Sake Bombs? The True Story

The origins of the "Sake Bomb" are as confusing as who created the Caesar Salad! Some say that American sailors practiced their "depth charges" when stationed in Japan; while others say that it occurred late one evening in Manhattan when some Japanese businessmen watched several locals drinking "boiler makers" and tried it with sake. I will say that I prefer the former scenario, because the Japanese love their sake too much to muddy it with beer! Regardless, "Sake Bombs" have become a cult beverage ritual unto themselves, and the future will not see this ill-conceived practice ending anytime soon. I say ill conceived on account of the singular fact that drinkers would never entertain the idea of doing Chardonnay Bombs or Cabernet Bombs or would they? And as I am a purist but not a snob, and despite the fact that "Sake Bombs" confirm the misconception that sake is a hard alcohol, I have decided to use my professional sake tasting skills to guide you through this bomb field. (All pun intended).sake bomb


But first a special memory that is fun story telling. Several years back I was in Osaka, Japan having dinner with John Gauntner, Philip Harper, and Yasutaka Daimon, owner of Daimon Sake Brewery. We were drinking the entire sake menu of a restaurant when I casually mentioned the phenomenon known as "Sake Bombs." Yasutaka said "What? Sake Bombs?" and I sheepishly told him about this dubious sake-related concoction. The story is funnier when you can visualize a person of some authority first lowering their eyebrows in disgust than opening their eyes wide in fascination. "I want to try a Sake Bomb," were the next words out of his mouth. The three of us persuaded this great sake-soul to not enter the world of sake-sub-culture. Knowing Daimon-san, I personally believe that he has tried it by himself.


So here are the bloody details and recommendations. I have "heard" of about ten different methods and two stand out above the rest. The first requires a pair of chopsticks and a firm forehead. In this approach you take a pint of beer and place the chopsticks spread in a mild "V" on top of the beer glass. Then you place a sake cup filled with hot sake on the closed end of the chopsticks. At this point you can either pound the table or bar with your hands until the sake plops down into the beer cup, or, you can use your head! You make the call. (I have seen the negative side of having to use your head twice or three times to make the cup fall) The second method of doing a Sake Bomb is to use a pint glass filled with beer with the hot cup of sake sitting beside the glass. Without using your hands, you must pick the hot sake cup up with your teeth so as to not burn your lips and carry the vessel over to the awaiting cool bath of brew. More often than not a splash of heated beer douses your face in this process, which makes it a better dare!


Again, a Sake Bomb is purely a drinking novelty void of any rationale other than to have fun. But to make it more fun I say why not taste the sake, so use a big dry cheap honjozo that will be at the very least slightly discernable amongst the beer flow. Bombs away!

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