Sake Presentation in Restaurants
Firstly, sake is meant to be enjoyed, albeit out of the perfect sake cup or a pair of cupped hands. But that said, there is a right way and a bunch of wrong ways to serve sake. Sometimes restaurants know nothing and serve sake out of bar shot glasses or they know sake and try to serve it out of martini glasses. There is really nothing wrong with either presentation but the signal it sends is confusing. If you were to get a thick shot glass filled with sake, what is you first inclination? To throw that sucker back! To treat it like a shot of ta-kill-ya or Jeigermeister. Sake is not hard liquor so why serve it in a bar shot glass? Secondly, the fashionable martini glass, which is good for nigori – unfiltered or cloudy sake – but not that great for filtered cold sakes. Why? Firstly it makes your mouth open wider and you take a bigger sip and secondly the fluid hits all over your pallet rather than sending a controlled flow over the tip of the tongue. It also reinforces the hard alcohol image as usually a martini glass if filled with ummmm martinis.
The third black-eye to look for are the restaurants that sell cold sake out of hot sake Tokkuri (those funnel shaped servers). This is maddening, because invariably the Tokkuri is accompanied by two little ceramic sake cups, which are not ideal for cold sake. The image is wrong, the style is wrong and the feeling is wrong. If this should happen to you remember that it is no big deal, but try casually asking for a white wine glass instead. Then by all means pass on the restaurants name to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will follow it up. Small water glasses work as well. In fact do a taste test and see which vessel you prefer drinking your sake out of, the little ceramic cup or a wine glass etc. The bottom-line is to have fun with sake, but we can also do more to enhance the "picture" of sake for those who do not yet understand this mystical beverage.