Jul 15, 2022 - Food and Drink

Proper Saké opens Rice Vice bar in East Nashville

A bar with stools.
Photo: Alex Crawford/courtesy of Proper Saké

The craft saké bar Rice Vice is now open in East Nashville.

  • Rice Vice will be the new tasting room for owner Byron Stithem's award-winning Proper Saké, which closed the doors at its previous location in the early months of the pandemic. Stithem will also curate a list of sakés from Japan.

Why it matters: There's a craft brewery in pretty much every Nashville micro-neighborhood you can think of. But Proper Saké is the city's lone saké brewery, and one of just 24 in the country.

Driving the booze: Stithem is a fermentation nerd who came up through the ranks of Nashville's restaurant scene before launching Proper Saké.

  • His rice beer Koji Gold is particularly popular and can be found in bars and liquor stores across the Nashville area.

What he's saying: Stithem tells Axios his vision for Rice Vice was to create the "bar of my dreams" that reflects his drinking experiences in Japan.

  • "That means it can't just be all saké that I make. There's that component. But I think it's really awesome to pour saké for people that they've never had before."

Details: The launch of Rice Vice and revival of the Proper Saké brewing operation was as DIY as it gets. The bar is located at 3109 Ambrose Avenue, a mostly industrial strip off East Trinity Lane.

  • Stithem and his father-in-law hand-built the bar and seating area. Other than a few components, Stithem built his four-tank brewing system by hand, too.
  • Rice Vice will also offer ice-cold highball cocktails and beers in addition to the craft-brewed Proper sakés, which won two gold medals at last year's prestigious New York World Wine and Spirit Awards.

Flashback: Proper Saké closed its previous Pie Town tasting room in the spring of 2020 just as Stithem was hunting for a new, expanded location.

  • The process was delayed at least a year by the pandemic, Stithem estimates.

What's next: Stithem says he has two of his four brewing tanks up and running. The goal for the rest of the year is to ramp up production and begin bottle deliveries, which will be available in 48 states.

  • Rice Vice will have several food trucks operating this week in conjunction with its grand opening. The bar also has a robust collection of vinyl that will provide the soundtrack to Stithem's vision.
  • "I really am just super passionate about this slew of items," he says. "One way or another, whether it's the most wise business decision or not, something like this is what I always wanted to do."

If you go: Rice Vice is open at 4pm Wednesday through Friday and at 1pm on Saturday and Sunday.

👋 Nate and Adam's take:

  • We couldn’t resist visiting Rice Vice on opening day.
  • We went for the crisp and refreshing highballs, the perfect antidote for a heatwave.

The intrigue: We first became Proper Saké regulars in 2018. The unique menu drew us in, but the warm, laid-back vibe kept us coming back.

  • We made ourselves at home, and regaled our very patient bartender Courtney with long and meandering inside jokes and stories.

Editor's note: Nate and Adam became friendly with Stithem by way of a weekly happy hour tradition.

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