Within the current transformative era of craft cocktails, we’re thriving in an age where creativity should be boundless, still, originality often wavers. Especially within the bustling New York cocktail scene, there isn’t much that hasn’t already been executed and perfected through and through. This is not the case however, for beloved Bar Goto on the Lower East Side. Although you may feel as though you’ve stepped into some sort of futuristic transportation portal and ended up in Tokyo in the blink of an eye, you are mistaken. Although, it is easy to keep the illusion going once you begin to indulge.
Bar Goto switches up the game with a masterful take on several classic cocktails blended with a mix of their own enticing concoctions.
Owner Kenta Goto, the humble master who formerly rocked the bartop at famed Pegu Club in SoHo, shines a bright and alluring light on Japanese Culture with colorful expression and emphasis on specific flavor profiles and presentation. Where so many American bartenders focus on the style of their craft, Japanese bartenders are focused on the “why” of their techniques. You won’t be witnessing any flair bartending or knocking back twelve-ingredient cocktails, but rather, enjoying something more level-headed with simplistic garnishes and choice ingredients.
Where traditional meets contemporary, when it comes to their cocktail menu, Bar Goto switches up the game with a masterful take on several classic cocktails blended with a mix of their own enticing concoctions. For instance, their Kyoto Old-Fashioned featuring rice vodka and gin matcha is a rich and ageless revamp, where the original Far East Side, made with sake and tequila boasts bright flavors of yuzu and elderflower. Or, for you Bloody Mary fans out there, the Umami Mary is exactly what you’ve been dreaming of, made with vodka, shiitake, dashi, miso lemon, tomato, and Clamato.
In addition, Bar Goto focuses on well-balanced simplicity in the glorious tradition of Japanese highballs, such as the Ume Fizz with Japanese Plum Brandy, mirabelle, and soda. A concise selection of sake, shochu, wine, champagne, and beer is also available if you’re not in a cocktail mood, so don’t worry if you’re not feeling too adventurous. Now, say it with us, “Kanpai!” A modern Japanese boilermaker, a beer and a shot is offered for only $11, which consists of a Sapporo and your choice of house tequila, bourbon or scotch.
To quell the eager, growling belly after sucking down a few drinks, a menu of small plates boasts no-frills for fresh dishes. Can you say Miso Wings?! Plum vinegared octopus to go with your Toki Ball anyone?! One of the most delectable and instagram-worthy specialities at Bar Goto is their variety of Okonami-Yaki, savory cabbage pancakes served with Okonomi sauce, kewpie mayo dried bonito flakes and pickled Red Ginger. Ranging from “The Classic” with pork belly, rock shrimp, squid, cheddar cheese, and yakisoba, to a meat-heavy “Carnivore” option, a lighter “Herbivore” option, and of course, a “Fisherman’s” option with squid, sakura shrimp, rock shrimp, kombu, and nori.
If you’re looking for a new after-work or weekend hangout, bring your friends to Bar Goto, open Tuesday through Sunday, 5pm to 12am, and 5pm to 2am on Friday and Saturday. Head on in and say kon’nichiwa to Kenta Goto and the rest of his talented and friendly staff. Your belly will thank you.