All About Japan

This Trendy Way to Try Sake Is the Bomb!

| Sake , Beer

The sake bomb is the marriage of two very popular things in Japan: sake and beer. According to legend, its origins can even be traced back to Japan—though no one from Japan really seems to know anything about them. So let’s tiptoe through the world of sake bombs and discover how to make—and drink—this explosive cocktail.

A Good Idea for Bad Sake

The generally accepted origin story of the sake bomb starts at the end of World War II. American soldiers only had access to poor-quality sake, which was likely stored improperly, and couldn't manage to drink it straight. So, along with heating the liquid to taste-killing degrees, the sake bomb was one method of quickly quaffing the otherwise poor-tasting liquor.

Decades after the war, American college students can still be found in cheap sushi joints all over the U.S. carrying on this grand tradition.

Play Mousetrap with Your Beer

A sake bomb is essentially a shot or cup of sake carefully balanced on two chopsticks over a half-full glass of beer. Traditionally, the sake was warmed before serving, but since it's far easier these days to get a wide variety of (much better!) sake as well as beer, you can enjoy your sake shot hot or cold as you prefer. Each bar or restaurant may well have its own signature sake bomb.

How to Sake Bomb

To enjoy a sake bomb, the first step is to procure the beer and sake and arrange them as pictured above. The chopsticks need to be spread apart just wide enough to allow the sake to drop directly into the glass. Once the stage is set, all participants begin chanting—for example: "Ichi, ni, san… (One, two, three) sake!"—and bang the table or counter top at the same time, causing the cups of sake to splash unceremoniously into the beers. With the sake cup still in the glass, the imbiber drinks the entire mixture in one chug.

Bombs Away!

This Los Angeles nightspot has the right idea for getting the party started. Whether you drink with the whole bar or just a couple of friends, sake bombs are sure to make your popularity "blow up!"

Now before you go out, be sure to brush up on sake at our Sake School!