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jeudi 9 mai 2019

Bartenders Tell Us Their Favorite Sakes For Spring Sipping

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Many people have heard of sake or tried it at one point. But just as many of us probably have no idea what sake actually is or how it’s made. We’ve just let it be a fun part of a night out.

“Maybe you had it that one time from a squeeze bottle at Benihana. Or you dropped it in your beer and screamed, ‘Sake Sake Sake, bomb bomb bomb.’ Great times,” Chris Johnson, Board Member of The Joy of Sake, says. “Sake, made from rice, water, yeast and koji, provides an amazing variety of flavors, textures and experiences in one cup.”

So what exactly is it? Technically, sake is a rice wine as it’s a fermented beverage. And as such, it’s one of the oldest fermented beverages in history. It’s been made for around 2,000 years. That’s a lot years of being a delicious treat. And whether you sip it by itself or mix it into a dope cocktail, sake is the perfect drink for spring. So, we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their go-to sakes for spring and summer sipping.

Akashi Sake

Sake Akashi

Sean Stangle, bartender at Estiatorio Milos in Las Vegas

“My current favorite brand of Sake is Akashi, brewed in Hyogo. This product speaks to me because the brewery is considered one of the most traditional of breweries, and being one the older family owned, they’ve recently started distilling whiskey a few months of the year as well. The brewery’s proximity to the coast and the fact that the sake is stored in Japanese cedar means that the sea air gently affects the mouth feel and texture of the beverage when enjoyed.”

Banzai Bunny Sparkling Sake

Banzai Beverage co.

Casey Lyons, lead bartender at Pacific Hideaway in Huntington Beach, California

“I am guilty of using Blue Bunny Sparkling Sake in nearly too many cocktails. I love using it for its crisp bubbles, dry mouthfeel with subtle sweetness. Both of their Blueberry and Peach Flavors are nearly alcoholic candy.”

Hakkaisan Tokubetsu Junmai


Alex Schmaling, head bartender of Beacon Tavern in Chicago

“I’m no sake expert, but I’ve always loved the Tokubetsu Junmai from Otokoyama, which means “Man’s Mountain.” It’s fruity, round, almost totally dry, refreshing, and clean. Delicious, even if you’re a novice to the category (like me).”

Wakatake Onikoroshi Sake


Cody Goldstein, bartender at The Flying Cock in New York City

“My favorite sake right now is Wakatake Onikoroshi Sake (Junmai Daiginjo). This sake has really great notes of pineapple and papaya that pair really well with a light, fresh seafood dish. I always recommend serving this sake ice cold, and following tradition by pouring your guests’ glasses first.”

Rihaku Junmai


Michael Rutherford, general manager at International Smoke in San Diego

“What’s your favorite sake (with brand) and why? I enjoy many unfiltered Nigori-style sakes – a favorite is Rihaku Junmai with a balanced flavor profile and great aroma.”

Ninki-ichi Sparkling Sake

Ninki-ichi Sparkling Sake

Andrew Erickson, bartender at L27 in Nashville

“My Favorite sake style is sparkling sake. With its approachable flavor profile and mouth feel anyone can enjoy this sake, even first-time sake drinkers. Ninki-ichi sparkling sake is my personal favorite that I have ever tried. It has floral notes upfront, and stone fruit throughout the palate. I suggest drinking this with a starter course or pouring it over raspberry sorbet.”

Kikusui Funaguchi Red


Lacy Hawkins, brand ambassador of Monkey 47 Gin

“I really like Kikusui Funaguchi ‘Red’ because it has been aged for a year and has a bold, ricey, yeasty flavor. Love grabbing a couple cans of this and enjoying it in the park with a picnic on a sunny day.”

Maboroshi Junmai Ginjo


Jason O’Bryan, spirits director at The Florence in San Diego

“My favorite right now is the ‘Mystery’ Junmai Ginjo from Maboroshi. I increasingly find that what I want out of sake is light, dry, focused, and clean, and this has all of that, plus lovely melon/apple flavors that keep me coming back.”

Tyku Sake

Tyku Sake

Josh Cameron, head bartender at Boulton & Watt in New York City

“Definitely Tyku. They were my first introduction to the sake world and, Gnarles Barkley aside, I have a soft spot for green, battery powered light up bottles.”

Sake Dewazakura


Maggie Dandrea, bartender at Hot Tin in New Orleans

“Sake Dewazakura Oka Cherry Bouquet is a favorite of mine. A subtle elegance encompasses a larger, delicate mouth feel. A true classic, always satisfying.”

Gekkeikan Black & Gold


Alex Vines, bartender at Fulton Alley in New Orleans

“What’s my favorite sake brand and why? Gekkeikan Black & Gold would be my favorite sake because it doesn’t have a bad rice wine aftertaste.”


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