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Apr 06, 2023

Why Sake Is A Great Cocktail Ingredient


Last update: May 15, 2023 -

3 min read


When you want a base alcohol for a cocktail, you will probably think of gin, vodka or whisky in the first instance. However, a less common choice such as sake can make a refreshing change and expand your palate and cocktail making horizons. Here’s a look at the benefits that sake has to offer.


What is sake?

Sake is an alcoholic drink made from fermented rice and was traditionally produced in Japan. For this reason it is also sometimes called Japanese rice wine, although it is more akin to beer in the way that it is produced. It has a long history of being produced in East Asian regions, and more recently has become popular around the world.

There are two main categories of sake, and many sub-categories. Futsū-shu is a more everyday beverage and is the most commonly produced. Tokutei meishō-shu is more of a premium variety and generally has a stronger alcohol percentage. The higher quality is achieved by using rice that is more highly polished.


What does sake taste like?

Sake can vary from sweet to dry in flavour depending on the alcohol content. It generally has subtle flavours such as overtones of herbs, spices, fruits, nuts, and flowers. It is not too dissimilar from the varieties of flavours found in white wine. It can be served at room temperature, chilled, or even hot.

Its delicate yet intricate flavour makes it an ideal cocktail ingredient, particularly for pairing with Japanese food such as sushi. Here are just a few ideas.


For Goodness Sake

This is probably fun to make for the name alone, but fortunately it also tastes great! It’s made with sake, pickled ginger juice, lime juice, and simple syrup. The balance of sweet and citrus flavours and hint of ginger make for a satisfyingly complex yet refreshing combination.


Kyoto Sour

This cocktail contains an unusual combination of green Tabasco sauce and grapefruit, plus lemon juice, agave nectar, and Gekkeikan Haiku sake, a premium variety with a fresh and slightly fruity flavour. This is complemented by the spiciness of the Tabasco sauce muddled with lime juice.

The ingredients are shaken with ice until well chilled and strained into an ice-filled cocktail glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and grapefruit slice and enjoy.



This cocktail is made from vodka, sake, and bianco vermouth. It is also sometimes made with gin and the sake can completely replace the vermouth.

It’s super simple to make, as the ingredients are stirred together with ice in a tall glass and strained into a pre-chilled martini or coupe glass and garnished with a cucumber slice. An easy way to enjoy a twist on the classic martini.



For an authentic and beautifully presented taste of Japan, this is the perfect cocktail. It pays homage to Japan’s famous cherry blossom trees. It’s made with Hakkaisan sake, sakura liqueur, lemon juice, and kirsch from Griotte cherries.

The ingredients are mixed with ice and strained into a sake glass, and the kirsch is floated on top of the drink to give an attractive deep pink colour. Garnish with a cherry and sakura flower.


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