Speakeasy


Bar Goto

New York City-Lower East Manhattan

4.7 / 5

May 11, 2018

Wafting over the sounds of cocktail shakers, corks popping off Champagne bottles and the Van Morrison soundtrack are the scents that make Bar Goto unique: Ginger, kombu, pickle, soy sauce and green tea flow pleasantly through the Japanese-influenced American-style bar on New York’s Lower East Side.

Kenta Goto, an award-winning mixologist who used to work at the nearby Pegu Club, had envisioned creating a local bar seeped with influence and ingredients from his native Japan, opening his namesake bar in 2015. The bar quickly became a local favourite, typically attracting not only regulars, but also those eager to taste some of the hype, when the doors open at 5 pm.

Japanese whiskeys, sake, shochu, an array of Western spirits as well as Champagne decorate Goto’s impressively stocked bar. The cocktail menu is split between Highballs like the refreshing and easily sippable Ume Fizz, which mixes Japanese plum brandy, Mirabelle and soda water, and more complex cocktails. On the latter half are creations like the popular and attractively bright green Kyoto Old Fashioned, a mixture of rice vodka, gin and two green teas – matcha and Sencha – that cleverly blends earthy and botanical tones. Another fan favourite is the Sakura Martini, the first drink Goto created for his project, which melds Junmai sake, gin, and Maraschino liqueur for an upscale take on the oft overplayed saketini. Salted cherry blossoms garnish the drink, an attractive and tasty substitute for a martini’s standard olive.

Though Bar Goto is not a restaurant, the small, dark space has become locally renowned for its short menu of Japanese-influenced bar snacks, like sticky miso wings, fresh celery sticks sprinkled with red shiso and sesame, and homemade potato chips served with red (spicy cod roe) or green (wasabi) dips. The okonomiyaki, savoury Japanese pancakes filled with meat, seafood, and in Bar Goto’s case, cheese or vegetables as well, are also a standout. Luring guests who planned to visit the bar just for a cocktail to stay for a meal, it is so easy to see how you end up having a feast, sampling your way through the four variations of the Japanese dish rarely seen in America.

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