About

Founded in 2010, Chicago Sake offers clients a marketing platform to showcase their premium sakes to the North American market. Who are our clients? Sake brewers, sake importers, sake distributors, and businesses that sell sake, who hire Chicago Sake as part of their strategic efforts to move the needle on their premium brands. Whether in a portfolio, on the shelf, or on the menu, we support our clients' top and bottom-line objectives by providing advice on positioning, branding, and marketing. Being in Chicago is not accident. If a certain sake brand can be found in refrigerators around Chicago, consider that brand US-market ready.

If you're looking to go from selling 50 cases a month to selling 500 cases a month, Chicago Sake can help. Our mission is to grow sake awareness, which first and foremost benefits our clients.

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Sake is generally misunderstood, and often misrepresented in North America. This is frustrating for sake drinkers because we can't find a good bottle when we want one (even in some respectable establishments). It's frustrating for brewers because the market for premium sake, which is higher margin, is aggressively elbowed aside by cheap sake, which is what is found in sake bombs, sake cocktails, and heated sake. That gimmicky low-margin model will probably continue, and we wish them good luck.

We decided to establish a company entirely dedicated to pursuing an alternative marketing platform, one that creates demand for premium sake in North America, typically enjoyed chilled and neat, and universally higher-margin. Click here to learn more about premium sake. Our marketing model is rooted in education, which is what the market segment we cover is seeking. By organizing sake-tasting parties, sake-pairing dinners, and sake industry events, Chicago Sake is a resource for connecting premium sake brands with top-shelf consumers. Hot sake and dragon rolls...step aside.

Value

It's because our background is not in the wine and spirits industry that we have an edge. So, what do we offer? In short, we bring sake expertise, marketing expertise, and a network of individuals who influence what top-shelf drink, and where they go to get it. Handing your premium sake program to Chicago Sake means plugging into an engine of revenue growth unmatched in the North American market, starting in with a base in Chicago.

Team

John Robinson

John Robinson

Sake was a total head-scratcher for me until 5 years ago. How could a Japan's culture of quality and innovative culinary practices produce such a clumsy booze? ... I asked myself time and again. Japanese beer was quenching, their shochu was solid, their whisky won global awards, but why was sake just, so, unsatisfying? Then I was turned on to what they called "premium" sake, which was typically enjoyed chilled, and wasn't readily available in the US until about 10 years ago. Now, it's slowing taking over my refrigerator. Read More »

What is it though that inspires one to start a company entirely focused on 'growing sake awareness' in the US? Sake's craftsmanship appeals to my general dislike of mass-market; Sake's history is steeped in brilliant ingenuity, and elaborate brewing tradition; Sake, in all it forms, is Japan, and has become the darling of those seeking to imbibe liquid Japan.

Chicago native, and serial entrepreneur, Mr. Robinson's 7 years of business and academic pursuits in the Far East endowed him with an appreciation for fundamentals. An important fundamental of sake brewing, or any brewing or distilling for that matter, is water. Mr Robinson owns a water company. Emissary, Chicago Sake's parent company, offers a wide range of sipping classes, including Sake. Robinson@ChicagoSake.com

Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart

No intention to come off as a sake snob. I've never been one of those people that sends a bottle of wine back or scoffs at a hint of cork. But when you know what you're looking for in "premium" sake, it's easy to spot the flaws. Whether it's a daiginjo served hot or a two year old bottle of junmai, there's a lot of misrepresentation in the market. We realized there was a huge need to disseminate accurate information about how to enjoy the very best sake. And finding the best sake has become a passion of mine that's taken me to breweries across Japan and emboldened me to get sake certified. I see the chance to grow sake awareness through fun, interactive engagement that marries the learning and exploration of the category through social settings.

Education

If you are looking for someone to help you differentiate Jumai from Junmai-Ginjo from Junmai-Daiginjo, our parent company, Emissary, offers a wide range of sake classes. Emissary's 100 Level classes offer students an introduction to styles and regions; 200 Level classes offer a deep-dive into particular styles, 300 Level classes offer pairing opportunities, and 400 Level classes are essentially independent study under the supervision of Emissary faculty. Emissary's classes are totally blind, meaning that during the class students never get a glimpse of brand or bottle. Visit Emissary here.

Chicago Sake regularly partners with groups seeking to promote Japanese culture in Chicago, restaurants/bars/clubs interested in hosting a sake-sipping party, and anyone with a penchant for artisan/ craft beverages. See who we have partnered with here. Chicago Sake welcomes all opportunities that grow sake awareness. See who we have partnered with here.