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.