There’s a new Oktoberfest on the horizon and the brewed beverage of choice is saké! Known as Nihonshu no Hi or Saké Day, October 1 was the traditional start of the saké brewing calendar in Japan and has been celebrated since 1978 as a day to drink, enjoy and spread the gospel of saké.
Throughout Japan, the day is an excuse for all things saké; There are parties, marathon tastings and brewery events, as well as seminars on everything from saké manufacturing to the beauty benefits of the venerable libation. There’s even a two kilometer Saké Walk through the streets of Tokyo.
Here, in the United States, enthusiasm for Saké Day is growing—and fast. This year, it falls on a Friday, and that means it turns from a single-day celebration into weekend event—obviously. Here are some Saké Day hotspots for carousing:
By far the biggest Saké Day event stateside, Saké Day in San Francisco’s Japan Town will feature saké tastings from a vast selection of Japanese breweries, saké pairing stations serving a variety of traditional and street-style Japanese foods and live Okinawan music by the Sushi Cal Band. Organized by True Sake, the nation’s first sake exclusive retailer, and Nombe, a Japanese izakaya, or pub, proceeds will benefit the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California.
When: October 1, 6-9 pm
Where: 1840 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
Cost: Tickets are $75 until September 30 and $80 at the door.
Contact: (415) 355-9555
Saké Day celebrations start a day later at SakéOne, an authentic Japanese brewery in Forest Grove, Oregon. Enjoy steep discounts on saké flights that include imported and freshly brewed Oregon draft saké. Learn saké basics at a Saké 101 seminar with specialist Marcus Pakiser, take a brewery tour with Greg Lorenz and fuel up with a saké pairing and cooking demonstration hosted by Koi Fusion, Oregon’s own Korean fusion taco truck.
When: October 2, 12-4 pm
Where: 820 Elm Street
Forest Grove, OR 97116
Cost: Saké flights start at $5.
Contact: (503) 357-7056
New York’s sole sake exclusive retailer, Sakaya, will celebrate its third annual Saké Day with a free saké tasting event. Owners and saké experts Rick Smith and Hiroko Furukawa will guide tasters through a flight of six geographically distinct saké in an array of styles and classifications. Highlights include the delectable Tedorigawa Ikina Onna "Lucky Lady" Daiginjo from Ishikawa and the wonderfully gamy Masumi Nanago "Seventh Heaven" Yamahai Junmai Daiginjo from Nagano.
When: October 1, 6-8 pm
324 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10003
Cost: Free, and no reservations required.
Contact: (212) 505-7253
In true New York style, Manhattanites can keep the Saké Day celebrations rolling until October 3 at Sakagura, the preeminent New York saké bar and restaurant, with amazing discounts on Saké Day selections and special gifts. On Friday, ten specially selected super premium saké will be served for only $10 a glass, and on Saturday and Sunday, eight selected sakés will be sold at 25 percent off by the carafe.
When: October 1-3
211 East 43rd Street B1F
New York, NY 10017
Contact: (212) 953-7253