The Japanese love vending machines - even for sake, which is dispensed in tall glass cups that are ready to drink.
For those accustomed to sake served reverently in ceramic carafes or expensive larger bottles, the many fine examples of these 200-milliliter "cup" servings available at coZara - some wrapped in cartoony labels paying homage to animé - are a fun way to explore a variety of sakes with a pop culture sensibility suited to an izakaya.
Most intriguing were a trio from Kikusui that come in vinyl-lined cans, which allows these undiluted sakes - each a heady 19 percent alcohol - to remain unpasteurized. That translates to exceptionally vivid flavors and rich textures, especially in the red-canned Jukusei.
Aged a year, this surprisingly full-bodied brew has the subtle sweetness of green melons, and a finish of anise and mint that is perfect for dishes with spice.
- Craig LaBan
Kikisui Funaguchi Jukusei sake, $21 for a 6.7-oz. can, coZara, 3200 Chestnut St., 267-233-7488.