If you can get past Straylight’s slightly cold entrance—a blackened corridor leading to two frosty hostesses—you’ll find a warm, glowing cocktail bar below. Like, literally glowing: from a white-walled, pink-neon–illuminated staircase that feels totally Tokyo to the lounge with a backlit ceiling covered in rainbow-colored, faux–stained-glass triangles. On a recent Saturday night, the warmth extended to the service at the bar, thanks mainly to Dorothy Elizabeth, who left Detroit’s drinks scene to set up on the edge of Chinatown. She rapidly concocts tipples from a menu designed by Jamie Jones, a cocktail consultant who used to create drinks for the menus of Jason Atherton’s global restaurants (e.g., the Clocktower). Her artfulness is on full display in drinks like the Shiso DUMBO, served in a white, elephant-shaped teapot. From the spout-trunk shoots a vibrant, millennial-pink drink laced with gin, rose water and coconut oil. The White Geisha is delicate, despite its dishwater appearance; journey through layers of gin and banana for a rich snap of sesame at the end.
All the cocktails use Asian ingredients—yuzu, daikon, cherry blossom—that pair well with robust bar bites from Juku, the Japanese restaurant above. And it’s clear that, when it comes to drinks, Elizabeth knows what makes people tick, grilling guests on their favorite flavors before offering apt recommendations. After several of her libations, I left Straylight with a warm glow all my own.