Sake is a Japanese beverage (you probably already knew that part) dating back thousands of years. Most people think of it as analogous to wine, but it's honestly closer to beer in terms of production:
- Rice is harvested in the form of grain
- The rice grains are milled, polished, and steamed.
- A microbe -- koji -- is introduced, breaking the rice down into glucose.
- The result is fermented for a few weeks, then filtered and diluted to around 16% ABV.
There are many varieties of sake depending on a number of factors:
- the amount of filtering done
- the amount of post-fermentation aging
- the polish and processing of the rice kernels
- the quality and temperature of the water
Sake is traditionally served chilled (neat) or at room temperature -- or, of course, in a lovely cocktail.