Sake is synonymous with Japanese culture and is the country’s national drink made from rice. It is interconnected with the people’s beliefs, traditions, way of thinking and way of life. It also makes the perfect companion for so many Japanese dishes, providing balance and harmony. If you’re planning on staying in Tokyo, you should try these three stylish bars in the city which promise to leave you with the fondest, if not slightly blurry, memories of the rich aromas of sake.
This sake-style bar was opened in Ginza (銀座) in 2011. It was the first bar in the world devoted to sake-based cocktails. You can even find dishes that contain sake. However, instead of drinking sake in the usual sake cups or ceramic ware, here they will offer you wine glasses to serve up your sake-based beverages.
This elegant bar offers sake from seven breweries from around the country such as Tsukasa Botan (司牡丹), Ichinokura (一ノ蔵), Kato Kahachiro (加藤嘉八郎), Sakai (酒井), Yoshinogawa (吉乃川), Bunraku (文楽) and Imanishi Seibee Shoten (今西清兵衛商店). There are seven rooms in the bar, each of which represents a different brewery. Delicious appetizers from the brewery’s regions are served alongside the drinks to compliment the different tastes of the sake. There are also private rooms if you’d like that bit of extra space to yourselves.
Akaoni 39 is a premium sake pub in Sangenjaya (三軒茶屋). Around 100 types of sake can be tasted in this establishment, which was first opened in 1982 when sake was still considered a drink exclusively for the older generations. The bar specializes in unrefined and unpasteurized sake.
One of the favorites is Kameizumi (亀泉) which is a fragrant, fruity and sweet sake. This drink is generally preferred served cold to prevent the sweetness from overpowering the taste. Another popular brand of sake served at Akaoni 39 is Kozaemon (小左衛門), which comes from Nakashima Brewery (中島醸造) in Gifu Prefecture (岐阜県). This kind of sake is clean and clear. It is believed that playing music while the alcohol undergoes fermentation helps the process. As such, the brewery plays hip-hop music in order to create the highest quality produce.
This is a popular standing bar in Shinjuku which is well-known among sake lovers. Though the space is quite small, it evokes a homely atmosphere. With a capacity of around 15 people, this is a good quiet adults’ hideaway with a U-shaped counter under the cosy lighting.
The bar has a chic vibe thanks to the names of different sake brands written all over the glass walls. As well as famous sake brands such as Kiyasho Shuzo (木屋正酒造), there is an impressive variety of rare brands on the menu. However, they aren’t all listed on the menu so be sure to ask the bar manager if you have a special request or you’re in need of a recommendation.
This bar is a popular one with a lot of regulars so don’t be surprised if you find yourself queueing to get a seat. When you’re finally inside, you’ll appreciate your wait as the delicious sake along with the friendly staff and fun customers makes this a unique experience.
With the growing popularity of sake nationally and internationally, it can be hard to know which sake bar is worth hunting down. If you’re on the lookout for deep sake flavors with a rich aroma, be sure to head to one of these three stylish bars in Tokyo. There are many types of sake to choose from that are certainly worth the trip!
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