At the newly opened Social House at CityCenter, manager and sake sommelier Michael Humphrey divides his small-format (300 milliliter) sake menu into seasons for ultimate approachability: clean, mellow and sometimes floral for spring; fruity and with a sweet, smooth finish for summer; big-bodied and dry for fall; and cloudy, thick and cool for winter. Humphrey, who studied under acclaimed sake sommelier Eric Swanson, recommends the following sake pairing mates from the Social House menu:
Water Flows, Jozen Mizunogotoshi (Junmai Ginjo), $39, 300 milliliter.
Notes: Light and clean, with hints of citrus fruit and just a bit of heat on the finish.
Pair with: Raw fluke served with chili oil, soy salt, and citrus juice, $21.
Pride of the Village, Sato no Homare (Junmai Ginjo), $59, 300 milliliter.
Notes: From the oldest sake brewery in Japan (1146 A.D.) comes this fruit-forward, medium-bodied wonder with hints of cotton candy, anise and apple on the nose, and a lingering citrusy finish. “Honestly, I’d put this against any Junmai Dai Ginjo,” Humphrey says.
Pair with: Tuna Special, served with sweet chili sauce, crispy shallot and negi oil, $22.
Drunken Snapper, Narutotai (Ginjo Nama Genshu), $71, 720 milliliter.
Notes: Fruit forward and unique, with raw coco on the nose, lactic hints of milk, and a sweet fruit finish. Highly drinkable (watch out—18 percent alcohol!) and approachable, it pairs like a Super Tuscan or an Old Vine Zin.
Pair with: Sweet sesame prawns with baby celery, $18.
Gorgeous Devil, Kira (Honjozo), $65, 720 milliliter.
Notes: Big-bodied, bold and richly nutty. Earthy, mushroom flavors with a dry finish.
Pair with: BBQ Pork “Tocino” baby back ribs served with compressed watermelon, $15.
Cabin Flurries, Yuki No Bosha (Nigori Ginjo), $41, 300 milliliter.
Notes: A light-bodied, elegant nigori with gentle strawberry hints, and a peppery heat on the finish. Goes down like fresh snowmelt.
Pair with: Coco-Nuts, the coconut sugar-dusted doughnuts served with coconut lychee jam, $8.