Fans of the ’90s sitcom Friends don’t have to study martial arts to get a taste of unagi. Instead, they can hit The Brixton in Babylon for its rum-based, comically inspired cocktail.
The bar’s mixologists named the creation after what David Schwimmer’s character Ross claimed to be a state of total awareness he’d developed from years of studying karate. In reality and unknown to the character, unagi is a Japanese word for freshwater eel. But for The Brixton, the word complemented the cocktail because the combination of Asian ingredients initially sparked the creativity behind the finished product.
“I was at a Japanese restaurant, drinking a beer that had yuzu in it, and I was eating miso soup — something so simple,” says veteran bartender Thomas Crawford, who created the cocktail. “I was noticing how you have that umami flavor that’s cutting through the citrus notes and vice versa. They were really playing well with each other. A style of cocktail I’m a big fan of the sour style cocktail, so I took that inspiration and put it to play in unagi.”
The drink’s ingredients include white rum, nori syrup, yuzu juice, sansho, meringue, egg white and a nori chip.
“It’s a balance between earthy, grassy and bright citrus notes,” he says. “You have the depth of those earthy, grassy notes, but then adding to the complexity, you have the bright yuzu citrus.”
It can be found on the latest themed seasonal cocktail menu at The Brixton, which opened nearly a year and a half ago. Their first menu was hip-hop inspired, including cocktails such as “Going Back to Cali” and “Ride or Rye.” The restaurant, which also puts a heavy focus on concocting craft cocktails, centered its second cocktail menu’s theme around ’ 90s sitcom Seinfeld with drink titles such as “Is that Cashmere?” “Serenity Now!” and “Del Boca Vista.” The latest version is a nod to the staff’s camaraderie.
“The reason why we actually chose Friends is because we all have a really good relationship with one another behind the bar,” Crawford says. “Ariana [the bar manager] didn’t want to take this all on by herself, so we all sat down together, as friends ourselves, and we put our heads together and composed this new cocktail program.”
The unagi was one of Crawford’s contributions to the new cocktail list.
“I’m heavily inspired by Japanese culture, in that I love their form of service,” he says. “In the kitchen, Phil has been playing with Asian ingredients himself. We have a ramen noodle night. We have a steamed pork bun night, so I just wanted to create a cocktail that I think would be able to pair with these foods.”
To make the cocktail, Crawford adds the white rum, nori syrup, yuzu juice and egg white into a cocktail shaker tin. He then vigorously shakes the tin without ice for 10 seconds. He then adds ice and goes back to shaking the shaker with the same strength as before for another 10 seconds. Afterward, he double strains the cocktail into a coupe glass. He then dusts the meringue with sansho and adds a nori chip to complete The Brixton’s Unagi.
“People have been loving it — especially industry people,” he says. “For those who want a really good cocktail to pair with some of the Asian-inspired offerings on our menu, and are adventurous and like to try new things, I think this is a great cocktail.”
The Brixton is located at 111 Deer Park Ave. in Babylon. They can be reached at 631-587-2000 or thebrixtonbabylon.com