The land of the rising sun and great sake cocktails. (Alexis Jenkins/Baltimore…)
Oh hey, it's International Sake Week! You know what that means … wait, do you really?
Admit it: Your knowledge of sake — and mine — revolves around what sushi joint serves up Sake Bombs or that it usually comes hot or cold and always quite potent.
Could I tell you about the different styles of the popular Japanese spirit? Note a higher or lower grade by taste? Explain its production? Not a chance. But Tiffany Dawn Soto, beverage manager at the Four Seasons Harbor East, can — and then some. She's officially the Sake Sommelier at Michael Mina's Japanese pub, Pabu Izakaya. Coolest job ever? Definitely.
Pabu serves over 100 varieties of sake — each selected by Soto herself. Intimidated? I was. So where does the road to sake Zen master begin? Soto suggests starting your sampling through Pabu's popular cocktail, the Super X, which she describes as having "a punchy acidity and a touch of sweetness. With a sake base, it makes for an awesome bridge from cocktail drinker to sake introduction."
The drink starts with Junmai Ginjo, a premium sake; the "Junmai" distinction means that it is pure in form, devoid of added flavor, colors, or increased alcohol content. This smooth, rich quality was a nice contrast to the orange and subtle bitterness of Lillet Blanc, a French aperitif, and the bite of Yuzu juice, a sour Japanese citrus fruit. House-made falernum, a flavored syrup of cloves, ginger and almonds, sweetens the drink and brings the sake full circle- a perfectly tart finish.
But if that's not enough of a celebration, Soto and crew are marking this week's occasion with, among other offerings, complimentary sake happy hours from 6-7 p.m. through Friday and a late happy hour Saturday from 10 p.m.-close. Stop in for free mini-sessions on all things sake and stay for the Super X. Besides being a tasty gateway drink into the expansive world of sake, Pabu donates $1 of every order to tsunami relief efforts.
Get your sake party on, do a little good and enjoy the enlightenment. And for the record, Soto says sake is strictly a cold drink. Never, ever drink the stuff warm. Who says cocktails can't be educational?
How to Make the Super X
11/2 oz. Junmai Ginjo Sake
3/4 oz. Lillet Blanc
3/4 oz. House-made falernum
1/2 oz. Yuzu citrus Juice
1/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
Shake vigorously with ice. Double strain into a chilled large coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
Where to Get the Super X
725 Aliceanna St., Harbor East