The Great Toronto Cocktail Challenge: Hime
In Japanese Hime (him-may) means princess, but isn't generally used to refer to the daughter of the king. That term is Ojo, which means exactly that — daughter of the king. Hime is used much the same way princess is used hereto refer to someone young and precious and beautiful. It's a compliment.
It's also the name of one of Hideki Saito's — owner and operator of Black Dice on Dundas West — twin baby girls born just 14 days ago (the other is Sakura, which means cherry blossom). She's named after Saito's grandmother, a woman who also inspired the name of one of his signature Sake based cocktails, naturally the Hime.
This Hime uses Sake as its base, along with plum wine and peach schnapps. The result is something sweet, but not sugary — and dangerously easy to drink.
Hime - 2.5oz, $7.50
Top notes - 7/10
For those who've never paid Black Dice a visit, it's a 1950s inspired rockabilly bar by way of Tokyo; a refreshingly low-key place that does the enviable job of perfectly executing a theme without being hokey. It's dead on golden age, rock n' roll Americana with a Japanese twist. There's an excellent selection of sake, Japanese whiskey, Shochu (like a Japanese vodka, but not really) as well as a great selection of bottled beer. But the real treat are his Hideki's sake cocktails, and the one to rule them all is the Hime.
It's a pale green drink served straight up in a martini cocktail glass and garnished with a coil of lime rind. It's smart, stylish and totally different from any other cocktail in town, just like the bar.
The Back End - 8/10
The flavour isn't entirely foreign, but it still comes off as unique (if that makes sense). Unlike many other fine cocktail on this list and beyond, it's a drink that's transformed by the sum of its parts. The taste doesn't necessarily give you sake, plum, peach and lime flavours. What you get is the Hime, this new delicious thing that goes down like grape juice. I want to call it adult Kool-Aid, but just in the sense that if you are an adult you will love it. But Kool-Aid is too cheap a name for the Hime, despite its marvelous drinkability, there is still depth to its flavour.
The drink is a testament to the bar and vice versa, they work together in a common theme and I wouldn't want either without the other.
Finish - 8/10
What more can be said, great bar, great drink, great times--just go. The only thing I might consider changing is that since none of the ingredients are super-duper boozy, there's no reason this needs to be served short as a martini. I'd throw it in a Collins glass with some ice and maybe a touch of seltzer, garnish it with a cherry blossom and rename it the Sakura Hime — wouldn't mamma be proud?
Total Score: 23/30 (76%)
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