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BARS + DRINK
Xavier Landais, the man responsible for
amassing the 215 bottles that line the
shelves of Sexy Fish, making it the
destination with the second-biggest
selection of Japanese whiskies in the
world, and the biggest selection in the UK.
To really drive the point home, an
encyclopaedic whisky menu makes a focal
point of five unadulterated classics,
including an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan
and a Whisky Sour, made with a mixture
of blends, grain whisky and single malts
from celebrated Japanese whisky names.
A second, more extensive, cocktail list
sees Landais and his team get creative
with recipes such as the Miso �irsty, an
aromatic coupe of Hibiki Japanese
Harmony stirred down with umeshu plum
liqueur, savoury miso and bittersweet
botanical liqueur Kamm & Sons. �e
pièce de résistance on this particular drink
is the careful garnish: a tiny origami bird
perched on a delicate frond of bamboo.
Another must-visit for those on the trail
of Japanese whisky is Shoreditch
newcomer Black Rock, with its lovingly
curated selection of 250 whiskies from
around the world. Intimate, subterranean
and utilitarian, this hideaway wouldn't feel
out of place in Tokyo's Ginza. And the
cocktail list owes a lot to Tokyo, too,
devoting five of the 10 entries to the drink
that transformed Japanese whisky's
fortunes on its home turf: the Highball.
"�e Highball is one of the best drinks
going," says Black Rock owner Tristan
Stephenson, whose regular trips to Japan
played a big part in shaping the concept.
"Just the classic whisky and soda is
fantastic, but there are so many variations
you can do too, mixing whisky with green
tea, or coconut water, or even just Coke."
�at said, the whisky and Coke on
Black Rock's list isn't just an ordinary
whisky and Coke - it's one made with
peated single malt, homemade cola and
lemon salt. Other Highballs include Rice,
a refreshing, slightly savoury blend of
Nikka from the Barrel, genmaicha (green
tea and roasted brown rice), sake and
coconut water, and the 1 of your 5, a tangy
long drink of blended whisky, cider
vinegar and lavender (believe me, it
works). Even the humble mizuwari
serve - Japanese for 'whisky and water'
- is given a bespoke twist with the
water (and accompanying ice) coming
from the springs of Islay.
And don't forget the mocktails - at
ramen bar Tonkotsu, the lip-smacking
selection of cocktails includes tempting
virgin options such as the Yuzu Lemonade
made with yuzu juice, apple and soda. �e
real stand-out at Tonkotsu restaurants,
though, is their Japanese whisky selection
- it might not be as extensive as the one at
Sexy Fish, but the staff really know their
stuff, and there's always something new or
obscure to try on the back bar. And if that
sounds just like your cup of sake, keep an
eye out for Tonkotsu's new bar and
restaurant Anzu, which opens in St
James's in September…
Alice Lascelles is the author of
Ten Cocktails: �e Art of Convivial
Drinking (£14.88, Saltyard).
For reviews of all the bars featured,
AKASHITAI JUNMAI GINJO
Sip chilled as an aperitif or try it in
place of Champagne in a French 75.
Highly collectible Islay single malt
finished in a rare mizunara (Japanese
oak) cask for a touch of coriander and
incense. The 2,000 bottles are long
sold out, so if you see it, snap it up.
ENAMOR YUZU LIQUEUR
A sherbety, limoncello-style liqueur
great for giving citrus cocktails such as
a Margarita or an Aviation a Japanese
twist. £36.99/70cl, selfridges.com
HIBIKI JAPANESE HARMONY
The latest blend from the awardwinning
notes of orange and spice make this
great Highball material. £51.45/70cl,
An ultra-refined gin from the boutique
Cambridge Distillery made with
shiso, sansho, sesame and yuzu.
Great in a Martini. £56.95/70cl,
AND FOR YOUR JAPANESE
Cocktail Kingdom has a selection of
imported shakers, bar spoons, jiggers
and ice picks. cocktailkingdom.co.uk
'I DON'T THINK THERE'S ANY CLASSIC WHISKY
COCKTAIL THAT DOESN'T TASTE AS GOOD � IF
NOT BETTER � WITH JAPANESE WHISKY'
SEXY FISH'S MISO