Brighton Drink Reviewer, Xavi, May 2016
Oki-Bar is bound to become a hotspot for those who like to venture into new flavours in their drinks. Located in central Brighton on top of Oki-Nami they describe the bar as:
our little intimate drinking den above the main restaurant.
Under the stewardship of manager Sean DeRosa and his team of top mixologists, Oki-Bar is stocked with a vast selection of speciality spirits, home-made bitters, infusions & fantastic cocktails, with service open 7 days a week from 5pm and Happy-Hour 5-8pm on weekdays.
A menu that tells a tale
The menu, as Sean explains, will tell the story of a girl called Kyoto and her path to enlightenment. Sean wrote the story inspired by the already existing list and it’s being designed at the moment as it will turn into a manga (Japanese comic book).
The first one he prepared was called Blood Diamond. Mixed with Whitley Neill gin, Worcester shrub, and tomato consommé it’s an elegant and refined version of a Bloody Mary. It’s full of earthy and botanical aromas from the gin but once you taste it you’ll see what I mean. The gentle dryness makes it a perfect aperitif.
Take me to paradise
Next one was Birds of Paradise. A long drink inspired on a Paloma (Tequila and grapefruit soda) This one is with Qui Qui Ri Qui Mezcal infused with Grains of paradise for 24 hours which give a really nice kick to the drink, passion fruit, pink grapefruit and soda. This is a refreshing and reinvigorating drink as the smoke, spice and exotic fruit mix will awake your palate.
Playing it fast and loose
Fast Breaker is one of the most exciting drinks I’ve tried, as a note I have to say that Sean is a beverage technologist, he designs, brews and infuses all the ingredients necessary for the bar and he is currently writing a book on sensory and flavour science.
This cocktail is the best way to describe (and understand) what he does. He simply describes this drink as the feeling of having “toast and marmalade”…
Mixed and infused with Vodka, Laphroaig, Caraway, Bergamot, Maple and Marmalade this drink is a sense teaser. Indeed it tastes like toast and marmalade at first but after a while you start picking other flavours and then very gently on the background are the spirits. This drink is fantastic on it’s own or as a digestif.
Drink from the fountain of youth
The Fountain of Youth followed the tasting. Another long drink which again fiddles with your mind and your senses. It’s made with two different kinds of Sipsmith gin, Dolyn dry vermouth, Cedar-wood, Fennel, Coriander seed, Celery, Bitters and Soda. It is a fresh and herbal drink. The flavours are rich and intense and as you drink it evolves into a smooth beverage reminiscent of sake. Might as well be a good alternative to wine or beer while you have a meal. My favourite so far as I’m very keen in all things Japanese and all things wine and spirit related.
If Ninja were to have a drink, this is what they would surely go for!
Time to escape
Escape was next and no, it wasn’t me running away from all this booze. It’s the final episode on the story and the grand finale on their cocktail list. Sean’s idea for this cocktail came as he wanted to have a drink made with vermouth as the main ingredient but with vermouth not being too common on bars nowadays, he thought of a way to offer it to customers by mixing it with other equally exciting, yet different spirits such as Absinthe, Amaro and Cacao Blanc. This cocktail is a clever mix of flavours and even though it’s mostly made with aperitifs, It makes a fantastic digestif as it is warm, oily and smooth in flavour and texture.
If you prefer something more simple and with lots of fruit, go for the Fight Club which among other things has Rum, Guava, Apricot and Lemon with a touch of Grenadine or Kyoto’s Dream which is Gin, Matcha, and Lime based and it’s so refreshing!
Prefer to go classic?
Oki-Bar also offers a selection of classic cocktails like Margarita or Old Fashioned and they are always happy to make your favourite even if it’s not on the list. As a personal interest and out of curiosity, I can’t wait to try their Dry Martini which I’m sure is going to be impeccable as all the cocktails we tried are perfectly mixed.
Soak up the alcohol with the bar menu
Don’t forget to ask for the food menu as well and you can have some of their Japanese dishes served at the bar.
Arigatou gozaimasu Oki Nami!