A Craft Cocktail Menu That Celebrates The Japanese Zodiac


Guests at the Atlanta bar Himitsu can now sip their way through all 12 signs of the Japanese zodiac or Junishi. The Japanese craft cocktail lounge recently launched a drink menu that honors the animals representing each zodiac sign (Pictured atop: Dragon).

Developed by Himitsu creative director Shingo Gokan, the cocktails have personalities and defining characteristics like the animals of the Junishi. For instance, Gokan says, the Ne (mouse) brings to mind cheese, so the Ne cocktail is a Pisco Sour flavored with a hint of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The Tora (tiger) is a bourbon Old Fashioned flavored with butter and orange. The Junishi cocktails range in price from $16 to $19.

The by-reservation-only Himitsu (which translates to “secret” in English) opened in 2015. Gokan, who has also served as beverage director at Angel’s Share in New York, opened the Speak Low speakeasy in Shanghai in 2014. Winner of the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition in 2012, Gokan was named “International Bartender of the Year” at the Tales of the Cocktail 2017 Spirited Awards.

Gokan frequently picks up inspiration and tips from his travels. For example, some cocktails on the Himitsu menu are aged in a kame (Japanese clay pot). Others age in a cow leather bag, a process inspired by the mezcal fermentation Gokan observed at a distillery in Oaxaca, Mexico. For the Ushi (ox), Gokan combines a mezcal Negroni with mastiha Greek sap liqueur in a leather bag designed for aging ingredients and infusing earthy tones into the drink.

Here’s the full recipe for one of the Junishi cocktails at Himitsu:

Ne (Mouse)

Ne (Mouse)

1 ½ oz. Pisco
¾ oz. Sauternes
¾ oz. 2:1 Honey syrup
½ oz. Lemon juice
¾ oz. Egg white
1 drop Saline solution

Combine all ingredients in a Boston shaker and shake. Transfer contents to cobbler shaker and double strain into coup. Garnish with fresh grated parmigiano, dill and pink peppercorn.

Melissa Dowling is editor of Cheers magazine. Reach her at mdowling@epgmediallc.comRead her recent piece Talking Shop with Brittany DeLoach, Hard Rock Int. Beverage Director.

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