SushiSamba, which operates in New York City, Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Las Vegas and London, is known for its blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cultures and cuisines. Recently, a serious overhaul of the cocktail program went down at the New York City location with the launch of a lineup of culinary cocktails and new “Signature Serves.” Head of spirit and cocktail development Richard Woods worked with the operation’s culinary team to develop the drinks, align them with the culinary concept, and give all of the drinks a decidedly tropical tweak.
The new culinary drinks include the Tom Yam, a combination of coriander, ginger, lime leaf and chili spiked with vodka and served with an accompanying nigiri sake, and the Avocado Batida, a twist on a classic Brazilian favorite with fresh avocado purée swizzled through crushed ice with cachaça, almond syrup and cacao served long with an accompanying cone of maize cancha.
“The new list of libations showcases the brand’s creativity and pioneering methodologies. Collaborating with the culinary team has added an entirely new and exciting layer to the cocktailing experience,” says Woods, who in 2014 earned first place in the UK and Ireland Bombay Sapphire’s “World’s Most Imaginative Bartender Competition,” followed by second place in the world finals.
In addition to the culinary-inspired cocktails, Woods refreshed the signature drink list. Among the new offerings are the Smoked Plum Negroni, a classic Negroni reinvented with Hibiki Japanese whisky, Aperol, sweet vermouth and rich plum wine; the Lychee Cooler, an adaptation of the Piña Colada that combines lychee juice, coconut milk, vanilla syrup and elderflower with vodka and citrus; and the Café Millionario, coffee-washed Bacardi Black rum shaken with spiced maple syrup, dark chocolate and an espresso shot.
Other culinary cocktails include Shishito Pepper Caipirinha, Seviche Cocktail made with gin, yuzu, passion fruit and a dark chocolate liqueur (served long with an accompanying ‘shot’ of seviche with a tamarind ponzu), and the Wagyu Cocktail (Japanese Whisky treated to a wash of the highest grade wagyu beef before being stirred with maple and salted caramel, served over ice).
Current cocktail culture often hews closely to classics, although customers are increasingly looking for fun as well as correct drinks made the right way. At SushiSamba, there’s a little bit of both, as this new menu makes clear.