Going 10 Rounds With Top Bartender Masahiro Urushido
The head bartender at New York’s Katana Kitten bar tackles our speed round of questions.
What do you like to drink after a shift? “The coldest can of Sapporo Beer that’s been stuck in the bottom of the ice bin.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? ““Heroes” by David Bowie.”
What drink should be banished and why? “I like almost all beverages that have alcohol in them.”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “The Shiso Mojito made by Antonio Suzuki at Tokyo’s Tableaux Lounge in 2001. He is one of my senseis, who taught me classic Japanese bartending techniques.”
What book on cocktails or spirits is your go-to resource? “Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence was an eye-opening book from me. It helped me to work more rationally.”
What’s your favorite bottle of booze that costs less than $25? “Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-in-Bond.”
What’s your favorite bottle of booze that costs more than $100? “Chivas Regal Icon. This is a very special whisky. Mr. Colin Scott chose very rare casks to blend together, some of which are from now closed distilleries. My bottle of Icon, which I keep at home, was a gift from my great friend Max Warner for my daughter’s birth last year and it tastes absolutely special.”
What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “Dry Plymouth Martini (with both a twist and an olive) and a medium-rare ribeye steak at Sweetwater Restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “My Shiso Gin & Tonic for the Katana Kitten menu. It’s a simple and delicious drink (Fords Gin, fresh lime juice and a house-made shiso-quinine cordial, topped with highly carbonated cold soda water). We garnish the drink with fresh shiso leaves from my garden in Brooklyn. My wife and I planted this shiso plant from my grandma Minowa Obaachan’s garden three years ago, and now it’s growing tall and beautiful. I created this drink with my grandma.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “The All American at Boilermaker NYC, it’s Narragansett Lager and a shot of Henry McKenna Bourbon. Absolutely elegant.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “A samurai sword-sharp Japanese knife.”
Masahiro Urushido is the managing partner, head bartender & director of deliciousness at New York’s Katana Kitten bar.
Interview has been condensed and edited.