Sippin’ Sake

written by Michelle Slater 30th June 2015


There’s just something about sushi and cocktails. Next time you’re tucking into a platter for two, see if you can convince the bartender to whip up one of these sake infused cocktails.

• 30ml orange-infused vodka
• 85ml junmai sake
• 15ml Cointreau liqueur
• Orange slice, for garnish


1. Combine ingredients in a
shaker with ice.
2. Shake and strain into a
martini glass.
3. Garnish with orange slice.

• 60ml Sake
• 30ml peach schnapps
• 40ml orange juice
• 40ml cranberry juice
• ice cubes

1. Measure the sake, peach
schnapps, orange juice and
cranberry juice into a cocktail
2. Add a generous scoop of ice.
3. Shake until the container is
frosty, about 30 seconds.
4. Strain into a cocktail glass &
serve immediately.


• 1 1/2 cups saké
• 1 bottle chilled ginger ale
• 2 teaspoons Angostura bitters,
• 4 lime slices

1. In a pitcher combine the saké,
ginger ale and bitters.
2. Add the lime slices.
3. Serve the drink in tall glasses
46. filled with ice.

One could say sake is to the Japanese what whisky is to the Scots. Dating back thousands of years, sake is a widely respected and integral part of Japanese culture, with its origins rooted in spiritual practice. While we have come to embrace and frequently indulge in Japanese cuisine over the years, this drink still remains somewhat of a mystery.

Sake, pronounced ‘Sah-keh’, is considered Japan’s national drink and is widely consumed during special occasions or simply over a meal. Made from rice, water, yeast and mold known as Koji, sake is brewed like beer but often likened to wine. Over time, traditional sake recipes have been refined with many displaying a wide spectrum of tasting notes that pair perfectly with sushi and the earthy spices typical of Japanese cuisine.


Just as grapes are used to make wine, specialized rice is used to brew sake, with over 100 strains availed to brewers. The particular rice rain selected is carefully polished to remove all impurities; the more polished, the more superior the drink. Sake made using less polished rain has a more earthy, robust flavor. This is common of table sake, known as Futsushu. Premium sake on the other hand boasts a more elegant, fragrant and clean finish. Junmai, Ginjo and Daiginjo fall into this category, with tasting notes ranging from light and floral to tropical and fruity. The distinct flavors and aromas are also heavily influenced by the choice of yeast used in the brewing process.

A commonly asked question is the temperature at which this drink is best enjoyed. The answer depends on the quality of sake, season and personal preference. Sake, like wine, displays a range of colourful characteristics at different temperatures and is typically served in a decanter type flask known as Tokkuri. Due to each sake having its own optimum temperature, it’s always best to inquire when ordering. It is generally most enjoyable at room temperature as this allows you to nose and taste a wide range of characteristics of the drink. If served too hot or too cold, the true flavors intended by the brewer are masked.


You’ll find that most venues in Nairobi serve their sake warm but most premium sake is now commonly served chilled and makes for a delicate, refreshing partner to one’s meal. Be sure to ask around next time you step out and take pleasure in discovering the beautiful nuances of this Japanese drink for yourself! Cheers…or as the Japanese say, Kanpai!


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