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Drink DuJour: Sushi Seki’s Lychee Cocktail

Everything you’d want in a lychee and sake combo (including the blueprints for making it at home)

At Sushi Seki’s New York City flagship on West 46th Street, the buzz of the pre- and post-theater crowds punctuate both ends of a steady dinner rush. The house is almost always full, as are the tabletops decorated with a constant stream of rainbows of exotic fish and raw bar delicacies floating from the open kitchen. Though heavy emphasis is placed on its culinary prowess, Sushi Seki’s bar program was never one to fall to the wayside; the cocktail offering is as rich as its accompanying sake list, and at the center of the Venn diagram of the two is a small but mighty coterie of drinks that embody this place’s harmonious ethos.

To put sake in a cocktail is a tricky thing; the rice wine is often quite delicate and fragile, presenting a challenge in accentuating its softest notes versus overpowering it completely. Shingo Gokan (a Tokyo native and previously of New York City bar icon Angel’s Share) approaches it largely as a modifier instead of a base, which works particularly well in the current menu’s “Lychee” cocktail. Lychee-cello serves as the drink’s base spirit, brightened by layers of citrus and mellowed by a minimal amount of Nigori sake (a cloudy, roughly filtered variety) and a dash of rose water. It’s not your typical lychee martini and you’ll definitely want to snag a reservation for the full dining and drinking experience, but in the meantime, here’s how to make Sushi Seki’s “Lychee” behind your own home bar.

2.5 oz. Lychee-cello*
1 oz. Grapefruit juice
.5 oz. Nigori sake
Dash of fresh lemon juice
Dash of rose water
Fresh lychee (garnish)

Preparation: Shake all ingredients and strain into chilled coupette glass. Garnish with fresh lychee on a cocktail pick and serve.

*Sushi Seki’s House Lychee-cello:
11 oz. Lychee juice
2 oz. Lillet
3 oz. St-Germain elderflower liqueur
Citrus vodka

Preparation: Add all ingredients to empty 750ml bottle; fill empty space with citrus vodka.