We sat down with cocktail extraordinaire and winner of our recent Texas cocktail competition Eddie Baty from Otoko’s Watertrade bar – an intimate Japanese style cocktail bar in Austin, Texas. It features an extensive list of speciality Japanese whiskies, sake + craft cocktails curated around ingredient seasonality.
PLEASE EXPLAIN THE CONCEPT BEHIND THE BAR AT OTOKO & WATERTRADE?
We want every guest to feel included and at home with our offerings. We want to have the absolute best Japanese whisky selection, sake selection, and shochu selection around. We also want to show off what our Chef, Yoshi, is creating with our small bites menu and serve cocktails and beverages that complement that level of knowledge and execution, and of course, flavour. All of this, with the concept of mottaiani at the forefront: reducing waste, and repurposing absolutely everything that we can.
I find it very important to also include our zero proof drinkers not only with zero proof offerings, but with drinks that are as complex and well thought out as any of our other spirited cocktails. It’s important to me and the team that they also be listed alongside other featured menu items and not be relegated to their own section on a menu. They, and in turn the guests themselves, are no less part of our Japanese cocktail experience.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO FERAGAIA?
I am refreshed to see zero proof spirits that have been around awhile, or are new to the market, that aren’t trying to mimic existing spirits, therefore adding unique and new flavours to any backbar.
Feragaia is not only one of these zero proof spirits, but one of the absolute best. The moment I tried it I wanted to experiment with it and was immediately flooded with ideas for how to make killer cocktails with it. It adds to a great many ingredients, and perhaps most importantly, comes through and shines in the final cocktail.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH CREATING A NO/LO COCKTAIL THAT YOU ARE PROUD TO SERVE?
It has to satisfy just as much as any classic cocktail. The guest needs to feel like the cocktail was prepared with a lot of thought and iteration, and also with empathy for their experience being a great one. Zero proof or not, it should be treated as an equal to the other spirits on offer.
HOW DO THE FLAVOURS OF FERAGAIA WORK ALONGSIDE YOUR FAMOUS CUISINE AT OTOKO?
When I first tried Feragaia I was struck with how much it reminded me of flavors present in certain white, rose, and natural wines. This profile pairs excellently alongside fresh, bright dishes, and delicate, soft textured dishes on our omakase, but also with our bites menu at Watertrade. It really shines with sushi and nigiri. Those bright notes kick up our utilisation of yuzu kosho, citrus, ponzu, and fruits, to name a few.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN ALL YOUR DRINK PARTNERS BEHIND THE BAR? (PROVENANCE, TASTE, QUALITY, ETC)?
I look for the usage of terroir, versatility, and quality. I want to know that whatever I am using has been made well, with pride, and responsibly. And I also want to know that I can use it in many, many ways.
In regards to spirits, I want the team and myself to be able to make memorable drinks that are enhanced by the inherent flavour of the product, spirited or not.