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Learn How To Drink Sake from a Japanese Master Chef

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Learn How To Drink Sake from a Japanese Master Chef

Learn How To Drink Sake from a Japanese Master Chef: The Japanese have been brewing and consuming sake, a sort of rice wine made from fermented rice, for more than 2,500 years. Throughout that period, sake has become as Japanese as rice itself; a distinctively dry beverage used to commemorate important events or enjoy a peaceful night with friends, complete with its own rituals, customs, and laws. It might be clear, hazy, or strong—and similarly, it can be consumed in a variety of ways. Here are some pointers on how to drink sake.

In order to learn how to drink sake there are a few considerations. First, sake can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature, depending on the type. To show respect, pour sake for others and hold the small ceramic sake cups with two hands. Sake can be enjoyed alone or with Japanese food, especially sushi. To sample the variety of flavours and styles, try a sake flight. Drink responsibly and moderately with any alcoholic beverage.

Learn How To Drink Sake

Sake is traditionally served in one of two ways: in a short transparent glass or in a square wooden cup known as a masu cup. Masu cups were originally tiny square wooden boxes used to measure rice servings in mediaeval Japan. Most masu is cleverly constructed from hinoki or cedarwood, which naturally has antibacterial characteristics that help keep food and drink fresh. Masu is now lidless and was originally used to drink sake on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings. Because sake is typically fermented in wooden barrels, the wooden masu cup is thought to complement it. Additionally, they have a woodsy, clean aroma and may be used as a container for the shot glass or as a cup on their own.

In the majority of sake parties, glass is put within the masu cup, over which the host pours sake until it cascades like a waterfall into the masu. The overflowing is a gesture of compassion and generosity on the part of the host to demonstrate their gratitude for your acquaintance (or, in a restaurant setting, for your business). Additionally, it serves as a little gesture of celebration, lifting the spirits and allowing one to appreciate one’s current condition of life.

Sake Drinking Tips

Observing the sake overflow and being unsure if it would topple over creates a lovely moment of tension during which time appears to be a virtual standstill. By establishing this moment of suspension, this ritual keeps your attention focused entirely on the gorgeous sake waterfall. And, like with any ritual, ceremonies are governed by regulations.

  • When drinking with other people, the sake should always be poured for you, and vice versa.
  • Sake may be consumed from either vessel, however, it is most often consumed from both.
  • Sake, like wine, should be consumed gently.
  • Taking a shot of sake is comparable to drinking merlot.

While sake may be consumed cold or warm, consuming it hot degrades the alcohol’s inherent complexity. Thus, gradually warm, but never to the point of burning.

Sake Drinking Methods

If drinking straight from the masu, hold the cup diagonally towards you with your hands on two opposing corners, so that a third corner faces directly towards you.  Keep the cup near to your face and inhale the sake’s scent, which will be faintly tinted with the aroma of fresh cedar. Tip back and take a little drink, letting it linger for a while in your mouth before swallowing.

If you’re merely using a masu to prop up an overflowing sake glass, dip your head low and drink straight from the glass, crane-style while leaving the masu cup and its components on the table. As the contents of the glass begin to deplete, you may take it up and pour the remaining sake either the glass cup or the wooden masu, depending on which vessel you want to drink from.

Apart from drinking sake from a masu cup, there are other popular drinking methods that are worth exploring.

Sake Pyramid Stack

Pyramid Stack

The sake pyramid is a common ceremony at toasts. It consists of an even number of masu cups put one on top of the other in the form of a pyramid (the number represents one for each person at the event). Prior to the toast, the host will pour a bottle of sake over the tip of the pyramid, first filling the top cup and then continuing to pour until the sake overflows and flows into the other cups on the base. The concept here is similar to that of overflowing hospitality: just as the top cup feeds the ones below, the host shares his joy and generosity with his guests.

Izakaya Style Sake

Izakaya Style

Apart from the sake pyramid stack, there is also the “Izakaya Style,” often likened to taverns or pubs which involves drinking sake from a small ochoko cup and pairing it with small plates of food known as izakaya. Izakaya is a type of Japanese gastropub that serves a variety of small dishes to accompany drinks. This method is perfect for those who want to experience the traditional Japanese drinking culture and sample different types of sake with complementary dishes. The extensive menu selection and leisurely pace of izakaya dining can be intimidating to non-Japanese and the easiest way to learn how to drink sake.

Kanpai Style

Kanpai Style

The “Kanpai” style of drinking sake is another common way that people enjoy drinking sake. The “Kanpai” style is a common toast that is used during celebrations in Japan. People will typically raise their glasses and yell “Kanpai!” before drinking, which is similar to the way that cheers are done in western culture. It is a sign of respect to wait for everyone to receive their drink before beginning the toast, as this is considered proper etiquette. This style of drinking sake is excellent for commemorating significant life events or any other kind of momentous occasion.a texture that is thicker.



Lastly, “Nigori-zake” distinctive methods of drinking sake which involves drinking unfiltered sake. This style of sake is opaque and has a cloudy appearance due to the presence of rice sediment. Nigori-zake has a unique flavor and is typically sweeter and creamier compared to other types of sake. This makes it an ideal choice for those who prefer a full-bodied sake. Nigori-zake can be served chilled and its cloudy appearance adds an element of visual interest to the drinking experience. Overall, Nigori-zake is a great choice for those looking to try something different and enjoy a unique twist on traditional sake.

In conclusion, sake is a versatile beverage that can be enjoyed in various ways, from drinking it from a masu cup to trying it at an izakaya. To learn how to drink sake using the various drinking methods adds to its charm, and the traditional rituals associated with it make for a unique drinking experience. Whether you are looking to celebrate a special occasion or want to try something new, sake is a perfect choice for any occasion.

Learn more about Sake at or view our Sake Cup Collection.

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