Yusho's Smart Cocktails - Chicago

Smart cocktails from a new kid on the block

The kitchen flows seamlessly into the bar at Yusho.

We're not speaking metaphorically; burners and Japanese grills lie next to the drink station, a structural move that's appropriate when the cocktail list includes toasted soybeans, Szechuan peppercorns and seaweed.

A recent afternoon with the Logan Square restaurant's bartender, Alex Bachman, left us wowed by the culinary sophistication and food-friendliness of Yusho's drinks. Bachman, who spent formative years at Charlie Trotter's, makes cocktails that hold their own alongside chef Matthias Merges' creative Japanese cuisine.

Kombu (kelp) and sea salt line the rim of the In Savoy We Trust #2 ($11), a new concoction that packs an umami punch. The glass itself is filled with gentian and Alpine herbal liqueurs, Herencia blanco tequila, and lemon–a margarita on a whirlwind spin around the globe.

The Undertone ($9) is at once smoky and light, with malted rye whiskey and Italian amaro brightened by peach gomme syrup, lemon juice and Szechuan peppercorn bitters. The simplest cocktails are those on tap ($8). The current keg holds a fizzy Gin Rickey, made with fresh jackfruit and citrus. We'd happily start sipping it when the clock strikes noon during Yusho's Sunday noodle brunch.

Yusho, 2853 N. Kedzie Ave.; 773-904-8558 or yusho-chicago.com