Surprisingly for a city that loves to drink, sake has been one tipple a little slow to catch on. And really it’s a huge shame considering there are some elegant and well-stocked bars sake bars in London to expand your knowledge of this complex and yet easily enjoyed Japanese drink. Marie Teather finds five of the best.
Not strictly ‘sake,’ but sake meaning ‘alcohol’ in Japanese means that shochu easily fits the bill. Shochu is a Japanese drink made from barley, sweet potato, or rice. It is also the specialty of the aptly named Shochu Lounge, the basement bar of trendy Japanese joint Roka.
Expect a laid back vibe in this modem lounge bar and an extensive list of shochu-based cocktails including the tempting Plum Plum, a heady mix of shochu and plum vodka.
Roka, 37 Charlotte Street , London, W1T 1RR
020 7580 9666
The Sake Bar and Lounge
The Sake Bar and Lounge is located within Zuma and offers over 40 types of sake, along with an impressive range of cocktails made with freshly prepared fruit juices.
Tucked away in this revered restaurant, means you can do like the Japanese do and make friends with the barman and your fellow drinkers while making your way through a variety of sake textures and taste.
5 Raphael Street, London, SW7 1DL
020 7584 1010
Sake no Hana
The lounge bar tucked away in Sake no Hana’s sleek interior offers an elegant and intimate space. The bar houses a range of Japanese inspired cocktails, and an extensive sake list. Plus of course every Japanese’s favourite draft beer: Asahi.
The bar menu includes a range of small dishes such as the king crab and rice cracker croquettes, broad bean karaage, and char-grilled teriyaki chicken wings and a great selection of tempura and yakitori plates. A great and discrete place to get a taster of all things Japanese.
23 St. James’s Street, London, SW1A 1HA
020 7925 8988
Ok this is not exclusively a Japanese restaurant and those who know Asian food for its regional differences will probably groan at the thought of a huge Asian fusion menu. But bear with me. Gilgamesh does in fact house a great selection of sakes.
Take a seat in the Babylon Lounge Bar with its back-to-back booth seating, retro styled hanging and swing chairs, and its own private circular bar area and you’ll be as cool as any Shibuya kid in downtown Tokyo.
The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AH
020 7482 5757
A firm favorite with locals and celebrities, Jade Jagger and Cheryl Cole have both added some ultra-cool points to its credentials. It is also supposed to be the first restaurant Will Smith, Nicole Kidman, and Laurence Fishburne visit when they hit town.
But celebrities aside, sake lovers will revel in the diverse selection which offers a variety of flavors, complexities and vintages, ranging from around £5 a glass to almost £1,000 for a carafe of Inochi Crystal.
26 Albemarle St, Westminster, London, W1S 4HY
020 7495 5999