Sommelier Erika Haigh’s 6 top places to drink sake in London

Erika Haigh knows good sake. Erika isn’t just a sommelier, she’s also a sake educator, meaning what she doesn’t know about Japanese rice wine isn’t worth knowing at all.

As well as running Covent Garden sake bar Moto (which also recently made our list of the best Japanese restaurants in London), Haigh runs the newly launched digital bottle shop Mai, where you can score bottles of the finest sake around. We asked Erika about her favourite places to drink sake irl in London. 

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1. Kioku Bar, Whitehall 

Erika: ‘The newly opened Kioku Bar is not to be missed, Endo Kazutoshi’s latest venture, Kioku is located in the OWO. It feels like a journey back to Tokyo, with an impeccably curated sake program (the longest sake list in Europe!), vinyl records spinning, sleek design, and exceptional hospitality from the team. Don’t miss Head Sommelier Anthony’s sake recommendations, and if you’re in the mood for some hot sake, make sure to ask him to prepare the perfect cup for you. With an impressive cocktail program and a selection of Japanese spirits, there’s something for everyone. While it may not be your everyday hangout, it’s the perfect spot for a treat or celebratory drinks.’

Ground Floor, The OWO, 2 Whitehall Pl, SW1A 2BD

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2. Oeno Maris, Newington Green

‘While technically a fishmonger – and a good one at that, probably the best in London – not a sake bar, I wanted to include Oeno Maris as they actually offer a fantastic array of sakes for both takeaway and the option to drink in-house. I recommend pairing Sadaijin Junmai sake, which has a beautifully rich and savoury profile, with their tuna sashimi. It’s a flavour combination that’s steeped in umami and works perfectly together.’ 

105 Newington Green Rd, N1 4QY

3. Sake Collective, Shoreditch

‘If you’re planning a night out in Shoreditch, make sure to start at Sake Collective. They offer a serious selection of premium Japanese sake, and their knowledgeable team will provide you with perfect recommendations. As they’re more of a shop than a bar, I recommend making this your first stop before heading elsewhere for nibbles and more drinking. If I were you, I’d opt for the Mutsu Hassen Tokubetsu Junmai with notes of lychee, creamy green apple, and melon sorbet.’

144 Commercial St, E1 6NU

4. Kanpai, Bermondsey 

‘I had to mention Kanpai because they’re the UK’s first craft sake brewery. While it’s wonderful to have numerous options for enjoying sake imported from Japan, the sake scene here truly thrives when we have local artisans creating a British interpretation of sake with the local audience in mind. Located on the Bermondsey Beer Mile, Kanpai is a perfect stop to include if you’re bar hopping. Try their sakes on tap, as this is an experience you can’t have when drinking bottles shipped all the way from Japan. Their sakes are incredibly fresh, juicy, and vibrant, which is only possible when the sake is made on site!’

48 Druid St, London SE1 2EZ

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5. Dinings SW3, Belgravia 

‘While Dinings SW3 is primarily recognised as a restaurant, they also have a great bar space that you can walk into at any time and indulge in their fantastic wine selection and cocktails – but they also boast an extensive sake list available by the glass. And, true to their reputation as an exceptional restaurant, you can also savour some equally impressive bar snacks. Make sure you order a glass of the sparkling rosé sake while you’re there; it tastes like strawberries, cherries, apples, and plums. Scrumptious.’

Walton House, Walton St, SW3 2JH

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6. Moto, Covent Garden

‘A shameless plug, but I had to include my own sake bar. The whole reason I opened Moto in 2019 was because I felt like there wasn’t enough going on in London’s sake scene. While the scene has flourished since then, Moto will always hold a special place as the UK’s first independent sake bar, shop, and eatery. We’re proud to offer a curated selection of Japanese craft sake from artisan producers who I’m honoured to call both friends and partners. If you’re new to sake, start with a flight to explore the incredible variety this drink has to offer, and pair it with some Japanese tapas or our signature obento meal boxes.’ 

7 Maiden Ln, WC2E 7NA

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