For purists, the thought of blending sake with other ingredients is nothing short of blasphemous, but for those of us brave enough to try something new sake makes a brilliant addition to cocktails.

Whether as the central character or a supporting player, sake’s unique umami flavour offers a cocktail experience unlike any you’ve ever had. Despite its complexity, sake is a very approachable ingredient that can breathe new life into your cocktails.

With a history and culture long and varied, sake is a drink just as diverse and complex as wine. As explained before in Part 1 and Part 2 of the Sake’s Guides, Sake is a fermented drink created from rice, koji, yeast and water, and has existed for well over a thousand years.

There are different styles, varieties and flavours to choose from, all ranging in quality based on the percentage of rice that gets milled away during the brewing process.

Just like wine, the world of sake is vast and complex, but it’s not as intimidating as it seems.


To blend Sake into cocktails think about its ‘weight’ in the drink and substitute similar weights such as vodka or gin. Such as a Corpse Reviver; equal parts gin, Cointreau and sake with a splash of lemon juice.

A Corpse Reviver cocktail – Photo credit Will Shenton –

A recent trend behind the bar is crafting low alcohol cocktails with vermouth, amaro, or wine instead of high-proof spirits. Many guests love low-ABV cocktails, as they have a more mellow effect than full-strength drinks. Low-ABV cocktails also appeals to patrons who have a low tolerance for alcohol or who don’t necessarily love the boozy flavour of strong drinks. Sake is another ideal ingredient for these low-ABV concoctions. Daiginjo or Ginjo sake make excellent cocktails, as their central flavours can easily play the lead.

A twist on Bloody Mary called ‘Asian Mary’. Recipe for it by Nick Mautone:

Ultimately, sake adds flavours and textures that can’t be achieved with any other ingredients. Its unique umami quality can elevate a cocktail, allowing you to experiment with new flavour combinations for new twists on old standbys and entirely new concoctions altogether. Sake is on the rise in UK, and cocktails are just one way it’s becoming a staple behind the bar.

Here are some useful websites to find more cocktail inspired ideas: From Food & Wine; Chilled Magazine; and Liquor.

To find more tips and information on alcohol visit and follow The Sommelier on twitter @thesommelierUK.


More stories:

A Beginner’s Guide to Sake: Part Two

The Unknown, Yet Crucial Role of Wine Tasting