Bar Goto

New York City-Lower East Manhattan

4.7 / 5

May 11, 2018

Elegant Lower East Side bar from Pegu Club alum Kento Goto, serving up Japanese-themed riffs on classic cocktails and izakaya-style small bites.

This gem of a bar from longtime Pegu Club bartender Kento Goto celebrates the art of meticulous Japanese-influenced cocktails in an elegant, yet comfortable setting. Located in a historic tenement building behind an unmarked (but obvious) door, the (generally) friendly doorman helps manage afterwork crowds (in the later evening the crowd shifts to cocktail cognoscenti). The narrow space is elegantly underlit, highlighting the variegated blonde-and-dark wood bar and shelving. Sit at the bar, stand at the wall or grab one of the few seats to enjoy cocktails and izakaya-style Japanese small bites (sashimi, miso chicken hotwings, grilled cheese with beech mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes or okonomiyaki pancakes). It’s the elevated drinks ($15 each) where Goto’s years of training in NYC and Japan really shine through (he was awarded Best American Bartender of the year at the 2011 Spirited Awards at New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail). Delicate garnishes like the cherry blossom flower in the Sakura Martini (sake, gin, maraschino liqueur) and intriguing “glassware” like the wooden box the Improved Shochu Cocktail (barley shochu, aged gin and hop liqueur) are just the sorts of carefully conceived embellishments the establishment needs to perfect the experience. Seasonal drinks rotate out and update the nine-drink menu.