4622 Park Boulevard, University Heights
(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)
As an Asian-fusion restaurant that seeks to bring the best of Eastern and Western cuisine under one pagoda, the Lei Lounge is offering an intriguing twist to the cocktail concept. Take, for instance, one of Lei’s signature cocktails, the Tokyo Plum.
According to Lei Lounge bartender Natilee Riordan, the Tokyo Plum features a blend of traditional cocktail ingredients with a slightly mysterious twist.
“The plum and the lime dance very well together, and the sake gives it a little bit of fizz, a bit of effervescence,” she says. “It settles very well on the palate.
Riordan says the Tokyo Plum is as versatile as it is delicious.
“When isn’t a good time to have it?” she asks. “You can honestly have it before dinner, with dinner, after dinner — whenever.”
This flexibility fits in fine with her first rule of bartending — that not only is the customer always right, but the customer is almost always thirsty.
“One of my philosophies behind the bar is you should drink what you like and like what you drink,” she says, adding that people suffer a mild form of culture shock when they discover the plum flavor in the cocktail. “I recommend people order what they want when they want it, and the Tokyo Plum definitely doesn’t discriminate between whether it’s better before or after dinner.”
Kitchen Proof: Subtle as a haiku, the Tokyo Plum blossoms into an intriguing interplay between the sake fizz, the plum sweet, and the lime tart, combining into a beautifully balanced conclusion.
How to Make It
• 1¼ oz. Pearl Plum vodka
• ¾ oz. triple sec
• ½ oz. simple syrup
• ¼ oz. lime juice
• 1 dash sparkling sake
Pour the first four ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake, pour into a martini glass, top with a float of sparkling sake, take a sip, and feel the pluck of zither strings run down your spine.