Learn about sake (a brewed rice drink) and shochu (a Japanese spirit) while tasting a diverse range of both traditional beverages. Some 53 ingredients can be used in the production of shochu, such as sweet potato, brown sugar, barley, rice, or buckwheat. Each one adds its own unique flavor and aroma to the distilled liquor. As we explore these differences, I’ll describe shochu’s history, production process, and cultural relevance. We’ll do an equally deep dive into sake (which is made from fermented rice) to see how distinct and dynamic these two national drinks can be. I’ll also share tips on how to converse with bartenders and servers in my favorite bars and bottle shops in Tokyo. You’ll leave with new confidence when it comes to selecting shochu or sake from a menu.
I’m the author of "The Shochu Handbook," the world's first English-language book on Japan’s indigenous spirits, and I’ve worked in two shochu distilleries over the years. I’m also a contributor to the forthcoming “Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails,” a frequent public speaker, judge on the international spirits circuit, and the world's only dual-certified (Japan and US) shochu expert -- with an advanced qualification in sake for good measure. I’ve lived in Tokyo for over 17 years and I love sharing my passion for shochu and sake with others.
Light appetizers Please let me know of any dietary restrictions.
Sake and shochu tasting
We’ll share a table at HAVESPI Shinjuku, a cozy bar hiding on an upper floor within the Shinjuku shopping district. With its large shochu selection and cocktail mixing space, this non-smoking bar has a relaxed vibe, perfect for a tasting. You can also bring your own food in here!