Sake Night School

For those looking for a sake education, a one-block square area of New York’s East Village can serve as tutor and fermented-rice playground.

sake bar in new york city with lanternPhoto Courtesy Decibel

This minimalistic designed bottle shop of Sakaya, on East 9th Street, is a window into the world of sake where owners Rick and Hiroko are happy to share their know-how. You may learn that sake rice is specially grown, not simply regular rice that is fermented—at least in the premium sakes. Sakaya carries bottles from small breweries that are harder to come by.

Armed with a little knowledge it’s time to hit the East Village streets. A first test comes at the subterranean Decibel, also on 9th, which claims to be “the closest you can get to Japan without stepping on a plane.” The red-lit bar is transporting physically and spiritually, with 100-plus bottles of sake on the menu, and exquisite snacks like the wasabi dumplings. Nearby, on 10th the siphon-coffee shop Hi-Collar blissfully turns sake hot spot come 6 p.m. The Christofle gold cups that hold coffee in daylight hours are stowed to make room for sake pours and cocktails like Shiso Mojito, with sake and shiso.

sake bar in new york city bartender making cocktailsPhoto Courtesy Hi-Collar

To further your education, here are two fun options.

  1. Catch the D or N from the East Village to Industry City in Brooklyn. Within the building is New York’s first sake brewery, Brooklyn Kura.
sake brewery in brooklyn new york man working with rice

Photo Courtesy Molly Tavoletti

  1. Attend Joy of Sake New York, the largest sake tasting in the world outside Japan with 300 premium labels expected at the event June 15.