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Drink DuJour: ETARU’s Umi Old Fashioned

The mother of all classics takes on a nutty Asian-inspired twist

From the team behind Zuma comes ETARU Las Olas in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, and with it a bevy of Robatayaki specialties, an extensive selection of Japanese whiskies, and of course, its own collection of approachable classic cocktails with an inventive twist (a hallmark of the restaurant group’s global outposts). Located inside the Icon building, ETARU is a haven of deep wood accents and artisan earthenware offset by a bright patio and beachfront vibe, combining the best of both worlds, much like its cocktail program. Global Bar Manager Simon Freeth is responsible for this new establishment’s enigmatic drinks, ranging from a traditional spritz updated with yuzu and hibiscus to a complex mule combining whisky, house-made shiso furikake syrup, blood orange, lemon, orange bitters, and ginger beer.

Of the more spirit-forward opening bar menu, the Umi Old Fashioned is perhaps among the most reliable choices, especially as a gateway to Japanese whiskies for those interested in the category. “It’s a twist on the classic old fashioned, but without any bitters, using the roasted slightly salty nori leaf to bring a bit of umami taste to balance the overall flavor,” shares Freeth. As for the base spirit, “The cocktail uses Suntory Toki instead of a bourbon as the whisky’s light peaty notes work well against the rich kokuto sugar.” With its own nori-infused sugar syrup and a simple build, the Umi Old Fashioned is a perfect option for the at-home bartender. Read on for the full recipe.

.5 oz. Kokuto and roasted nori syrup*
2.25 oz. Suntory Toki whisky
Brandied or Maraschino cherry (garnish)

Preparation: Stir all ingredients together in a mixing glass for 30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over a hand-carved ice block and garnish with a Maraschino or brandied cherry.

*Kokuto and nori syrup:
500g Okinawa brown kokuto sugar
500g brown sugar
500ml water

Preparation: Bring to boil until the sugar has all dissolved. Add 2 sheets of roasted nori leaves. Let it cool and then strain.