Cherry blossom season isn't complete without experiencing this ancient Japanese rice wine
In Japan, there’s a long tradition of cherry blossom viewing, or Hanami, which includes picnics with snacks and sake in the park under the trees with family and friends. I fondly remember spending all day at the cherry blossom festival when my family lived in Okinawa. It felt like everyone on the island had converged to the same point at the same time, much like the people that crowd the Tidal Basin during peak bloom.
Sake's popularity has finally found footing in the US. Sake today is where wine was in the 1980s—transitioning from a bourgeois beverage for special occasions to the mainstream. has grown over the years. Luckily, several DC restaurants, markets and liquor stores have large sake selections, diverse picks and knowledgeable servers to help you create your own Hanami experience.
Here are several places around town to broaden and educate your sake palate.
If you’re new to the popular Japanese beverage, sake masters encourage customers to treat it like wine. Go to the grocery store and get some goat cheese or cheddar cheese and try it with sake. And more importantly, sake doesn’t have to be paired with only Japanese food. Even pizza and other Italian food. You’ll be surprised, it’s a different kind of experience.
Toki Underground has a smaller but more curated sake list, with everything from rare sake to draft sake to hot sake included. 1234 H St NE
D.C.'s esteemed sushi restaurant also has more than 25 types of sake, including sparkling sake. 1503 17th St NW
Izakaya Seki has roughly 40 sakes to choose from. There's a special focus on sakes from the Niigata Prefecture, where the owners hail from. 1117 V St NW
Daikaya offers more than 30 sakes. They also break out the beverage by categories like "light and smooth" and "aromatic and fragrant" to further educate drinkers. 705 6th St NW
Kaz Sushi Bistro
Kaz Sushi Bistro categorizes their sake by flavor profile, making it easier to find something to suit your palette. Plus, they offer flights with seven different types of sake so you can try multiple types to find a fave and learn more about the beverage in the process. 1915 I St NW
DC Sake Co
DC Sake Cō, an online retailer, offers about 50 sake varieties that can be delivered to any address within the District. Give it a try: There’s a bottle for sale on the DC Sake Cō site specifically for cookouts—Shiokawa “Cowboy Yamahai” Junmai Kimoto Genshu.
Open below Rice Restaurant in Logan Circle, Rice Market has a carefully chosen selection of sake -- both international and domestic -- personally curated by Sak owner Pollert, who seeks out fellow small, often Asian-owned businesses to feature in the store. Some of the select sake is available for consumption when dining in the restaurant upstairs. 1608 14th Street NW
Sherry's Wine and Spirits
Small but mighty, Sherry's Wine and Spirits in Woodley Park is stocked with an impressive selection of small-batch spirits, plus interesting wines & beer by the growler. When it comes to sake, you'll find more than 100 options, plus several vintage and premium (e.g. expensive!) labels. Any brand you want that they don't have can be special-ordered. 22627 Connecticut Ave NWt Ave NW
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