Mountain Hai!

Does staying out until last call make you miss first chair? Stick with sake.

APRÈ;S-SKI DRINKS ARE as much a part of a day on the slopes as snow, but hangovers can kill plans for fresh tracks. So what's a sociable shredder's best bet? Sake. With few congeners—hangover-inducing by-products of fermentation—and no histamines or sulfites, sake may be the cleanest-burning fuel on the market. "I think it's purer than other alcoholic beverages," says alternative-health guru Dr. Andrew Weil. "It's freer from the chemical compounds that cause the negative effects." A study last year in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry even suggests that organic acids in sake can protect the skin against UVB rays. And with imports up 30 percent between 2003 and 2004, American drinkers have more options than ever before, including 11 varieties from Oregon's SakeOne, the first American-owned sake brewery. A word of advice: Serve chilled. "The fruity, floral complexities get bludgeoned out of existence when it's heated," says American sake sommelier John Gauntner, the only non-Japanese person to have won the Kikizake Meijin award for "accomplished sake taster."

Four can't-go-wrong bottles from Beau Timken, owner of the San Francisco store True Sake (

Let loose with a big kampai! at one of these ski-town sushi dens. » Mamasake, Olympic Valley, California In the base village at Squaw Valley, with ski and snowboard flicks on the big screen. 530-584-0110, » Nikai Sushi, Jackson Hole, Wyoming Wyoming's largest sake selection, plus late-night, DJ-fueled crowds on weekends. 307-734-6490, » Shabu, Park City, Utah Everything from top-shelf bottles like Shuzuku Divine Droplets ($110) to unsolemn creations like chocolate saketinis. Live music nightly. 435-645-7253 » Kenichi, Aspen, Colorado A downtown Aspen favorite. Manager Scott Brasington offers impromptu sake primers for the uninitiated. 970-920-2212,

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