Sake-It To Me


I have a confession to make: Once, I had a really terrible experience with sake on a cruise ship that ended with a raging headache and several days of stomachaches. Since then, I’d sworn it off entirely. So, you can imagine my utter panic while dining out with some friends at Doraku last weekend when I saw that man y of their cocktails used a sake base. I did what any level-headed alcohol-lover would do: I gave it a second chance. But not before I got the full low-down from the bartender.

The bartender told me that many drinkers tend to prefer chilled sake over hot — and I’d had hot sake on that cruise ship. Although sake was traditionally served warm, that was often to cover up some of the less palatable elements of the brewing process in the past. Today, though, higher quality sake brands are more accessible, so hot or cold, it will be delicious.

With that knowledge in tow, I looked over the menu with an open mind. When I saw the Rising Sun ($7), a mixture of sake, plum wine and fresh fruit juices, I knew that was a good place to start. I was a little nervous taking the first sip, but I could not have been more pleasantly surprised.

Truthfully, it was like drinking a very fruity version of grape juice — I loved it! In fact, I sucked it down rather quickly, because it was refreshing and the night was hot.

With my newfound sake confidence, I ordered the Strawberry Saketini ($9, pictured) to go with dinner. Fresh strawberry puree shaken together with Kampai sake makes one heck of a cocktail. I loved the fresh strawberry flavor and could taste more of the sake this time, which I really enjoyed.

Doraku has two locations in town — one at 1009 Kapiolani Blvd. in Kakaako and the other at 2233 Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki — and a drink on their bar menu for even the pickiest drinkers, including plenty of Japanese craft beers to go around. Cheers to that!