Sake to Me!

October 1, 2012 | By Mari Taketa

The Japanese liquor invades Waikiki.

Sake is hot in America— figuratively speaking, that is—and nowhere more so than Honolulu, which boasts the country’s highest ratio of sake-serving restaurants per capita. The trend spills over to Waikiki, where cool sake cocktails abound and where a cozy, hidden lounge lets you indulge in more than 50 kinds of straight-up sake.

RumFire’s Sexy Wahine

If the stunning beachside views don’t put you in the mood, the Sexy Wahine will. Named to reflect the fresh, playful vibe of the Sheraton Waikiki’s RumFire lounge, the cocktail combines Momokawa sake with muddled cucumber, lime juice and a sassy splash of Stirrings ginger liqueur. Served in a martini glass, it’s the perfect start to a fun girls’ night out.

Sheraton Waikiki
2255 Kalakaua Ave.
(808) 922-4422

Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature cocktail is not for the faint of heart. The Matsuhisa Martini starts off innocently enough with a shot of Ketel One vodka—then ups the wow factor with premium Hokusetsu honjozo sake. These get shaken together with or without pickled gari, the fiery, cherry blossom-pink strips of ginger usually served with sushi, before the drink is topped off with a garnish of fresh cucumber. It’s as potent, smooth and surprising as any of Nobu’s creations.

Waikiki Parc Hotel
2233 Helumoa Road
(808) 237-6999

Sansei’s Sake Bellini

A modern Japanese twist on a favorite Venetian classic, the Sake Bellini at Sansei Seafood Restaurant and its neighboring sister eatery, d.k Steak House, punches things up quite a few notches from the original. Traditional Prosecco gets kicked up with a shot of Iichiko, the potent, clean-tasting distilled barley liquor that in Japan outsells sake. Peach liqueur and splashes of cranberry and orange juice round out a delightfully fruity flavor profile.

Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa
2552 Kalakaua Ave.

Japan’s modest chuhai gets an upscale spin with this popular cocktail. Featured at The Modern Honolulu’s Lobby Bar and Sunrise pool bar, the Green Hai packs a double punch: Ty Ku soju and Ty Ku green citrus liqueur, fizzed up by ginger beer. Accented with fresh lemon juice and garnished with fresh cucumber and a shiso leaf, Green Hai is one of the top-selling cocktails at this trendy property.

1775 Ala Moana Blvd.
(808) 954-7427

Fifty-two kinds of sake, happy hour until 8 p.m. and a $5 happy hour house sake to boot: It’s hard to beat Genius Lounge for pure sake pleasure. The quirky hangout brings a contemporary Tokyo vibe to a third-floor space overlooking a clothing boutique of the same name. Sake novices can choose from pre-selected flights showcasing different styles and tastes of Japan’s indigenous brew, and order from a full menu of fusion dishes devised to complement sake. Recommended: citrus-pepper chicken, cream cheese “poke” and a battered, deep-fried minced-meat patty known as “menchi katsu.” Non-sake drinkers needn’t worry: Genius’ full bar includes ample selections of beer, liquor and fruity sangria.

346 Lewers St.
(808) 626-5362