Physical Address

304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124

“Keep” My Bottle (of Sake)

In Tokyo, many bars and restaurants offer a service known as bottle keep to their regular customers. As the name implies, if you order a bottle of liquor and are unable to finish it, the restaurant or bar will label it with the Kanji or Katakana (if you are a foreigner) characters for your name and “keep” it for you until you return. It’s a great way for businesses to ensure a return visit from you as they have your alcohol!

To give you an idea of why this type of service is popular, consider that a typical US beer is 12 ounces (355ml) and a typical bottle of sake in Japan can range from 750ml (a typical bottle of wine) to 1.8 liters. The alcohol content of sake is usually 15%, beer averages 5%, and a typical serving of sake is 180ml which means that you would have to have 10 drinks to finish off a 1.8 liter bottle – that’s the equivalent of over 15 beers! Most people are content after 2-3 servings of sake at one sitting so unless you are with a large group the bottle keep service will come in handy. Here’s the catch, don’t expect your bottle to still be there after a month, if unclaimed after that point the unused portion is poured down the drain.

The next time you are in a bar or restaurant in Tokyo look for the bottle keep area behind the bar or in a refrigerator. You will find that some establishments mark the “kept” bottles with simple tape and others have wooden labels that can be very simple or quite elaborate. The combination of different bottle shapes, sizes and the Kanji on the various labels is an interesting sight to ponder and the system itself is a testament to the trust and faith under which the Japanese operate on a daily basis.

Photo Credit: Sake Bottles