On June 15 food ratings gatherer and collaborative tasting community Joios (pronounced “joyous) held a private tasting party at Matsunosuke, a Japanese dessert shop in Greenwich Village, featuring the barley shochu brand Mizunomai. Dubbed “Pancakes and Shochu,” the event gave press and food industry folks the opportunity to taste four pairings of Matsunosuke owner Akiko Hirano’s Japanese chiffon pancakes and shochu cocktails created by New York City mixologists and prepared by Ippudo bartender Christian Dominguez under the supervision of Mizunomai co-owner Jesse Falowitz.
Before the tasting guests enjoyed a light and refreshing welcome beverage called “Grapefruit Sawa,” made with ruby red grapefruit, Mizu Shochu, and Aperol. Then it was time to savor four pancakes and four cocktails.
Azuki Pancake – Red bean, whipped cream, and matcha powder
“Mrs. Takano” – Matcha green tea, Mizu Shochu, condensed milk, Framboise, and Cognac by Karen Lin
I loved this pair. While the pancake is thick, it is quite light and fluffy. The matcha in the cocktail complemented the azuki beautifully.
Banana Caramel Pancake – Sliced bananas with caramel sauce drizzle and whipped cream
“Floating World” – Vanilla soy milk, Mizu Shochu, apple syrup, Bacardi, soy sauce, black sesame by Satoru Tsubamoto
I’m not a huge fan of caramel, but this pancake was divine. The cocktail was too heavy on the liquor, and it was my least favorite of the event.
Sausage Pancake – Sliced sausages topped with sour cream and chives
“The Miko Cocktail” – Mizu Shochu, kumquat infused syrup, Yamazaki 12-year-old whisky, creme de cacao, and honey topped with mint and flamed orange by Becky McFalls
I’m originally from the South, so I expected the sour cream and chives to be gravy instead, but I wasn’t disappointed. The blend of sweet and savory, further enhanced by the sweetness of the cocktail, made my favorite pairing of the day.
Fresh Berries Pancake – Fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries topped with whipped cream
“Fujiyama” – Mizu Shochu, apple and spice syrup, lemon juice by Christian Dominguez
The pancake was nice, but there was no Wow! factor; it didn’t knock me out like the other three did. Fujiyama is what I’d call the perfect summer cocktail.
Go to Matsunosuke for the light and fluffy pancakes, but you won’t find the cocktails there. The sweets shop doesn’t have a liquor license; this event was strictly an introduction to what Matsunosuke and Mizunomai have to offer. The event showed the range and versatility of shochu as well as Hirano’s creativity. Pancakes and Shochu was a Joios pairing that opened a window to the possibilities of sweets with shochu that should be explored.