One of my fondest pre-pandemic Martini memories is slipping into the bar at Katana Kitten. Well, you can’t exactly slip quietly. One step into the vivacious Japanese-American bar and patrons are greeted by a wave of cheers from the all-too-welcoming staff. Here, shots are frequent, drinks are quirky, and energy is contagious.
It’s this air of conviviality that secured the bar the title of Best New American Cocktail bar at last year’s Tales of the Cocktail Awards.
What’s particularly excellent about bartender Masahiro Urushido’s first solo project is it combines the quiet formality of the pristine Japanese cocktail bars that pepper the east village with the raucous energy of a true Japanese Golden Gai bar. Enthusiastic and silly, the only thing the bar takes seriously is the cocktails.
There are Old Fashioned snow cones, bright blue drinks spiked with calpico, a Japanese soda, and one particular shining star on the menu: the Hinoki Martini.
It’s a woodsy Martini riff that walks around the back bar—it includes vodka, gin, sherry, and sake, garnished with a pine leaf. The cooling, forest-inspired drink is served in a stemless wine glass served in a masu box filled with ice, meaning, even till the last sip, it’s icy cold.
Overall, the drink is harmonious, elegant, and smooth enough to ease you into a five o’clock lull.
1 1/4 ounces Grey Goose vodka
1 1/4 ounces Spring 44 Mountain Gin
1/2 ounce Lustau Fino Sherry Jarana
5 dashes hinoki tincture (if you don’t have hinoki, try pine essence)
5 spritzes hinoki tincture
Combine all ingredients except tincture in a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled, about 15 seconds.
Garnish with lemon twist, olive, rakkyo (a Chinese onion) and cypress leaf.