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To-Go Sake Hits Chicago

Canned sake
Photo: Jeff Marini

Long before American winemakers were slinging rosé in cans, Japanese commuters were grabbing to-go jars of sake from vending machines in Tokyo subway stations. That tradition has recently taken off stateside, minus the vending machines. Find these artfully designed single-serving cans and cups, many of which you can bring home and reuse as glasses, for $4 to $18 at area restaurants and liquor stores.

1. Tozai Night Swim

This koi-adorned can holds Futsushu sake, which is weighty and has banana notes. Koi are a national symbol in Japan.
Perfect pairing:Best sipped on its own
Where to find it:Bottles Up, 3164 N. Broadway, Lake View East

2. Aoki Shuzo Yuki Otoko Yeti Cup Sake

The creature on the jar? That’s Yuki Otoko, Japan’s Bigfoot, said to roam (and to judge from the image, ski) in the snowy mountains of Niigata, where the 300-year-old Aoki Brewery makes this refreshing sake.
Perfect pairing:Grilled chicken or salmon
Where to find it:Kaisho, 652 W. Randolph St., West Loop

3. Enter.Sake Black Honjozo

The vessel is as cool and clean as the fruity sake inside. It’s brewed in the Japanese Alps.
Perfect pairing:Takeout maki and nigiri
Where to find it:Lush Wine and Spirits, 1412 W. Chicago Ave., Noble Square; 2232 W. Roscoe St., Roscoe Village

4. Nishinoseki Daruma Cup Tokubetsu Junmai

This sake is great both chilled and warmed (heat amps up the umami). The daruma dolls signify good luck.
Perfect pairing:Yakitori
Where to find it:Division Street Liquors, 1759 W. Division St., East Ukrainian Village; Momotaro, 820 W. Lake St., West Loop

5. Joto One Cup Honjozo

Designed by Japanese graffiti artist Shiro, this cup contains melony-tasting sake from a 150-year-old brewery.
Perfect pairing:Tuna sushi
Where to find it:Sushi-san, 63 W. Grand Ave., Near North Side; selected Binny’s locations

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