Richie Hawtin is someone who never seems to lose the thirst to educate himself and so it is perhaps unsurprising that he is in love with one of the smartest countries in the world: Japan. That includes their sake culture – and it now forms an integral part of his ENTER club night at Space in Ibiza. The catch-all sub-line for the night is “ENTER. Music. Sake. Technology. Experience.” Something about that just sends a shiver up and down our spine. Sign us the fuck up. For ENTER.Sake Richie has selected one of the best sake brands in the world, hailing from a 13th-century brewery in the ancient city of Kyoto. Guests can enjoy SOOKU in three different flavors and strengths: black, silver and gold.
The concept at ENTER.Sake is simple: to have big name DJs in a small space and get everyone enjoying sake – and boy is it working. Maya Jane Coles, Jamie Jones, Luciano, Nina Kraviz and Disclosure are just some of the acts that have played there (to magical effect as we understand). Richie will often jump behind the bar and serve up the sake himself (he is professionally trained). There he can enjoy a rare normal moment, chatting with guests and friends before the real ENTER madness kicks off later. Highsnobiety got five minutes with our favorite sake sommelier techno overlord about his love for this unique drink and how it’s going down on the White Isle.
Hi Rich! So tell us, what is it about sake that you love so much?
Sake is just such a great club drink. I’ve always liked the buzz I get when I drink it. The drink really fits with the club experience I think. Better than other stuff people are drinking. But what I really love is that in Japan, sake culture is that it’s a shared drink; it’s about gathering friends together in a small and trusted environment. Everyone they know is there and it’s about bonding and talking, basically. I saw that and loved that and wanted to introduce it in Ibiza in our club concept ENTER. So we introduced “ENTER. Sake” where you can go to first to warm up, meet friends, and enjoy really quality sake.
Was creating a smaller environment important?
Yes, very. Being a promoter, it’s sometimes hard to make time for down time, so the bar is a great place to come for an early drink before all the craziness. You can have a real conversation and see friends. Probably they never used to leave the house that early but now they do.
What was it that really drew you to sake in the first place?
I actually think sake culture is a lot like the independent record label industry. I like that it’s only about only working with people you really trust and being very selective. Every sake brand has their own identity and history and does their own thing and with a lot of integrity because it’s whole reputation is riding on it.
A lot of people haven’t really drunk sake before, unless they are fans of Japanese food and sushi.
Even people who do eat sushi have never tried it. So I’m really happy to introduce more people to it. It’s great to be that conduit and to open people’s minds to this drink.
How long did it take to find to find the right sake for ENTER?
It’s been a two-year process. I went to Japan many times and visited the breweries, gaining their trust and slowly building a working relationship and getting everything ready for ENTER.Sake. They have a 13th-generation heritage inside the sake industry. Integrity is everything. They will only work with people they trust completely.
Sounds like you could understand that sensibility?
Yeah absolutely. Actually I can see a lot of comparisons between the independent record industry and the sake industry. Whether I’m releasing a record on minus or making a sake – it has to be the best quality possible – there are thousands of people around the world who do listen to what I say, so I have to respect that position of being a tastemaker and only release the very best stuff. It’s the same way I don’t sign every artist that approaches minus, you have to say no sometimes, or ask them to come back in a year or two when they are more mature and can deliver something better.
And finally you decided on SOOKU sake?
Yes. We are the only people allowed to export SOOKU to Europe. It’s a very exclusive collaboration and I feel privileged to work with them. If we are going to bring people together to drink sake, it has to be the best in the world, and that is SOOKU for sure.
And are you planning on opening more sake bars, perhaps one in your adopted hometown of Berlin?
We are definitely looking at bringing sake bars to Berlin but first we are just focusing on Ibiza and ENTER. Once this season closes we will all be back in Berlin and then for sure we will put our heads together and see what we come up with. I will keep you posted.
Richie’s Guide to ENTER. Sake:
Soft and silky with sweet rice-like notes with good sustain – a slightly sharp finish.
Elegant notes of pear and yellow peach perfectly balanced with a sense of coolness and lingering sophistication. This is a real hit at the new Sacca restaurant in Ibiza – where I’ve selected the sake list.
Hugely popular at ENTER. at Space. I wonder why? The name seems to excite people! Contains sake, Kam & Sons, umeshu, aloe vera juice, black sesame and green tea! A great combination.
Last season’s biggest seller at Space for ENTER. So many requests, we had to bring it back. Named after my music label, it displays the perfect power of ginger with orange flavor and a good balance of sake.
Ibiza’s next-level Asian-fusion dining experience. It felt the perfect place for me to select my own sake list for the people of Ibiza outside of what we do at Space every Thursday. A destination experience, created by a good friend Jonathan Thorogood of El Chiringuito restaurant fame.
Visit the ENTER experience website for more information.
Text & Interview by Liz McGrath / Highsnobiety