Best sake lounge - 2000
Mori Japanese Restaurant
The original bar at Nisei Post 185 was a dark, smoky lounge, a room frequented by artists and working men and craggy-bearded World War II veterans back in the days when the post catered to downtown's burgeoning Japanese population and the term "LoDo" would have been laughed at. But now there's a valet outside to park your car, and inside, the once-dingy bar has been turned into a groovy sake lounge complete with vivid lighting and a waiting area for folks who want to dine in the restaurant. But that restaurant, Mori, is largely unchanged, and when it took over the bar operation, it added several classic Mori features. The dining-room menu, for example, is a takeoff on the Tokyo subway system, with a dizzying array of possibilities -- and so the bar's sake list is enormous, too, the largest in town, with 36 sakes, as well as sake-based cocktails, to choose from. Although it all tastes like so much lighter fluid to the uninitiated, true sake aficionados -- a population that appears to be growing -- will appreciate the selection. While not totally representative of the 1,800 sake breweries in Japan, this roster still manages to offer some highlights from the very sweet to the very dry. If you know what the phrase ginjo-shu means, Mori is your man.