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Raise Your Glass: Super X, Pabu Izakaya

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

Pabu Izakaya

725 Aliceanna St., Harbor East

410-233-1460

pabuizakaya.com

$10.88

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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