Sometimes, come the weekend, there's nothing you need more than a stiff drink. Be it to unwind and de-stress, mark a milestone or simply to socialise, Friday night drinks are a tradition that our culture has long held a love affair with, and for good reason.
But as the old adage goes, if you're going to do it, you might as well do it right. Which is exactly the intention behind this weekend's venue of choice. Forget the stresses and strains your day may have brought and let yourself be transported away to the zen-like space of Simon Denton’s (Izakaya Den and Nama Nama) latest venture, Hihou.
With Japanese waiters in crisp white shirts, a hidden entrance and sleek slabs of black marble, Hihou offers the perfect mix of sophistication and mystery. Take a seat at the low stone tables, de shoe, forget about your worries at this anything but average city bar.
"The secret entrance and dark corridor are part of the 'time machine' so to speak,” says Denton. “When you arrive upstairs we want you to feel like you've found something very special.
“In a time when eating out is becoming more and more casual, we want to offer something sophisticated – with some formality – but still fun and adventurous.” And it's not just what they have on offer – shochu, umeshu, sake and imported Japanese whiskey – that makes this place what it is. It's what they do with it. Simple, complex, sophisticated, strong, light – whatever your poison of choice, they’ll match it. Denton praises his staff as being the point of difference between Hihou and other city haunts. It's their knowledge, confidence and professionalism, paired with the cinematic surrounds, that makes this a truly unique drinking experience.
"The place represents the type of place we (Denton and business partners Takashi Omi and Miyuki Nakahara) would like to go and that personal involvement is essential to the experience," says Denton. "The thing about Japan that always grabs people is the service, so we want to be able to provide that."
If you, like a lot of others, are unsure of where to begin, there's an extensive wine and sake list available for tastings and by the glass. But don't be fooled; the real magic lies in the bartenders’ more-than-capable hands. If you don't believe us, simply read the recipe below.
Bartenders’ Kiwi Fruit Choice Cocktail
Coupe cocktail glass
Patron Silver 30ml
Lillet Blanc 10ml
1 kiwi fruit, peeled
10ml lemon juice
Dash sugar syrup
Chopped fresh ginger
10ml yuzu juice
Blend kiwi, Patron, Lillet, lemon juice, syrup, fresh ginger and a pinch of salt in ‘Tiger’ fruit blender.
Remove blender glass and shake with metal Boston shaker. Strain into cocktail glass.
Froth pineapple juice and yuzu with ‘Hario’ mini frother and scoop on top of cocktail glass.
Garnish with mini mint.