Bars & Pubs

The Japanese Cocktail Bar That’s Won Our Hearts

By Sophie Colvin - 16 Dec 2015

You probably already know Saké as a top-notch Japanese restaurant, and purveyors of all things delicious Japanese eats - but it’s Saké’s bar offering that really sets it apart. Take a peek behind the bar in Saké’s stunning riverside venue and you’ll find Melbourne’s best and most extensive selection of Japanese whiskey and sake.

The cocktail list is beautifully curated, with a hugely varying selection of flavour combinations. There are a few standouts in our eyes: The Mr Brightside -  a smoking concoction of star anise and cinnamon flavours - is made using Yamazaki single malt whisky and Disaronno Amaretto, and is stirred with Ardberg Islay whisky and bitters. Let's just take a moment to think about how delicious that sounds...

The second standout is the is the Saké signature cocktail, the Hattori Hanzo – think muddled cucumber and jalapeno shaken with gin, yuzu, freshly squeezed lemon juice and elderflower, served over ice in a goblet rimmed with rose petals and salt. We love the Hattori Hanzo so much that we created a step-by-step video for you to make it yourself – but it really should be left to the Saké experts. 

The team are super passionate about the drinks they create for you; working to whip up visually stunning cocktails that are tantalizing on the taste buds and are something that you’re unlikely to find elsewhere - while also being able to recommend specific sakes and whiskeys to enjoy as stand-alone drinks. Headed up by John Ross-Jones, mixologist extraordinaire and lover of Japanese spirits, you’re in safe hands with the Saké bar team. He’s one of Melbourne’s most passionate Japanese whiskey lovers, and has a long history in the industry.

If beer is where your drink order is at, you’ll be perfectly comfortable with Saké’s impressive list of beers on offer. With Asahi on tap, there are a further nine bottled Japanese beers to choose from, and a handful of local Australian beers as well. Most recently a full range of Coedo and Niigata beers have been added to the Japanese offering, providing some interesting flavours, including ginger and espresso. Many of the Japanese beers have been exclusively imported, so we recommend that you pick the brains of the Saké staff and try something Japanese that you won’t find elsewhere.

If you’re out to try something new, Saké has a huge range of Japanese spirits and local specialties that you won’t find anywhere else. We quickly learnt that not all sakes are made equal! With an extensive list of sakes (Japanese rice wine) on offer, we were talked through the differences between the types, their quality, and the processes that make them what they are.

As one of our favourite places for after work drinks, it’s the perfect spot to wind up the week in style - a stone ‘s throw from Flinders Street Station, it’s tucked in next to Hamer Hall, and enjoys a riverside view. If you head to Saké on a Friday between 5pm-7pm, you’ll be able to tuck in to complimentary roaming Japanese tapas, $10 Japanese highballs, and selected wine and beer.

If a lazy Sunday sesh is where your head is at (yeah, us too), you can enjoy DJs, oysters, and exclusive Veuve Clicquot Rich from 4pm. Ticking all the boxes, it has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, making it one of our top picks for afternoons spent sipping drinks in the sun.

Image credit: Jenna Fahey White for The Urban List

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