An interview with... Sticks‘n’Sushi's assistant general manager, Girish G
What kind of whisky and whisky cocktails do you serve at Sticks‘n’Sushi?
Sticks‘n’Sushi is a Japanese and Danish fusion, which makes us quite unique and we have a great range of Japanese whiskies. The two main distilleries we stock here are Suntory and Nikka. Suntory is very famous and they have three distilleries in Japan: Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita – which is very new on the market. Hakushu is floral in nature, whereas Yamazaki is heavier as it’s situated at the bottom of the mountain, so you have a smokey peat flavour. It’s a bit like Glenfiddich. We also use Hibiki, which is a blended whisky from the same distillery – it’s buttery and nutty in flavour and light in nature. Of course, as we’re a fusion restaurant, we try to incorporate everything, so we have Scotch whisky – our two main brands being Glenlivet and Glenmorangie – and American ryes like Rittenhouse.
Most people who are into Japanese whisky tend to drink it neat, but we do a couple of cocktails like old fashioned and sours. Our signature whisky cocktail is a twist on a whisky sour using matcha powder, citrus and vanilla. The beauty of whisky is that it can be drunk in any fashion, you just need to know how to put it together.
What makes Japanese whisky special?
Japanese spirits are so unique; it’s all about the complexity. That’s the beauty of them. In 2003 the Yamazaki whisky won the World Whisky of the Year award, which upset the Irish and Scottish! They’re still relatively new in the market but they’ve created something quite sensational.
What’s your personal favourite way to drink whisky?
I prefer it neat. I’ve been a whisky drinker for almost 15 years.
Tell us about the cocktails you’ve made for World Whisky Day
I wanted to show people that you can have whisky in a long drink, so we’ve created two special cocktails for World Whisky Day. My cocktail is a twist on a Moscow mule, which I’ve called the ‘Harmonious Nature’ as it’s using Hibiki Japanese Harmony whisky. Whisky and ginger beer are like a couple, they’re married to one another. We make our own lemongrass and ginger syrup here, which I’ve mixed with the whisky and fresh lemon. That’s it – no complexity. Give it a nice shake and serve chilled. It’s nice and easy to drink and seasonal too.
The second cocktail has been created by our head bartender Ivan. Being very traditional, he went for a twist on a Manhattan using plum wine and Nikka from the barrel, which is our house whisky. A Manhattan traditionally has three serves: perfect, dry or sweet. So what he’s tried to do is marry all of them together and added kumquat liqueur. The beauty of kumquat is that it’s quite sour on the inside but sweet on the outside. This drink I would say is good for people who like neat whisky. He hasn’t changed the recipe too much – he’s kept it very simple.
Whisky over ice – acceptable or never?
For me, no. Whisky is made in such a complex manner, the flavour is developed over so many years that you don’t want to break it by adding ice. If you were to drink whisky with ice I would recommend doing so with block ice or whisky stones, which chill the whisky but don’t melt.
Finally, which celebrity would you most like to share a bottle of whisky with?
For me it has to be Robert Downey Jr. I love Marvel comics – I wouldn’t say he’s one of my favourite superheroes but he is a good guy, he’s charismatic, so to have a conversation with that kind of person over a whisky would be awesome. In the Marvel movies, after he’s had a disaster, he just goes to his bar, grabs a single malt and downs it.
The special-edition whisky cocktails will be available on World Whisky Day from £10. Sticks‘n’Sushi, Nova Food, 3 Sir Milton Square, SW1E 5EB; sticksnsushi.co.uk