Don't get us wrong: We like sake bombs as much as the next guy. But limiting your experience with this fine beveragewith its dearth of hangover-promoting congenersto the one-dimensional, frat-boy approach is tantamount to swilling Wild Irish Rose in the Tuscan hills. And pigeonholing it as a sushi-only libation? That's just silly. Whatever the cuisine, says Beau Timken, author of Sake: A Modern Guide (Chronicle), there's a beautiful complement to be found in sake.* With some experimenting, you'll be pairing like a pro. Here's a few ideas from our expert to get you started.
Steak: Masumi Yamahai Junmai Ginjo ($32). "Good acidity. Works wonders with the fat and juice of beef, and rather than the big post-palate explosion of red wine, all the flavor stays forward on the taste buds."
Lobster: Mukune ($39). "Extracts lobster's natural sweetness, and its elevated acidity exalts the richness of the butter."
Pizza: Wakatake Onikoroshi Junmai Ginjo ($23). "Solid and rich, which stands up to the tomatoes' acidity, with a mellow fruitiness, like watermelon. Cuts through the cheese and oil."
Hot/Spicy: Nishinoseki Junmai ($24). "Sweet, soft, and creamy. Made for putting out flames."
*Avoid six-packs and go for the good stuff. (Try a high-end wine-and-spirits shop.) Serve chilled.
Or Mix It Up
Vodka saketini? No, thanks. If you're going to enjoy a cocktail with your favorite Japanese hooch, the sake should be the prevailing spirit. As it is in a little concoction we're calling...
The Outsider: 3 oz chilled sake (try a sweet nigori); 1 oz Cointreau orange liqueur; 1.5 oz chilled pomegranate juice (antioxidants, ho!). Stir with ice, strain into a martini glass, and serve with an orange twist.