If you want to shake things up at your next dinner party or get-together, why not throw some sake into the mix? Sake is a rice wine and is the national beverage of Japan. The rice is polished to remove the bran and then fermented, in a brewing process similar to that of beer. Although it’s been around for thousands of years, it’s still a major talking point at any gathering – so here’s how to serve sake like a pro!

What You’ll Need

If you’re trying to keep things traditional, you’ll need a sake set, or at least some sake cups. A sake set typically consists of a carafe, known as a tokkuri, and sake cups to drink out of. Sake cups come in a variety of styles. The oldest sake cup style is sakazuki, a wide-mouthed cup that you use with both hands. The sake cups used today are usually ceramic ochoko, a smaller cylindrical type of cup. If you don’t want to go all out, shot glasses are a perfectly acceptable substitute.

Sake Preparation

The serving temperature is a major factor when it comes to serving sake. Traditionally, sake is warmed before serving. If you have a richer style of sake to hand, warming is the way to go. The tokkuri can be filled with sake and placed in a pan of hot water to achieve this. The ideal sake serving temperature is warm (think body temperature) so don’t overdo it. Conversely, sake can also be served chilled – this serving style works best for fragrant sakes. Once again, don’t go to extremes because a sake that is too cold will lose its delicate flavour.


The Japanese custom of o-shaku dictates that it is polite to refill the drinks of other people gathered with you, but never directly for yourself. This allows for lots of interaction between guests (as the capacity of a sake cup is relatively small). A perfect custom to get people mingling!

Sake is the perfect drink to serve when you’re looking to try something different, so introduce it at your next gathering!