 82-A Labyrinth Story with Maya Jane Coles at Pacha
18/08 – Black Coffee with Housekeeping & Lauren Lane at Hi
19/08 – Woomoon with Blond:ish at Cova Santa
20/08 – Kygo with ALOK at Ushuaia
21/08 – Resistance with Carl Cox and John Digweed B2B with Sasha at Privilege
22/08 – Namaste at Las Dalias
23/08 – Martin Garrix with at Ushuaia
24/08 – Children of the 80’s with La Bouche at Hard Rock Hotel
25/08 – Pop You Up with Tommy Vee B2B Mauro Ferrucci & Barbara Tucker at Blue Marlin
26/08 – Naked-Woomoon with Rico Loop at Cova Santa
27/08 – Flower Power with Eric Morillo at Pacha
28/08 – Tomorrowland Presents Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike-Garden of Madness at Ushuaia
29/08 – Namaste at Las Dalias
30/08 – Afterlife with Tale of Us & Ben Klock at Hi
31/08 – Shadows with Magdalena & Adana Twins at Blue Marlin
For more details, please contact Calum Yacht Services Ibiza.