A unique wet martini with the taste of Spring.|Suntory ROKU ×Mifune New York

Spring is the season New Yorkers most look forward to. Non-barrel aged white spirits such as gin and vodka are recently popular on the NY bar scene. Particularly gaining attention are high quality craft spirits made with care. ROKU, a premium craft gin from Japan that first hit the United States in 2017, stands out among many. Its appeal lies in its delicate and multi-layered flavor that no other gin has. At the Manhattan Japanese restaurant "Mifune New York," local gourmets can enjoy special cocktails using ROKU exquisitely paired with the restaurant's elegant dishes.

Japan's four seasons captured in a Premium Craft Gin.

Roku's stylish bottle design reflects a Japanese sense of dignified beauty.

ROKU is the company's first white spirit, created as a joint development by Suntory Spirits and Beam Suntory, a US-based company. "Roku" means "six" in Japanese. One of its major features is that in addition to the eight kinds of botanicals such as juniper berry commonly used for traditional gin, ROKU includes six Japanese botanicals  (cherry blossoms, cherry leaves, green tea, gyokuro green tea, sansho pepper and yuzu citrus ). Each element used for this premium craft gin is harvested during its proper season and carefully blended and distilled through Japanese fine technology, taking into account the special characteristics of each of those elements. The completed “ROKU” is a gem that unites the natural beauty of the four seasons in Japan. ROKU's seasonal graceful fragrance and delicate and smooth taste are well-known among New York mixologists as the finest Japanese craft gin. 

"ROKU" Wet Martini, capturing the freshness of early Spring.

"ROKU x Wet Martini" , a cocktail with a feeling of "Spring in New York."

At Midtown Manhattan's high end Japanese restaurant, "Mifune New York," one can find special pairings of original dishes with exquisite cocktails using ROKU.The restaurant is named for the late actor Toshiro Mifune. These pairings are very popular with local gourmets. Noted mixologist Shingo Gokan, the winner of the 2012 Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition, serves as an official advisor to the restaurant, helping them create innovative cocktails.For spring, Mr. Gokan created "ROKU x Wet Martini." New Yorkers love a good martini, a classic and simple cocktail typically made with gin and bergamot. Mr. Gokan delivered his own twist inspired by ROKU's balance of unique elements. For his recipe, he chose plant ingredients including spearmint, rosemary and lemongrass that were close to the botanicals featured in ROKU in order to create a sense of the fresh green feeling of springtime New York. ROKU's Japanese botanicals combined with the freshness of the young leaves of the other plant ingredients create harmony and balance.  

 It tastes like a glass of "early spring in New York."   

ROKU x Wet Martini

A wet martini with a smooth feel.

ROKU x Wet Martini 

ROKU 25ml
Cocchi Americano Bianco 20ml
Mancino Secco Vermouth 20ml
Seed Lip Garden (Non-alcoholic) 5ml
Garnish with olives

A soup with duck ham and spring vegetables.

The light green asparagus and pale pink duck ham makes one think of spring flowers.

Next, the restaurant's executive chef, Yuu Shimano, came up with a colorful soup made with spring vegetables and homemade duck ham to pair with the cocktail. The soup's lovely colors of bright green and cherry blossom pink pop against white ceramic. 

"For this pairing, I was particularly conscious of ROKU's cherry blossom element," said Shimano. "The dish includes duck ham, and onion mousse along with asparagus, a spring vegetable. A warm egg, also symbolic of spring, is placed underneath. The soup is made of asparagus puree and duck bouillon. The ingredients are tied together with the subtle sweetness of muscat. The duck ham provides the dish's strongest taste, which matches very well with ROKU's cherry blossom flavor." With that in mind, great care is taken in preparing the duck ham, Shimano further explained. "First the meat is marinated in herbs and spices including fennel, star anise, cloves and thyme that balance well with the flavor of cherry blossoms and cherry leaves. Then it is left in the refrigerator for two days, then smoked and later cooked at a low temperature." The result is a masterpiece in which you can fully enjoy all the details of its preparation.

A fresh paring with a sense of Japanese seasons.

Warm spring eggs beneath the onion mousse add to a presentation with a beautiful color palette.

As you lift a spoonful of the egg along with the onion mousse, the duck and the asparagus, the gentle sweetness of spring vegetables combined with the other ingredients spreads out on the palate. A sip of the cocktail then refreshes in an instant, while the cocktail's botanicals and the dish's ingredients linger slowly. 

"I was struggling to find the perfect mix of spices to use to be comparable with the base," said Chef Shimano. "The martini cocktail is originally meant to cleanse the palate. The dish's taste must be connected to the finish." The logic of taste is something only the chef knows. "I once again realized the difficulty of pairing," he added. Yet the result reveals his skill in creating such a precise and exquisite pairing. 

Aiming for greater heights

Chef Shimano has a proven track record as a Chef de Partie at Paris's three-star Michelin restaurant, "Guy Savory."

This is the final edition of our Mifune New York pairing series with Mr. Gokan and Chef Shimano, which has appeared during the past 2years. The cocktails and dishes created by their edgy sensibilities and attention to detail in this collaboration delighted customers.

"There are many stories behind ROKU, but I'm particularly sympathetic to Suntory's founder, Shinjiro Torii, who took on the challenge of sticking to Japanese-made products that are highly regarded overseas," said Shimano. For chef Shimano, whose experience was honed at a famous Parisian restaurant, pairing dishes with cocktails was a fresh challenge.  "Pairing wasn't easy," he said. "However, I value the spirit of Japanese culture, and always want to find new challenges to test my skills acquired in France and New York. This pairing is a dish that pulled out the essence of ROKU. I'm pleased to have created a product that is worthy of the final round in this series. "

Mifune New York opened in 2017, the same year ROKU entered the US market. Since then it has been earning rave reviews on the city's restaurant scene. Just as Shinjiro Torii once set out towards the larger world with great aspirations, the young samurai chef of MIFUNE New York struggles every day to hone his craft while aiming for the top tier in this land.  XXX


Mifune New York

Mifune New York

245 East 44th Street. New York 10017
+1(212) 986-2800
Lunch 11:30-14:30 (Monday to Friday), * Last Order 14:00 Dinner 18:00-23:30 (Monday to Friday), 18:00-23:30 (Saturday) * Last Order 22:30

Photographs & Text by Kayoko Ogawa

更新: 2021年4月19日