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As a former associate publisher at Food & Wine, owner Rick Smith knew his way around a wine list, but had always considered sake “something you just throw back.” A business dinner at Jewel Bako introduced him to premium sakes by the glass, and he became an enthusiast, visiting breweries and taking a professional sake course in Tokyo. In December 2007, he opened this wood-paneled shop with his wife, Hiroko Furukawa. The unintimidating set-up is ideal for novices, but the selection of 120 varieties will satisfy connoisseurs. Bottles are displayed on blond wooden shelves, each with a tag depicting its region, a flavor description (“earthy and mushroomy in the nose,” “hint of anise, honeydew flavors”), and pairing suggestions ranging from barbequed pork to pâté. The tags also note the milling rate—the degree the rice has been polished—alcohol percentage, and dryness. Bottles start at $11.99 for 300 ml and top out at around $100 for rare varieties brewed from underground stream water. The spot is a popular destination for hostess gifts, with labels modeling illustrations, vibrant foils, and artful Japanese characters translating to “Better Fortune” or “Drunken Whale.”