Sake (酒), as a highly popular drink in Japan, needs certain elements to be correctly served. One of these is the vessel which plays a major role in sake’s quality and taste. It also gives different textures and aromas to the drink. Most of the time, sake vessels are ceramic, but you can also find some that are made of wood, glass, or even plastic. Some of these are sold individually, while others are sold in a set. The thing that you should keep in mind when purchasing a vessel is the capacity, shape, and the width of the cup mouth. Here are 4 beautiful vessels that you can use if you’d like to enjoy drinking sake at its finest taste.
An ochoko is a small cylindrical cup that normally measures 3 to 6 cm in diameter. If you’d like to pour a little bit of sake into a cup, then this is the right vessel for you. It can hold up to 45 ml of liquid and is actually the perfect size if you’d like to experience sipping alcoholic drinks. It comes in a variety of shapes and materials which can alter the taste of sake. It is said that thin materials enhance the sake flavor while wide-brimmed cups enhance the sake’s aroma.
Ochoko is also considered synonymous with the drinking culture of Japan. In Japanese traditional business settings, serving sake in small cups is seen as a norm. Having an ochoko filled with alcohol symbolizes a person’s status and also keeps the bosses jolly. It also fits perfectly as a symbol for teamwork as well as the sharing culture in the country. For a small serving style in sipping your sake, ochoko is your best friend.
Masu is a square-shaped wooden vessel which has been designed centuries ago. It was originally used in measuring rice and sake before but is now largely used as a vessel for drinking sake in Japan. This is rarely used at home and is commonly seen in occasions or festivals and is also thought to remove negative vibes. If you go to restaurants these days, you’ll rarely see masu with sake alone, instead a glass is placed in the masu which overflows with the alcoholic drink.
Some people follow a certain tradition of placing salt on one of the corners of the masu. This accentuates the sweetness of the sake mixed with the gentle aroma of the wood. Japanese cedar was originally used for the masu, but these days, Japanese cypress is used instead due to its beautiful color and better aroma. Japanese cypress is actually a common material in the country as it is also used in making chopping boards, temples, shrines, and the like.
Another wooden vessel to try is the shuki (酒器) which helps a lot in cases when the sake you have isn’t fragrant or doesn’t suit your taste. The wood’s aroma mixes well with the sake’s flavor. This is recommended for people who just started drinking sake or who aren’t fans of dry liquor.
This is probably the oldest style of sake cup. Sakazuki has a wide mouth and is a ceremonial favorite. The cup requires both hands in order to lift into the mouth. One hand is at the bottom, while the other one is on one side. It is also convenient for having a few sips of any alcoholic beverages.
Sakazuki is usually made of porcelain but there are also some which are made of glass, silver, gold, lacquer, or earthenware. It is available in a number of sizes and comes with beautiful embellishments.
There are also common practices followed when it comes to using the sakazuki cup. You have to pour for the other person first, then accept his offer to do the same. This practice showcases the value of hospitality among Japanese people. It also demonstrates the need to be understanding towards each other.
As mentioned earlier, glass is commonly used to drink sake and is placed in a masu until sake overflows. Other than that, using glass to enjoy this alcoholic drink is also a good way to enjoy the flavor though it is not traditional. It is also great for drinking high-ranked, cold, and delicate sake in order to enjoy subtle flavors. Glass also allows the drinker to see the color of the drink which adds up to the total enjoyment of sake.
Chilled sake is great with wine glasses. If you want to drink sake in a glass that you can easily hold, you can try the flute glass, also known as champagne flutes. This allows different flavors of sake, from mild to strong ones, to be enjoyed. In the past, carbonated sake became popular which made the flute glass a sought-after vessel by people. These are also beautiful decorations during parties.
Though there are many different vessels for you to enjoy when drinking sake, it is best to use traditional vessels if you want an authentic vibe. On the other hand, you may use a stemware if you want to fully enjoy the aroma and taste of sake.
Also, take note that you shouldn’t heat sake above room temperature unless it is of poor quality. Too much heat may mask the real taste of sake rather than the intended taste of the brewer. Traditionally, it was served warm, but nowadays most premium sake tastes great when chilled. Once you open a sake bottle, it is advisable to consume it within 2 to 3 hours. If you won’t be able to finish it, you can store it in the refrigerator.
The type of vessel that you want to use for sake will totally depend on you and on the type of occasion. The warmness and coolness of the drink also depend on personal preferences. So to enjoy sake at its best, why not consider these 4 beautiful vessels which are suitable for any occasion whether you’ve been drinking sake for years or just a starter.