Thinking about drinking with sushi

Alistair Blair | 28.10.2023

 A pina colada with your maki? A pinot with your bluefin?

In Japan, most people typically pair sushi with a light Japanese beer such as Sapporo. Sake (rice wine) is also pretty popular, as indeed is green tea. However, to get the most out of your food, consider pairing it with other drinks. You’ll discover how certain beverages can bring out the delicate flavours of sushi. Here are a few suggestions, which have been compiled for us by Briana Hilton, previously “a mixologist at a high end sushi restaurant”. Thanks, Briana.

White Burgundy

If you’re up for a gastronomic adventure, think about pairing your sushi with white Burgundy. Sommelier Mayumi Kobayashi of New York’s omakase restaurant Yoshino says that this wine is absolutely fabulous with sushi, calling it a match made in heaven. “The acidity from the rice vinegar with the minerality and brininess of the fish and shellfish, especially sea urchin, paired with a beautifully crisp white Burgundy is just mouth-wateringly delicious,” she adds.

Pinot Noir

Mayumi also recommends pairing a pinot noir with bluefin tuna. This is a crucial choice because Yoshino always includes four courses of bluefin.


Some types of sushi can leave an oily or fatty aftertaste, so you’ll need a good palate cleanser between bites. One drink that can work as a palate cleanser is prosecco. Since this is a sweet wine, it’s traditionally paired with salty food like cheese and seafood. So you can expect it to pair well with sushi rolls or sushi made with oily fish, such as mackerel or aji.


Believe it or not, some of the most beloved cocktails go well with selected types of sushi. For instance, a pina colada works well with a sushi roll made with ripe mango since the food enhances the sweet and slightly creamy texture of the cocktail. Meanwhile, a classic mojito made with lime, rum, mint, soda water, and sugar enhances the taste of a spicy tuna roll.

For zero alcohol options, try pairing mocktails with sushi. For instance, instead of a lychee martini, make a non-alcoholic version with lychee juice, fresh lychee, and seltzer, and pair it with any kind of sushi or sashimi. You can also make a yuzu spritzer with fresh yuzu juice – you’ll find that the refreshing citrus taste of this mocktail pairs well with oily sushi. For a drink with a bit of a kick to it, extract the juice of a piece of ginger, a few cilantro leaves, and a medium cucumber, then pour it into a glass. Add lime seltzer or tonic for a refreshing drink that works well with fresh fish.


If you prefer to have non-alcoholic beverages with your sushi, there are lots of options. Consider having a glass of cold ginger ale, or lemonade made with the juice of freshly squeezed lemons to go with your sushi. Non-alcoholic cider will also pair well with sushi, particularly maki sushi. For those who prefer hot drinks, pair your sushi with konacha tea, which has a strong astringency to cleanse your palate.

Sushi is a dish that pairs well with a lot of beverages. Consider these sushi and beverage pairings and let us know what you think.


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