The first of three cocktails I had this evening at the
Mixologist Yuriko Naganuma is serious about
her craft -- but friendly enough when you get to
discussing cocktails and all manner of alcohol ;b
Ever since Roy, my favorite bartender at Bar Butler, left the employ of that Japanese cocktail bar in Tsim Sha Tsui a few months back, I've not felt the urge to head over there for an evening out. And despite ordering Vesper Martinis at more than one drinking establishment which purports to make good cocktails, I've not had anything anywhere else approaching the superb Vesper Martinis that he made at Butler... until this evening at the Bar High Five pop up bar-within-a-bar at the Mandarin Landmark's MO Bar.
In retrospect, I guess this was to be expected since Bar High Five is commonly considered to be one of the best cocktail bars in Tokyo, and the Japanese are pretty much unparalleled as far as cocktail bars go. But, then, I'd been to pop up bars with great reputations before at the MO Bar (I'm looking at you, Please Don't Tell, aka PDT!) and came away thinking the food ("designer" hot dogs created by the likes of David Chang, truffle fries, tater tots with cheese and jalapeno, etc.) had been the best part of the evening rather than the cocktails!
Also, if truth be told, I found Bar High Five's signature White Lady too weak to be truly satisfying (even while detecting a hint of absinthe -- or at least something aniseedy -- as the end note of the cocktail that's supposed to just consist of gin, contreau, lime juice and egg whites!). However, things got significantly more promising when I asked resident bartender Yuriko Naganuma if my second drink -- a custom herbal-themed cocktail whose ingredients included gin, green chartreuse, shisho liqueur and lime juice -- could be stronger and she suggested a different gin to ensure that this'd be the case.
And after I asked her whether I could go "off menu" for my third cocktail because I liked to have a Vesper Martini, the beam on her face got me realizing that I was in safe hands. And so it proved, with her creation of a Vesper Martini which, interestingly, was more colorful than the previous ones I've had -- and also was so sublime that I couldn't help but sigh with happiness as well as smile with great pleasure!
Midway through drinking that complex- , yet delicate-, tasting Vesper, I got to thinking that I'd not be able to have one approaching it in quality unless I flew over to Tokyo and got myself a surely not-easy-to-get seat at Bar High Five. But before I started crying into my drink, Yuriko-san broke the wonderful news that, starting next month, she'll be head bartender at Bar de Luxe, set up by Bar High Five owner and chief bartender Hidetsugu Ueno and his Hong Kong partners!
Suffice to say that I'm looking forward to spending an evening drinking at Bar de Luxe before too long. And yes, I think it'd be a good move to begin my imbibing with a Vesper Martini there, before seeing what other delicious concoctions Yuriko-san (and her team) will be able to mix up... ;b