Browsing through the ANA airline magazine on recent flight to Tokyo, I came upon an article on new trends. Topics included the new Robot Café in Akiba, Shibuya street fashions and the mass resurgence of Ninja Turtle and Bart Simpson self-manufactured apparel and Smartphone linked seat cushions at your favorite eating establishments. All brilliant and intriguing, yet one new drink item located at a tiny boutique shop in the opulent Ginza district pushed my curiosity to the edge. Imagine an iced latte beverage mixed with your favorite fruit flavored vinegar served in a fancy little flute.
As a Westerner the idea of heavy dairy combined with vinegar curdles in the stomach a bit, but only for a moment as the known track record of Japanese goodies and products is undoubtedly stellar. Located at the 1st floor of Mitsukoshi facing Chuo Dori and a short walk from the Ginza metro station (Hibiya or Ginza Line), stands the Osuya Ginza Vinegar shop, whipping up fruity vinegar laden cocktails, iced coffee beverages, ice cream and dessert vinegar tastings. Brought to you by the Uchibori company which produces this popular range of drinkable fruit infused vinegars, they continue to successfully capitalize on the noted health benefits of drinking vinegar. Believed to cure and prevent ailments of the stomach, flush out toxins and maintain general wellness, it is also a resurgence of a trend that existed for thousands of years in China. Therefore, all connoisseurs take the art of ingesting vinegar quite seriously. Before sipping, it’s nosed and swirled around the glass like a fine wine perhaps to stimulate those healing enzymes and enhance the various flavor profiles like orange, juniper berry, plum, lemon and shikuwasa (Okinawan lime juice) just to name a few.
The vinegar can be served hot, cold, blended or straight and is dispensed from classy draft pulls made of brass. Mix with milk for a tart iced latte or mix into sparkling wine. The best part is watching the warmed vinegar cascade over soft cream, a scoop of ice cream or yogurt. The blueberry vinegar iced latte had an added tang and lacked the acidity that one would expect. The latte title is only an illusion as there is no added espresso or coffee, it’s more an excuse to swirl milk with vinegar, but it works on many levels. Try their new store items, hot apple vinegar soft cream (seasonal) and Chinese black vinegar, revered as a tonic to promote energy and reduce bad cholesterol, with infused strawberries or blackberries. Osuya is more of a to-go order establishment, with only a few spots to sit along the back wall with a perfect “people watching” view of shoppers along Chuo Dori. If you are in Ginza, feeling bold and craving a refreshment, try it, then tell everyone back home that you did.