What Is Sake Like to People in Boston?

Written & Translated by Mayuko

This time I would like to give you a very brief summary of my recent fun and casual research about sake – what sake is like to people here in Boston.

What I did is wicked simple: going to several local liquor shops near me and asking the sellers some questions about sake; as a result, I got most interesting findings.

Let’s begin with the following question.


Q1. What is your main product?


“There isn’t really the main product, but beers and wines are popular. Like IPAs, craft beers, and red wines.”

This is the answer that I got the most, and I have actually realized that people here do like beers and wines.

I remember that my past two American roommates – one is from RI and the other one is from NY – would often purchase beers and red wines and enjoy them on a daily basis after work at home; there are the times when friends of mine and I go to the bar together and order either beers or liquors; there are also the times when I see people walking in the street with a sixer, which I think is a very common scene in the United States.

So it is mainly beers and wines. No wonder. Let’s move on to the next question for now.


Q2. Do you sell sake?


What I heard from my respondents is that although they sell occasional SAKE, it is mostly just a rare purchase of it. One of the respondents, who works at a liquor store G downtown, told me that he has sold maybe 3 bottles total.

To tell you the truth, I was a little surprised by this response because I had honestly thought that none of them had sold it in the first place.


Q3. What kind of image do you have of sake?


“I think SAKE is ok.” (Store W)

“Maybe Sapporo is more popular.” (Store B)

Hm, might not be positive responses?

For those who don’t know what Sapporo is, it is Japanese beer that is distributed in quite large quantities in the United States.


Q4. What kind of alcohol do you think Bostonians/Americans like?


“IPA beers.” (Store B)

“People like vodka-based drinks and gin.” (Store G)

“I think we all have different preferences. Some people like tequila or whiskey for example.” (Store C)

FYI: according to one of the respondents who works at a liquor store B near my apartment, three of the most common beers here are Bud Light, Sam Adams, and Corona Extra.

You might have already noticed at this point, but there is little talk about SAKE so far. Does sake not have much of a presence?


Q5. Do you think Japanese alcohol is in widespread?


A seller whose liquor store is in the central area of Boston answered like the following:

“I think so. I feel like sake is one of those things that is available a lot of places, even if it’s not the most popular.”

According to him, because it is written in Japanese, people – both sellers and consumers – have no idea what it is. The reality is that most people just occasionally drink sake only when they are at a Japanese restaurant.


* * *


I (sadly) kind of expected this result simply because I rarely see/hear about SAKE in Boston. Japanese beers seem to have a certain level of popularity, but other than that, I cannot help but admit that sake is neither very well known nor popular.

This research was just out of curiosity but has left me with something to think about: it is interesting though that Japanese food items are really easy to get attention and popular, then why not sake?

I have heard that the U.S. has been importing more and more sake recently, and the number of SAKE breweries is actually also increasing; nevertheless I feel like sake still does not have much presence.

Could proactively offering a marriage of Japanese food and sake outside a Japanese restaurant be a good idea toward gaining its popularity? Or should there be non-Japanese food items since I would like local people to enjoy sake?


* * *


It seems to still have a long way to go; however, it at least has a strong future growth potential, which needs to be grown and harvested so that SAKE is passed into many more hands and appreciated.