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Summer in a Martini Glass
After SushiSamba revamped its cocktail menu this summer, Joonbug got to try some of the restaurant's newest drinks

 The last days of summer are upon us. This is not such a tragedy considering the heat wave, sudden rainstorms, and general moody teenage behavior that the weather has pulled over the past few months.

The fresh, bright flavors of summer are a different story; SushiSamba makes sure that no thirsty New Yorker has to say goodbye to those, with its recently made-over cocktail menu. The restaurant's head of cocktail and spirit development, Richard Woods, was kind enough to invite us for some samples. Here are our recommendations.

If you're keeping it clean, strong, and simple:

Yuzu Gimlet

A potent drink made with Bombay Dry Gin and served straight-up with a twist of lime. The gimlet gets its citrusy flavor from yuzu, a Japanese fruit used in a house-made cordial. One of SushiSamba's biggest transitions with their cocktail overhaul was the decision to make their syrups and cordials in-house. “It’s a new kind of control," explains Richard, "Like a chef controls every ingredient that goes into his food.” The flavors of their new homemade syrups include pineapple, elderflower, anise, and tarragon.

Nashi

Grey Goose La Poire and St. Germain with a splash of lychee water, yuzu juice, and passionfruit syrup. Less flashy and more elegant than most of the other cocktails on the new menu, with a strong (but not overly sweet) taste of lychee.

If you want to branch out:

Wasabi Collins

That's right, wasabi. It started as a "happy accident," says Richard, created on a whim after a lighthearted suggestion from a journalist. He starts with a sorbet made with celery, apple, and wasabi (which, unfortunately, is not served separately). Hendrick's Gin, lemon juice, sugar, elderflower, and a good strong shake transform the sorbet into an opaque, pale green drink. Surprisingly, it isn't really spicy. Upon tasting it, Richard remarks, some drinkers have admitted to him that they didn't realize wasabi even had a flavor besides spice. If only to make that crucial realization, the Wasabi Collins is worth an order.

Shishito Pepper Caipirinha

Like the wasabi in the previous drink, the shisito peppers don't add much heat to this cocktail. In fact, only about one shisito pepper in seven is spicy, says Richard; the rest are relatively mild. He shakes the roasted green peppers with Leblon cachaça, lime juice, and sugar syrup before pouring it over ice. The method infuses the drink with an unmistakeable, slightly bitter roasted pepper flavor.