Cocktail Culture


Simply Sake

Gary Min Sake Specialist

Photograph by Mikey McNulty

Secrets of sake. Learn more about Japan’s famed rice-based beverage.

By Adrienne N. Hester

Sake is a mystery to some diners, who still may shy away from ordering the complex Japanese alcoholic beverage. In reality, the rice-based brew is more familiar than they may think: It’s fermented and brewed like beer but has properties similar to wine.

Sake’s four simple ingredients consist of water, rice, yeast and koji, a fungus used for fermentation. To obtain the purest form of sake, the rice is polished and refined several times until it becomes crystal clear. Like wine, sake can have many flavor profiles, from floral to fruity to buttery or robust. And due to its high alcohol content—15 to 18 percent by volume—it’s a beverage made for sipping, preferably chilled, say experts.

Uncertainties about sake are falling away, and the beverage’s popularity has grown exponentially in the last several years. Several restaurants in Las Vegas feature sake, and some mixologists are using it to create sophisticated cocktails with limitless possibilities.