It was a few days before Thanksgiving, and despite it being dark, a little chilly and a bit rainy, it was surprisingly warm inside Ska Bar. The new bar/restaurant in Normal Heights has huge roll-up windows that can be closed if it’s too blustery, but on this evening, with all the windows open, it was perfect
Or, maybe it was the cocktail I was drinking. I’m forever looking for a great warm coffee cocktail, and the Boom Roasted (cacao nib-infused Irish whiskey, Dark Horse Coffee—Ska Bar’s neighbor—and demerera syrup, topped with a Becherovka cream) was perfect.
Elliott Mizuki, who honed his skills at Polite Provisions for six years before restaurateur Louie Chau tapped him to help open Ska Bar, created the Asian-inspired 13-cocktail menu to pair with the dim sum-style food offerings.
Mizuki says Chau told him to "just be creative" with the menu. That creativity shines through in cocktails like the Dark Magician, made with white rum, taro, Singani, rhubarb liqueur, Indian yogurt, vanilla, lemon, and plum bitters. If you’re a fan of taro (I am), you’ll dig this cocktail.
For something boozier, try the Professor Oak, a twist on a Manhattan made with rye whiskey that’s given a 3-minute nori infusion to add a little savoriness. Amaro Nonino—a magical cocktail ingredient—and sweet vermouth balance it out.
If you’re looking for something light, try the Kimono Summer (Yuzuri yuzu liqueur, cucumber, lemon, seltzer, and orange bitters). Chau’s favorite is the very approachable Mr. Dobalina (Mistadobalina?), made with white rum, blanco tequila, jalapeno, mango, Aperol, honey, lemon, and garnished with a Tajin rim. I quite liked the Maudlin Career, with its nuanced, layered flavors: a little smoke from mezcal; sweetness from Green Chartreuse and pineapple; and earthiness from Basil Eau de Vie and toasted jasmine rice.
All the cocktails on the menu are $10 to $11. In a city where it’s not unusual to see $15 or $16 cocktails on a menu, keeping things affordable was important, Mizuki said. He’s wrangled a talented staff, including former Kettner Exchange bar manager Paulina Konja, and plans to feature their creations on future menus.