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Posted May 5, 2012 by samuek in Uncategorized

Sake Stories – Mixing It Up With Nishan of Blowfish

Check out Blowfish Toronto at Kampai Toronto Sake Festival May 31, 2012


If you have not heard of the name Nishan Nepulongoda, then you are in for a treat.  The Sri Lanken born mixologist is one of the top names in the mixology world, winning countless competitions and is responsible for one of the most interesting sake cocktail menus in the city.

You can find Nishan at either the King or Bay street locations of the Zark Fatah destination that is Blowfish.  Known for its style, scene and of course a culinary list of detectible Pan-Asian fusion and “from scratch” cocktails, Nishan has been responsible for converting many a patron into sake lovers.

I sat with Nishan and asked about his journey with Japanese sake and also taste some of his legendary cocktails.  He shares that when he came to Blowfish in 2006, the sake cocktails all had exotic names, leaving customers to guess what they would get.  His first change was to make sake cocktails more approachable by naming them by their ingredients, like their popular Ginger Grapefruit Saketini boasting sake, Bombay Sapphire, Cointreau, ginger and fresh grapefruit juice.

Here is Nishan showing us how to make the Ginger Grapefruit Saketini.  The sound is competing with the ambient noise a bit.  I will try to figure out a way to clean up the audio.

As a mixologist, Nishan explains that sake is a wonderful drink to pair with food and a perfect base for cocktails.  In his creations, he feels sake is mellow and mild, balancing out the taste profile.

I wondered how the sake scene has changed from 2006 when Nishan first came to Blowfish.  He explains that when his journey began, selection was scarce, but the demand was there.  Blowfish was touted as a sake bar, so customers came demanding new experiences and education.  For those who were curious yet did not want to venture directly into sake, his offering was the craft saketini.  Using familiar ingredients to deliver the message he would stimulate curiosity around sake. Another strategy he employs is ensuring each saketini has a known brand of spirit like Bombay Sapphire or Cointreau to show familiarity.

Once they enjoy one of his beautiful saketinis, all crafted with house made ingredients, their curiosity is piqued.  Then introducing customers to a daiginjo grade sake, is just a natural progression.  Now, Blowfish has a good mix of customers asking for both high quality, top tier sake and delightful saketinis. I have tasted their saketinis and I can tell you they are complex and balanced.

With Blowfish customers enjoying sake over everything from power lunches and first dates to friends sharing stories, I asked Nishan to summarize his thoughts about sake?  “It is a drink for sharing stories, for communication, friendship and openness.”  Well, we talked about much more then sake over his saketinis and I left feeling like old friends.

Check out Blowfish on Bay, May 9 2012 for an intimate event with the president of the Yoshi No Gawa company.  He is coming from Japan to share his beautiful sake with us, share stories and enjoy some great food.  Check the link for more details.

You can also find Blowfish sharing their food amongst 100+ different types of sake at the inaugural year of Kampai Toronto, in the Distillery District May 31, 2012.

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