Brand It Like Beckham: Brooklyn Beckham Launches Sake Brand Inspired by Community and Culture
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As the son of a soccer legend and a global popstar-turned-acclaimed designer, Brooklyn Beckham knew he had a lot to live up to when it came to career accomplishments. The other thing he knew: he had to do things his way — and on his own time.
After years of dabbling in modeling and freelance photography, Beckham is finally ready to launch his first, full-fledged endeavor. And when it came time to launching his own business, the 23-year-old decided to pivot — or bend, if you will — to something that was completely different from his family, yet somehow still totally him.
That’s the premise behind WESAKE, a new canned sake brand co-founded by Beckham and longtime beverage entrepreneur Pablo Rivera. Rooted in the Japanese values of sharing and community, Beckham sought to find a way to bring the traditional spirit to the masses, while paying respect to one of his favorite cultures and countries.
Beckham says he hopes WESAKE takes the intimidation factor out of drinking sake, which many still see as a “niche” beverage category. And while the budding chef may not be the first person you think of when you think of sake, Beckham says his goal to promote sake in a new market is not something he takes lightly.
“I’ve always had a profound respect and intrigue for Japanese culture, and am fortunate that I’ve learned so much more about sake since then,” Beckham tells Rolling Stone. “With my lifelong fascination with all things Japanese, from cuisine to fashion to craftsmanship, I’m so impressed with the craft and precision behind sake brewing.”
Sake is a fermented rice beverage that has been brewed in Japan for more than 2,000 years. While it’s usually served in large bottles, WESAKE serves up the spirit in an easy-to-drink can, though the liquid inside is still made traditionally, in partnership with one of the oldest sake breweries in Japan.
“Sake deserves attention,” Beckham asserts; “there’s a gap in the road. Everyone’s tried it, but most don’t know the history behind it. I’m still learning a lot about the category myself [but] I’m excited to share my journey in sake education and I’m hopeful WESAKE will help others understand that you can enjoy sake anywhere, anytime, with any food, and with anyone.”
Rolling Stone caught up with Beckham to talk about his first memories of sake, misconceptions about the beverage that he’s hoping to change, and the artists that make up his perfect sake drinking soundtrack.
What was your first experience drinking sake? What did you drink?
My first time trying sake was in London at a little five-seater Omakase place, where the sake was served cold and in traditional Masu cups. As soon as I sipped it, I was like, “Am I really drinking alcohol?” because it was so nice to drink. Even before WESAKE came about, it’s been the easiest drink for me – I love how bright and refreshing it is.
What do you like about sake over other alcoholic drinks?
Sake was immediately intriguing to me because it’s just four ingredients: rice, water, koji and yeast. And yet, for such simple ingredients, it’s bursting with flavor. Through my travels and love of cooking, I have experimented with flavors from around the world, but nothing quite compares to when I was introduced to sake.
As a big foodie and chef, what do you like to pair sake with?
I love that sake easily has a place in everything from cooking to kicking back. I’m still exploring more ways to use it in the kitchen, and so far I have found it to be very versatile – everything from Beef Wellington to Miso Black Cod. While I’m on the stove, sake’s always in the fridge for my guests to enjoy. I love the way it brings people together.
What are some misconceptions people have about sake, especially here in the Western world?
People may be quick to disregard sake because they can’t read the label, or aren’t quite sure what it is that makes sake so delicious. It’s a category that has yet to be demystified in the mainstream, which can lead to misconceptions about what sake is at its core. Rice is the basis of all sake, and – in very simplified terms – various categories of sake are distinguished based on how much that rice is polished.
Sake fascinates me as a drink that is rich with tradition and history, having been brewed for over 2,000 years. As I work to continuously educate myself, I find it exciting to know that I have so much left to learn. My goal is to use my voice to introduce the category to others while sharing delicious WESAKE cans with friends old and new along the way.
What was it about WESAKE that made you want to jump on board vs. other brands?
WESAKE was a no-brainer for me since it marries all the things I love: flavor, my culinary interests and bringing people together. From first looking at the product, I could tell WESAKE would help make sake accessible – the simple and eye-catching design describes the taste right on the can (Dry, Light, Fruity), making it a straightforward option.
After meeting Pablo Rivera, the founder of WESAKE, I felt we had an instant connection. I was so impressed by his knowledge and excitement for sake, and through him I’ve been able to meet and begin building relationships with the leading authorities in the category.
I am by no means an expert – yet – but I’m thrilled to be on the journey of learning and sharing my passion. I want everyone to have that same feeling I did when I first tried sake.
How do you like to drink sake and serve sake?
You can have sake at any time of the day, in any setting, paired with any food, and alongside anyone. WESAKE was created with convenience in mind – always accessible and fun for everyone. Our name, WESAKE, is an invitation to discover sake together, so naturally I like to enjoy it best with company.
I don’t have my mates over without bringing out the WESAKE – anything from casual snacking to a dinner party to a movie night is complemented by sake. I’ll use it in my cooking, as mentioned with the Beef Wellington recipe above, and continue to experiment with it in my recipes.
What’s on your perfect sake drinking soundtrack?
Have you discovered any Japanese artists from your travels to Japan?
I’m more familiar with K-pop: I just started listening to BTS after their concert in LA and am getting into Blackpink now that they are headlining Coachella. I’m excited to begin listening to some J-Pop now and am open to suggestions!
What other artists have you been listening to recently?
Post Malone and Harry Styles.
Why should 2023 be the year of sake?
Sake deserves to be seen as an everyday drink! Pablo and I have a shared passion for sake and its future, and have all the confidence that we’ll be able to build sake up to the place it deserves.
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