Tag Archives: Japanese

Kiuchi No Shizuku: A gin-like spirit from Japan

16 Mar
Photo by Kevin Chan (http://flickr.com/crumbs)

Photo by Kevin Chan (http://flickr.com/crumbs)

Last night I dined at EN Japanese Brasserie, which serves some of the most authentic cuisine this side of the Pacific Ocean. In addition to the sweet and spicy Local Honey cocktail ($18), made with Yamazaki 12-year-old single malt whisky, Beefeater gin, honey, wasabi and bee pollen, I sampled a small pour of Kiuchi No Shizuku ($15) from Japan’s Kiuchi Brewery, the producer of the Hitachino Nest beer line. As a gin fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this 43-percent abv spirit, which is distilled from Hitachino Nest White Ale, a Belgian-style brew that features coriander, nutmeg, orange juice and orange peel. Additional coriander, hops and orange peel are incorporated during the distillation process, after which the spirit is aged in oak barrels for six months. The finished product is a pale golden color with a refreshing botanical flavor that’s reminiscent of gin minus the juniper. I sipped it over ice and loved the crisp taste of citrus and herbs, with a slight sweetness that mellows into a dry finish. I would also recommend drinking the spirit mixed with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and soda. Kiuchi No Shizuku is imported to the United States by specialty beer and spirits purveyor B. United International and can be found at Drink Up NY for $17.99 a 200-ml. bottle.


Exotic Experimentation: Ember Room’s cocktail menu gets an overhaul

18 Sep

Ember Room, the Asian-inspired barbecue restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen from chefs Todd English and Ian Chalermkittichai, has brought on “mixsultant” Joseph Boroski to inject some excitement into the previously unremarkable cocktail menu, which featured drinks like Sakejitos and Thai basil Juleps. Boroski picked up some local mixology techniques while consulting for Starwood hotels in Asia and has incorporated many of these ideas into 10 new cocktails ($12 to $14) for Ember Room.

On a recent visit, bartender Leigha served a slew of drinks from the updated menu. First up: the Korea Cosmo, which was by far the best Cosmopolitan I’ve ever had. It blends ginseng-infused Karlsson’s Gold potato vodka, orange peel–infused soju, fresh grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, pasteurized dried egg white and honey syrup. The cocktail was bright, balanced and not too sweet, with an added depth of flavor from the soju.

Next, I tried the Emotional Well-Being, featuring vodka that’s been infused with ginger, hot pepper, basil, star anise, and other herbs and spices. The spirit is stirred with lime juice and palm sugar syrup in a Japanese mixing glass, then poured over an ice sphere that contains julienned cucumber and pomegranate seeds. Garnished with smacked basil leaves, the aromatic concoction warms from the inside with a bite of heat in the back of the throat—perfect for fall.

Leigha followed up with a drink called A Thousand and One Nights, comprising Hendrick’s gin, muddled blueberries, oolong tea leaves, ground Sichuan pepper, curry powder, fresh lemon juice and palm sugar syrup. The cocktail is served in a glass rimmed with a blend of sugar and the same Eastern spices found in the drink, then topped with Fragoli strawberry liqueur. It’s a delicious combination of savory and sweet.

Continuing the oriental theme, the Chrysanthemum Gin Fizz incorporates the Asian flower and Bulldog gin, which contains Eastern botanicals like dragon eye, poppy and lotus leaves. The cocktail mixes the gin, house-made chrysanthemum syrup, fresh lemon juice and dried pasteurized egg white, topped with The Bitter Truth Creole bitters and a couple of dried chrysanthemums that have been soaked in plum wine.

I ended the evening with a caffeine kick. The Café Tarik features freshly brewed coffee and condensed coconut milk that’s “pulled” via a Malaysian method used in tea preparation (“tarik” means “pull” in Malay). The mixture is then poured over a blend of vodka and date honey in a traditional mug and topped with a coffee/coconut milk foam. The drink tasted like a boozy iced latte made with strong gourmet espresso and had just a touch of sweetness from the honey and the creamy coconut milk. If I only I could start my mornings with one of these every day!

