Sake Cocktail Awards 2016: Where Traditional meets Modern

The Sake Cocktail Awards are a rare opportunity for visitors to watch a selection of professional mixologists shake up original cocktails right in front of them, which they then have the opportunity to sample. A winner is crowned at the end of each day, based on visitors’ votes. Adding a variety of mixers and ingredients – both familiar and new – to a Japanese sake base, these original cocktail creations will redefine sake drinking. The Sake Cocktail Awards aren’t just interested in finding the “best overall” sake but rather the best combination for a particular situation. Be it a New Year’s Eve celebration or a pre-theatre drink, rest assured the ideal cocktail will be found!

Enjoyed in Japan for thousands of years, sake is an indispensable part of Japanese life and culture to this day. Outside of Japan, chefs and mixologists are experimenting with mixing different types of sakes (from Junmai to Daiginjo) with western flavours, using these various sakes as a fresh, new cocktail base. According to Oliver Hilton-Johnson, Director and Sake Specialist of Tengu Sake and Sake Educator for the British Sake Association, “Whilst the UK consumer is spoilt for choice when it comes to the selection of alcoholic drinks on offer, few are quite as versatile and rewarding as sake. Which other alcoholic drink can be both cool and refreshing as well as warm and invigorating? Great with sushi but also cheese? HYPER JAPAN will allow visitors to try sake in a familiar environment by sampling a variety of amazing sake cocktails.”

The competing mixologists are a diverse assortment, including Japanese sake experts and award-winning London talent. Each day will feature three different contestants, so every Sake Cocktail Awards visitor gets to sample three exciting sake-based drinks!

Visitors can also purchase the sake used by the participating mixologists at HYPER JAPAN’s sake shop, just next to the awards area.


Nominated Mixlogists

FRIDAY 25 November

  • Ryu Okada

    Kampai Cocktails

    Ryu grew up in Japan and lived in Sydney for three years before moving to London. Ryu is a seasoned sommelier and mixologist with experience working at a number of top establishments from Tokyo to London. He is now director of a mobile cocktail bar company, Kampai Cocktails (named after the Japanese word for cheers!), serving delicious cocktails for all occasions in Greater London and the South East.

  • Tommaso Cicala


    Tommaso grew up in the hospitality business; his father was a chef and restaurant owner, so it’s in the blood! He has always been fascinated by the ability of a good bartender to entertain customers while at the same time creating amazing concoctions. He likes taking part in cocktail competitions to share ideas with others, and he recently triumphed at the Mastiha Growers Challenge. He now regales patrons at Plateau restaurant in Canary Wharf.

  • Rush Limbu

    The Hinds Head

    A nave of Nepal, Rush lived and worked in Hong Kong for 20 years before arriving in the UK, where he currently works at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred hostelry the Hinds Head in Bray, Berkshire. In his time, Rush has set up bars for many prestigious restaurants and hotels, including the triple Michelin-starred Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong. He
    has also competed in many cocktail contests, and has previously won the 42 Below Vodka Cocktail Competition.

SATURDAY 26 November

  • Maria Vittoria Vecchione


    Currently area bar manager and chief mixologist for top London venues Shoryu, Ichiryu and Sakagura, Maria grew up in Naples, Italy. Here she worked as a bartender and nurtured a passion for Japanese food and sake. Once in London she focussed on Japanese mixology, and since 2013 she’s been a sake sommelier. She’s very passionate about matching flavours to create a winning blend in every cocktail she creates – she’s now invented over 50 of them!

  • Antonio Soccio


    Italian Antonio is striving to become one of the big names in the hospitality industry, and to that end he has been traveling around Europe and North America learning about new cultures, beverages and ingredients. In 2016 he landed in London and joined Tokimeite restaurant in Mayfair, where he has been learning how to make the most of Japanese sake and whisky, and to balance in perfect harmony the flavours, appearance and soul of each drink.

  • Giancarlo Cordua

    Roka Charlott Street

    Still only 25 years of age, Giancarlo has gained a wealth of international experience en route to his current position at Roka Charlotte Street. After cutting his cocktail-making teeth in his native Italy he moved to Germany and then Edinburgh, where he learnt all about whisky, including Japanese varieties. This led to a passion for all things Japanese, which he indulges at Roka, along with striving to be an ever more complete bartender.

SUNDAY 27 November

  • Mattia Picello

    OKA Pan Asian & Sushi

    Mattia came to London to pursue his dream of becoming a household name in the world of bartending. He started his trade in the Venetian countryside, in a very rural bar, surrounded by good wine, homemade food and craft spirits. Since arriving in the UK, he has worked at a number of prestigious venues, and is now company bar manager at Oka Restaurants. Mattia would like to invite you to see his passion for the art of bartending!

  • Seyhan Raykov

    Aqua Restaurant Group

    Seyhan has been a professional bartender for almost seven years and during that time he has made thousands of drinks for all sorts of people. Having started out in a Turkish café, he has since worked in a wide variety of bars and venues, including a stint working for Gordon Ramsay, and at the exclusive Quo Vadis members’ club. He has also competed in a number of cocktail competitions, and currently works at the unique Japanese venue Aqua Kyoto.

  • Georgia Billing

    Megaro Bar

    Georgia comes from a catering family – her parents own a fish and chip shop! She has been bartending for over ten years in between studying and travelling, including completing a PhD in Biology at Cambridge. She applies food science to her work, and prepares cocktail ingredients from scratch. She currently applies her unique talents at the Megaro Bar in King’s Cross, and was recently awarded membership of exclusive global bartending club the New Malt Order.


sake-hanafugaHana-Fuga Yuzu Sparkling

Type of Sake: Sake-based Fruit Liqueur
Rice Variety: Nakateshinsenbon and others
Rice Polish Rao / ABV: 5%
Best Served: Chilled

A light, refreshing, and delicately sweet blend of yuzu citrus and sparkling sake. With intense aromas of yuzu marmalade, crystallised tangerine zest, and honey. The perfect preprandial for all Bellini lovers.

logo-ozekiBy Ozeki

The history of Ozeki dates back to 1711, when it began to brew sake in the Imazu area of Nada in Hyogo, making the most of the mineral-rich local spring water. Over three centuries later, the brewery connues to pursue innovaon while upholding tradion.


Type of Sake: Junmai
Rice Variety: Gohyakumangoku
Rice Polish Rao / ABV: 70% / 15%
Best Served: 10-20 °c

Made with the tradional kimoto method. This method enables the yeast and lacc acid bacteria in the yeast starter (shubo) to work well to produce a unique complex and concentrated, yet smooth and elegant texture.


This brewery is located in Nada, one of Japan’s foremost sake making regions. Their unique approach combines modern facilies with tradional methods. Here, a passionate team uses arsanal techniques to brew stunning sake, almost enrely by hand.

Gekkeikan Nigori

Type of Sake: Nigori
Rice Variety: –
Rice Polish Rao / ABV: – / 10.5%
Best Served: 5-15 °c

Nigori means ‘cloudy’ and this style of sake is thicker and creamier in texture, with a milk-like appearance. The ‘cloudiness’ comes from the rice sediment that remains aer passing through a special coarse-mesh filter. Sweet, medium-body, hints of honey and tropical fruit, with a long finish.

By Gekkeikan Sake

Gekkeikan was established in 1637 in the Fushimi district of Kyoto, where the water is as crisp and delicious as the natural surroundings are beauful. Today, Gekkeikan sake, brewed in me-honoured tradion, is enjoyed by drinkers in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Where to buy

Japan Centre
T.K. Trading
Rice Wine Shop