Sake seems to be flavour of the month in London. No matter where you look, there's a new Japanese restaurant/bar/drinking den appearing with a cocktail list full of drinks you've never heard of, made from Japan's favourite fermented rice drink. But they're flipping tradition by adding a very modern twist and serving up some seriously sexy cocktails. Check out these bars to find the most imaginative and tasty tipples.
Sosharu / 7 Tales, Farringdon
Another year, another Jason Atherton restaurant. His latest venture, Sosharu, is something totally different to what he's brought us before – this one's an izakaya-style Japanese restaurant. But it’s downstairs at 7 Tales bar where you can sample the finest sake cocktails – a loud, exciting basement room, lit with neon lights and blaring old-school hip hop (it is the old Turnmills building after all). Try the Nikkei Martinez, made with aged sake, mosto verde pisco, black salt and flowers. It's punchy, irresistible and pretty-looking too.
Sake no Hana, Mayfair
For a true cherry blossom experience, check out Sake no Hana's Sakura event that's taking place until June. The bar's been transformed into a cherry blossom area, with falling petals by day, and lit up with thousands of lights by night. They've got two particularly special sake-based cocktails – Kiki Sakura, a mix of Shiroku yuzu sake, cherry liqueur, Elements 8 Platinum rum and apricot – and Kaori Arpege (that comes as part of their £34/head Sakura set menu) and is a blend of gin, yuzu sake, cherry liqueur, peach bitters, grapefruit juice and agave. Delicious!
Yumi Izakaya, Soho
Another izakaya-style bar, Yumi Izakaya, sticks with the traditional izakaya formula of lots of small plates and a very substantial bar menu offering. They do eight types of sake by the glass or bottle and really know their stuff when it comes to the fermented rice drink. Pop in to try out a selection of sakes and nibble on padron pepper tempura, chilli-fried cauliflower and a selection of chicken yakitori.
Wazen, King's Cross
For the full flight of Japanese food and sake pairing, Wazen is the best bet. They'll talk you through the choice of 25 different sakes they've chosen to go with their modern twists on traditional Japanese dishes like chicken namban, black cod and sashimi platters.
Yashin Ocean, South Kensington
A bar that's a little more refined is Yashin Ocean on Brompton Road. Yes, there’s a plastic horse/lampshade, but don't judge it on that. Take a date, sit at the shiny curved bar and order a Dry Yashitini – it's sake, vodka, gin, grape, cucumber, scent of grapefruit and dried cucumber – and come over all James Bond in 'You Only Live Twice'.
Tonkotsu, Notting Hill
Prefer your sake with ramen instead of raw fish? Then Tonkotsu is the place to go. There's a small selection of sakes that are served cold, warm or hot.
Koji, Parsons Green
If you're looking for sake in south-west London then look no further than Koji in Parsons Green. They serve 14 different sakes, including classics, cloudy, aged, warm and flavoured varieties, and if you can't choose just one type they do a sake tasting tray of Uragasanryu Koka, Shirakabegura Kimoto Junmai & Shirakawago Sasanigori so you can sample three different sakes.