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The translation of this bar’s moniker is “samurai sword” kitten, but let us be the first to warn you: There are no samurai, swords, kittens or (more distressingly) any cute memes of sword-wielding samurai kittens at this Japanese-American cocktail bar. Instead, you’ll step right into B-roll footage of a Master of None date scene. On a recent Friday night, the buzzy bi-level space was comfortably crowded with hip twentysomethings chattering under noirish red lights and sipping from some exceptionally purr-ty (sorry!) Japanese riffs on classic cocktails.
Try the Gatorade-blue Calpico Swizzle, which appears to be more headachy than it is: Sure, it’s served in a fat margarita glass, but the savory sake blends smoothly with the spicy sansho pepper and fizzy champagne. Conversely, the genever-spiked Meguroni comes in a simple, subdued ceramic glass, but it’s bursting with flavor thanks to its mix of earthy red bitters and whispers of buttery cinnamon notes from the aged umeshu. Of course, with most well-groomed tipples, some have more bark than bite: The red-and-white Rubyfruit looks like a slushy swirl of Christmas but tastes kinda like a bland margarita; the Hinoki Martini is presented in a large wooden box that’s garnished with hinoki tree sprigs, but wilts under the heavy $18 price tag.
The bar’s elaborate cocktails and flawless service are directly and playfully juxtaposed against its grungy dive vibes, from the vintage pop-culture posters to the checkerboard floors and rainbow string lights. At Katana Kitten, the bar’s edge cuts both ways.