THE GOCHISO GOURMET: It’s 5 p.m. somewhere!

The Gochiso’s Oshare. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

That means it’s always cocktail time! Since I retired, tracking the day of the week has become somewhat of a challenge mainly because Ms. S is still part of the workforce (though as you read this, she’ll just have 11 more days until she joins me in retirement), and because she works every fifth weekend, she has the Thursday before and the Wednesday after that weekend off. So naturally, I always think the day after her scheduled weekdays off are Saturday. If the Cooking Channel didn’t broadcast reruns of “No Reservations” every Tuesday afternoon, I’d be perpetually lost. But I know when Tuesday rolls around because it’s time for wine and pupus while watching Anthony Bourdain at 4 p.m. But technically, once you retire, it’s always cocktail time, as you aren’t at work, nor do you have to work the next day!

But I’ll admit that I exhibit more alcohol restraint than it might seem, especially with those Gochiso Gourmet cocktails videos on YouTube. And though I have a penchant for wine, I won’t turn down a properly shaken or stirred cocktail in the evening or midday meal. And likewise for Ms. S…

The Habitant Habit
When Nordstrom first started operations at Ala Moana Center in 2008, the store design was pure genius. Well, at least their Habitant bar was a stroke of genius. Located centrally on the second floor, as you rode the escalator, you immediately saw the glass wall behind the Habitant bar displaying the multitude of liquor served at the bar. If bar placement were simply happenstance, the liquor bottle labels would face the bartenders, but no, they faced the shoppers on the escalators. And although they had a limited food menu, they actually served every item from Ruscello, their sit-down restaurant located on the third floor, except soup, as the bar employees literally went up and down the escalator to retrieve the food from Ruscello. And because of the service Nordstrom prides itself on, by our third visit, the regular Habitant employees (Nordstrom seems to have an extremely low employee turnover) recognized us as repeat patrons. One of the cocktails that I usually order is their High Fashion with Woodford bourbon, 12-year-old Macallan scotch, mission fig and aromatic bitters. Yes, it seems like sacrilege using $60-plus Macallan scotch in a cocktail, but there’s something about the maltiness of a good scotch with the honey and vanilla flavors of the bourbon. I knew that I had to recreate it in my own home bar (ask your local barkeep if they’re willing to share the recipe with you) but since figs aren’t a usual staple in the 50th, I used a date syrup in place. And because of this change, I call my libation the Oshare instead of the High Fashion. While oshare translates to “fashionable,” I grew up with the notion that it simply meant you were a vain, shallow person who only cared about your appearance. But my Oshare is tasty nonetheless.…

The Gochiso’s Oshare. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

1 oz bourbon of your choice
0.5 oz 12 years old Macallan
0.25 oz date syrup
2 dashes Xocolatl bitters
2 dashes vanilla cherry bark bitters
(if you can’t find these bitters, 4 dashes of Angostura is fine)

Shake in a cocktail shaker for 15 to 20 seconds then strain into an Old-Fashioned glass with a single large cube of ice. Garnish with two to three maraschino cherries.

Bouchon Bistro
On our last visit to wine country last November, we made a requisite stop at Bouchon Bistro. We always try to have lunch at either Bouchon Bistro or Bistro Jeanty (or both), and before I sampled my exquisite Boudin Noir followed by the Orange Meringue, I sampled the Negroni Vert. If you follow this column, you’ll know that my favorite libation is the Negroni — equal parts gin, Campari and vermouth. But there are many variations and this green version had me wanting more. While most restaurants may list the ingredients, they don’t give you the proportions. So I produced my own reasonable facsimile. You may have some difficulty procuring Green Chartreuse, as the Carthusian monks who create it state that to focus primarily on religious studies, they cut back on production of their Chartreuse products. This cocktail also requires the blue Magellan gin, as Empress 1908 gin doesn’t produce the same flavor or color.

2 oz Magellan gin
0.5 oz Suze
0.5 oz Green Chartreuse

Stir on ice for about 20 seconds then strain into a glass and serve on large ice rocks with a wide orange peel as a garnish.

Located right in the heart of Downtown Napa, this extension of the Napa Distillery is a great place for a libation or two. We visited the Napa Distillery at the Oxbow Public Market on previous trips, but ArBaretum opened just a couple of months prior to our recent trip. Using several liquors distilled from their sister establishment, as well as barrel aged libations, ArBaretum serves a unique menu of cocktails with a limited food menu. Because we arrived just after having a late lunch at the Hog Island Oyster Co., we primarily indulged in cocktails and probably the prettiest of the bunch was the San Remo with gin, Cointreau, blueberry, lime, demerara and sparkling elderflower… I didn’t even attempt to recreate this libation at home.

My Own Creations
When I retired, one of my co-workers gave me a bottle of Choya Sparkling Plum Wine. After unwrapping the bottle, my first thought was “OK….” Will this be a funky, salty, ume flavored wine? Then I uncorked it and no, it basically tasted like a sparkling sake with a touch of sweetness from the plum. So I created a cocktail in his honor and even named it after him, though Ms. S later informed me that Grant didn’t imbibe at all. Oh well, it’s still a tasty cocktail.

Taken for Granted
1/4 oz yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz orange liqueur
1/2 oz Kura whisky
2 oz Choya plum sparkling wine

Stir over ice for 20 seconds, then pour into an old-fashioned glass and garnish with a slice of plum. Alternatively, dry shake one egg white for 15 seconds, then add ice and the liquids to the shaker and gently shake for 15 seconds. Add three drops of Bittermans Burlesque bitters, then drag a toothpick through the drops to form hearts.

Finally, a previous co-worker from my days at Kaiser Permanente gifted me Hawai‘i-produced shochu upon retirement. Yes, the 50th has a distillery on the North Shore in Hale‘iwa produced by a couple from Japan using locally grown purple sweet potatoes to create their Namihana shochu. Because it’s only a two-person operation, they only make two batches of shochu every year, though they also make special versions like shochu-based gin or chestnut wood aged shochu. However, the shochu is only available at select Japanese restaurants or directly from the distillery in Hale‘iwa. So I created a cocktail in Ola’s honor — since Ola has both Hawaiian and Chinese lineage, it was named after the translation of her Chinese name. The mango and pineapple syrups are from Real which can be found at specialty liquor stores or on Amazon. Since you likely can’t get shochu from the Hawaiian Shochu Company, 1/2 oz of sweet potato shochu is a good substitute for the pineapple shochu and regular gin for the shochu gin.

Golden Moon
1/4 ounce mango syrup
1/4 ounce pineapple syrup
1/4 ounce ginger liqueur
1/2 ounce shochu gin
1/2 ounce pineapple shochu
1 ounce pineapple/mango
vodka (Svedka)
11/2 ounce Maui Blanc
pineapple wine

Mix all seven ingredients with ice for about 15 seconds then strain into an Old-Fashioned glass with a single large cube of ice. Garnish with a pineapple slice or skewered pineapple chunks.

The Gochiso Gourmet is a column on food, wine and healthy eating. Ryan Tatsumoto is a graduate of both the University of Hawai‘i and UC San Francisco. He is a recently retired clinical pharmacist and a budding chef/recipe developer/wine taster. He writes from Kane’ohe, HI and can be reached at The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei News.

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