Story in a Glass: Severed Anchor

by Laren Spirer

When Aaron Polsky worked at Neta, a high-end sushi restaurant in New York, he unsurprisingly had umami on his mind. The trick, however, was getting it into a cocktail glass. With this mission, Polsky began to experiment. An alcoholic dashi entered the mix, but was ultimately scrapped. Through further trial and error, he narrowed his sights to bonito.

Polsky set out to create a bonito Manhattan -- a nod to one of the first drinks that used a strong food element and has become an instant classic: Don Lee’s Benton’s Bacon Old Fashioned at PDT. This was not a simple process -- it took about three or four months of extensive tinkering and experimentation to come up with a drink that would highlight the bonito and still be balanced.

Eventually, Polsky used sake as a modifier in his cocktail -- the traditional style Tenryo Hidahomare, packed with umami, that he described as “very meaty,” yet carrying the dryness and acidity that a balanced drink needs. The bonito was infused in Suntory Hakushu 12 year, a whisky he calls “smoky, yet light and almost green.“ He claims that the bonito and whisky “almost beg for each other.” To stretch this infusion, he added a dose of Bushmills Irish Whiskey.

The end result was dubbed the Severed Anchor -- a moniker that invokes a ghost pirate ship. To complete the image, Polsky always selected the most jagged, rough-hewn chunk of ice he could find, like an iceberg coming out of water, and he garnished it with a bonito flake on a skewer, like a sail torn after a bout with stormy seas.

Severed Anchor

  • 1 oz Tenryo Hidahomare sake

  • 1 ¼ ounce Bushmills White Label

  • ¾ ounce of bonito/Suntory Hakushu 12 year infusion

Build in a rocks glass with a  large chunk of ice and garnish with a skewered bonito flake.



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