When gorging on sushi, sake makes for a reliably welcome companion to wasabi and soy sauce. But with its elegant bricks of duck-laden crispy rice and Serrano pepper-laced king mushrooms, West Village Japanese boîte Neta is hardly predictable.
Cocktails here are earthy and intriguing combinations that complement the cuisine. Enjoy one with a plate of cucumber-dressed fluke while peering into the open kitchen, or dine at the communal table; there is no raucous bar. As suggested by its namesake, the Japanese aesthetic of pure, simple beauty, the Shibui is a graceful and subtle drink. It comes courtesy of bartender Aaron Polsky, who if you're not lucky enough to catch in a guest appearance at Neta can be found across town at Amor y Amargo.
A swirl of three equal parts Hakushu 12-year-old single malt Japanese whisky ("light, smoky and well-balanced," according to Polsky); wild cherry- and quinine-infused Maurin Quina white wine; and Gran Classico Bitter liqueur, topped off with spicy-tart Bittermens Burlesque bitters and a dried cherry garnish, the amber-colored Shibui is "essentially a sixth cousin of the Negroni," as Polsky points out.
The Maurin Quina pops with fruit and almond notes, and it may soften the whisky on the palate, but it certainly doesn't lessen its might.
1 oz. Maurin Quina
1 oz. Hakushu 12-year-old single malt Japanese whisky
1 oz. Gran Classico Bitter10 drops Bittermens Burlesque Bitters
Build ingredients in a rocks glass. Garnish with dried cherries.