The cocktail menu also includes a number of additional exotic cocktails that I didn’t get a chance to try this time around. Utilizing ingredients found in the food stalls of Bangkok, the Thai Streetside Ladyboy Daiquiri mixes light rum that’s been infused with pandanus fruit—which is native to the Pacific Islands and eastern Australia—with fresh pineapple and lime juices, palm sugar syrup, basil seeds and orange bitters. The Shake Me Make Me features kaffir lime leaf–infused Tequila, fresh cantaloupe, apple cider, lime juice and palm sugar syrup, topped with balsamic vinegar. And the Yao/Dao/Heu, comprising Sichuan pepper/oolong tea–infused sake, orange-infused soju, date honey, plum syrup and fresh lemon juice, is prepared in a custom-made cocktail shaker that’s modeled after a long-spouted Chinese teapot. I definitely plan to return to Ember Room soon so I can see it in action, though I doubt it will look anything like this video.

© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

Cuatro Kappou: Four at Yotel offers fresh Latin- and Asian-influenced fare

13 Jun

Chef Richard Sandoval, whose properties include Zengo, Pampano and El Centro, joined forces with the futuristic British hotel chain Yotel to launch a new multi-faceted concept in the hospitality brand’s New York City location, and I got the chance to preview the venue before its grand opening this week. Occupying the fourth floor of the hotel, Four comprises DohYo Restaurant, the outdoor Terrace and the Club Lounge. The entire space is dominated by sleek, white décor with Yotel’s signature purple accents, and the food and cocktails combine global flavors with a focus on Latin and Asian cuisine.
My friend Christina and I started on the Terrace, which features gorgeous views of the city, especially when the setting sun casts pink and orange hues across the western sky. I tried the Strawberry-Lychee Mojito, made with light rum, fresh strawberry purée, fresh lychee juice, and muddled lime and mint. The drink had a bright taste and a good balance of sweet and tart.
Christina chose the Blueberry-Shiso Caipirinha, mixing cachaça, fresh blueberry purée, torn shiso leaves and lime wedges muddled with raw brown sugar. The smoky spirit and aromatic herb complemented the cocktail’s fruity flavor.
Then we moved inside to sample a series of small plates from DohYo’s menu. The restaurant features Japanese-style seating at long, communal tables in the center, with tables and chairs encompassing the perimeter. The first item to arrive was the Seared Tuna Causa, which plays on the traditional Peruvian dish. A spicy mix of chopped fish, shallot, cilantro, capers and hard-boiled egg topped a mound of mashed purple potato that looked like Play-Doh, but tasted great.
Next, we got the Pozole Miso Soup, a take on the Columbian stew with a Japanese twist. The savory broth contained puréed tofu, salty seaweed, mildly hot gaujillo chili and starchy hominy kernals. The shredded red cabbage gave it extra texture and freshness.
The soup was followed by the Crunchy Shrimp, a spicy appetizer of tiny prawns doused in a lemon sake aïoli and sprinkled with sesame seeds, scallion and masago. It’s perfect bar food elevated to Sandoval elegance.
At this point, we were ready for another round of drinks. Christina ordered the Mango-Ginger Martini, blending vodka, mango purée, elderflower liqueur and muddled ginger. The mango flavor overpowered the subtle ginger, but it was a tasty cocktail nonetheless.
I opted for the Spicy Pepino Margarita, made with silver Tequila, sliced cucumber, serrano-citrus sour mix and pequin chili salt. The vegetal drink served as a refreshing palate cleanser.
The parade of plates continued with the Halibut Slider, which featured a piece of light yet firm fish topped with a breaded, fried tomato and a morita chili rémoulade sauce, served on a buttery bun. The sandwich is a less-greasy alternative to the usual ground-beef version.
The Black Cod was drizzled with a teriyaki-balsamic reduction and paired with briny pickled artichokes. Cooked to perfection, the delicate, flaky fish melted in my mouth.
Arriving at the same time as the cod, the Chinese Eggplant nicely complemented the fish with its flavors of sweet miso, peppery red chili, fresh diced tomato and chopped mint.
The final course before dessert was the Colorado Lamb Leg, a pulled pile of slow-roasted lamb topped with a creamy cucumber yogurt, which added some much-needed moisture to the well-cooked meat. The accompanying roasted potatoes and caramelized onions rounded out the hearty dish.
We ended the meal with a trio of desserts: a tangy Yuzu Strawberry Tart with lemongrass sorbet and angel food cake; a smoky chipotle Chocolate Cheesecake with blackberries; and a warm Hummingbird Toffee Cake, made with pineapple and banana, topped with sweet anise ice cream. All three were delicious and not too rich.
Located near Times Square in Hell’s Kitchen, Four at Yotel will definitely attract its fair share of tourists, but the nightlife and dining aspects may appeal to Manhattan residents looking for a trendy, tropical escape in the city. The Terrace features private cabanas that come with bottles of vodka or Tequila and fresh juices for mixing. Beer is available in 2-liter growlers, and a selection of signature cocktails—including the Passion Plantation Punch, Peach & Bourbon Tea and Sake Sangria—can be ordered by the pitcher, making it easy to party in style.

© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be used, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

Ahoy, Mateys: A new bar sails into Brooklyn to deliver punch bowls and Belgian brews

9 Feb

On a frigid Friday night in February, my husband and I dared to venture south of Grand Street to a new bar aptly dubbed The Drink on Manhattan Avenue in East Williamsburg. We came in out of the cold and were greeted by a blast of warm, humid air filled with the aroma of hot, cinnamony apple cider. Mismatched furniture, nautical knickknacks lining the off-white walls and the still-standing Christmas tree in the corner added to the homey vibe.

Flea market finds evoked Grandpa’s dusty library.

The well-lit place housed a healthy crowd huddled near the bar and scattered among the five or six tables. Luckily there was an open stool at the end of the counter, and I took a seat. I asked for a cocktail menu, which listed only punch bowls for $43 a pop that contain roughly 10 drinks. The venue does serve one punch by the glass—The Old Gunwhale ($6)—comprising Maker’s Mark Bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice, chamomile tea syrup and spiced cranberry bitters. The mug full of fragrant pink liquid, though iced, warmed my tummy.

The Drink’s hand-crafted cocktails feature fresh juices and herbs, as well as house-made tinctures and syrups. Other punch bowl include the Perfect Storm, mixing Coruba dark Jamaican rum, lime juice, green tea syrup, ginger syrup, Angostura bitters and soda, and the Resolution, blending Juvé y Camps Cava, Pierre Ferrand Cognac, apricot nectar, lemon juice and cinnamon syrup. A few patrons had opted for the super-sized portion, and a lovely fellow named Lee offered me a cup from his punch bowl, which he was sharing with a friend. They’d chosen the Charter, a concoction of Espolón Blanco Tequila, lime juice, ginger syrup, salt tincture, cassis syrup and soda, which was quite tasty—sweet and refreshing and you could barely taste the Tequila. Dangerous!

In addition to the punch bowls, The Drink offers three different Hot Toddies ($7), made with Scotch, orange and clove; Bourbon, lemon and cranberry; or Jameson Irish whiskey and smoked green tea. The delicious odor permeating the room came from the mulled Wassail Cider ($5), featuring apple cider, tart cherry, apricot and either Barbancourt rhum or Bourbon. Of course, The Drink also serves any cocktail upon request. The beer list comprises mostly Belgian labels (each $10 a bottle), such as La Botteresse Brune, a strong brown ale brewed with sage. There is also a variety of German, Australian, Japanese and American beers. The bar was out of Schlenkerla ($9), a smoked light lager from Germany, so my husband chose Full Sail Brewing’s Session Black lager ($5) from Hood River, Oregon. The Drink pours beer on draft as well.

With the quality of the cocktails and the beer selection, it’s not surprising that this place involves Brooklyn heavyweights like Frank Cisneros of Dram lounge, Will Jones of Spuyten Duyvil tavern and Matt Lang of Fette Sau BBQ. I’m not sure what they keep in this barrel, but I bet it’s something good.

© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be used, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.