Hox Cup Sake Bar
When I heard about a pop up sake bar, I pictured a low lit, moody setting, with alluring, immaculate guests sipping strong and elegant drinks. This was exactly what was needed on a grim March Friday night.
In London, it seems sake is one of those drinks that everyone has heard of but no one quite understands. It just sounds glamorous, and a little mysterious. But in Japan, sake - a rice wine of around 18-20% abv - is the national beverage, and cup sakes (invented for spectators to enjoy at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics) are individual portions of sake, essentially the Japanese version of a casual beer down the park. Typically stylish, and unlike your average can of Fosters, these cup sakes are beautifully packaged in illustrated glasses and cans with peel away metal lids.
For one week only, Natsuki Kikuya, a collector from the Museum of Sake, took the opportunity to showcase more than 20 cup sake varieties in garden courtyard of The Hoxton, Shoreditch, offering Londoners a quirky and different tasting experience. We found ourselves perched around a 20m long undulating, accordion-like cardboard bar, lined with white roses in simple transparent jars. Overhead, a glass roof was adorned with greenery and pink suspended lights spilled down over candle-lit tables, creating a dream-like, ephemeral and secret space for us to sample these intriguing liquors. From three lists - ‘Classics’, ‘New gen', and ‘A bit different’ - the expert sommeliers talked us in to trying the Futsushu - a melon-flavoured sake, apparently perfect for beginners - a piña colada inspired cup (strong and sweet), and my personal highlight; the ‘jelly-cup’, that arrived in a thin mental can which we had to shake thoroughly.
The pop-up was the perfect setting to while away a Friday night, forgetting about the pouring rain awaiting us on our (still night-tube-lessness) journey home. Afterwards, we were free to take home our beautiful glasses and cans. I almost wondered whether I’d wake up the next day not believing it ever happened if it weren't for these decorated souvenirs; tokens of a wonderful evening.
As for my future sake exploits; apparently it goes really well with chocolate and cheese. I’m sold.