Which Japanese Drinks to Pair With Your Sushi

To get the most out of your meal, the right food and drink pairing should be considered. This is especially true when it comes to sushi. The right Japanese drinks paired with sushi is all about finding the right balance that will bring out the flavor notes and enhance the meal.

Not all beverages are created equal, and not all of them are a good match with sushi.

Depending on the type of sushi roll you choose, different drinks and beverages can complement and even enhance the flavor. Sure, you can simply have water or ramune with your sushi for a safer bet but your options don’t stop there.

Today, we have created a beginners guide to sushi and drink pairings.

Best Japanese Drinks to Pair With Sushi

1. Whiskey

In the West, whiskey is considered to be a strong alcoholic drink that’s more appropriate after dinner. However, did you know that whiskey is a good pairing for sushi?

Sushi is a complex food with bold flavors. Sushi has elements such as the sweet and sour flavor of the vinegary rice, the salty notes of the seaweed, and the malty depth of the soy sauce. Plus, you have the sinus-clearing heat of wasabi and ginger which all add up to a rather intricate food.

A bold drink like whiskey is a perfect complement to a complex food like sushi. If you can get your hands on a Yamazaki Single Malt, give it a pour with your favorite sushi roll.

2. Umeshu

Umeshu is a type of Japanese liquor made from Ume plums (aka Japanese apricot) soaked in alcohol and sugar. Historically, folks drank Umeshu for treating sore throats. Its sweet aroma, sour flavor, and low alcohol content made Umeshu a popular beverage.

Umeshu is referred to as “plum wine” but it’s not actually a type of wine. Umeshu provides a citrus note that is both sweet and sour, making the drink a perfect complement to most Japanese cuisines including sushi.

You can drink Umeshu straight, with ice, or with water. The most common way to enjoy Umeshu is on the rocks.

3. Beer

When it comes to Japanese drinks and sushi pairings, it’s hard to go wrong with a pint of beer.

However, your favorite pint with classic sushi rolls might not necessarily be the right pairing. Sushi offers delicate flavors so you should avoid beers with overwhelming flavor like stouts and porters. In this case, your safest bet is to go for Japanese lagers such as Asahi Dry or Yebisu. The dryness and crisp finish of a Japanese lager make it ideal for sushi.

If you are open to recommendations, the Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace is a fantastic choice for Friday Night Sushi.

4. Sake

As far as Japanese drinks go, there’s nothing more popular than sake. Therefore, sushi and sake is a match made in heaven, right?

Well, you’d be surprised that sake is not traditionally consumed with sushi. According to Vinepair, pairing sake with sushi is a big mistake since you’re doubling up on the rice and rice ingredients.

However, times have changed and you can enjoy this pairing in a sushi restaurant without raising an eyebrow.

The success of this pairing depends on what type of sushi do you like. For example, sashimi goes well with a Junmai Ginjo for cleaning up the soy sauce and allowing you to enjoy the flavors of the fish. For Western nigiri with plenty of spice and sweet sauces, the light and dry Honjozo completes the combo.

Find the Perfect Pairing

Pairing Japanese drinks with your sushi is about enhancing your dining experience. The last thing you want is for your drinks to compete with your food. With that said, we hope that these food pairing tips will help elevate your sushi dining experience to a whole new level.