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Redeye January 15 2004

Sake Tume: They say love knows no boundaries. And (currently) I love expanding the boundaries of drinking. So, this week, we'll discuss sake.

It may, at first, seem a strange time to extol sake's virtues. After all, much winter drinking is dedicated to killing the cold, and sake is best when cold. But like much Asian food, sake offers a year-round comfort food factor. And if you're not quite ready to treat rice wine with the same reverence as that made from grapes, sake can also be experimented with in creatively diluted Western adaptations.

Of course, I won't even pretend to yet understand more than 10 percent of the esoterica surrounding sake — though like tequila and French wine, bottles of the disarmingly clear liquid are laden with clues. But here's a short localized round up for the round eye.

For the cultured crusty punk on a pub crawl, Teaspace in L5P offers the Sake Bomb — an Irish car bomb but with Anchor Steam Porter and a shot of unfiltered Nigori "pearl" sake, instead of whiskey. The former is a dark toffee malt, the latter a sweet, milky dollop lending itself to dirty jokes as you down it. For the less hearty of palate, try a Plum Blossom — a cocktail reminiscent of Cherry 7Up.

Located on the ground floor of the Windsor Condos at Peachtree and North Avenue, Miyako, a sake and surprisingly accomplished sushi bar, claims a "sake sommelier." The establishment offers a page of handpicked Junmai Ginjo-shu — traditionally, non-machine processed pure sake, i.e. "the good stuff." Momokawa is the common American sake producer, putting out prettily named, often infused sakes, but Miyako offers imports such as Kubota, the equivalent of a single malt. The descriptions are great, too. Dry, clean and fruity, not acidic and with little "tail" (aftertaste), as promised, the Kubota really did exhibit characteristics somewhat like banana cream pie.

For the less subtlety inclined, ease into a saketini, sake colada, sakirita or flavored sake shooter during Me Suke Suke, Miyako's Friday and Saturday night promotion, pouring till 2 a.m.

Finally, sample sake at MF Sushi on Ponce. Their sake selection is extensive and refined, as well. You can have Ozekei hot sake, stiff fortified Sho Chiku Bai or more Junmai Ginjo-shu. But have no fear: Fruit-freckled aperitifs are also available.

No matter where you try sake, to experience it fully, try pairing with different sashimi, not rolls. Why dip grapes in grape juice? And why try sake with rice, if you want to truly delve into sake's lovely character?

Keep one RedEye open. And send all comments, questions, observations and invitations to redeye@creativeloafing.com.