- Griffin Swartzell
Visitors to the recently opened Rooster's House of Ramen (323 N. Tejon St., facebook.com/roostershouseoframen) may have noticed a door at the back of the north-side dining area, blocked off, emitting sounds of construction and renovation. Chef Mark Henry must have something else up his sleeve, huh? Well, yes, but not exactly.
Enter Sean and Inez Fitzgerald, co-owners of The Wobbly Olive and The Collective, who've long been seeking a space downtown, and bartender Dylan Currier, formerly of Cowboy Star and Brooklyn's on Boulder.
Turns out the mystery door, as of later this month, will host Sakura ("cherry blossom" in Japanese), a tiny secret bar serving Japanese-inflected craft cocktails. In addition to the Japanese Cocktail from Jerry Thomas' 1862 book How to Mix Drinks, the team's menu will feature a rainbow of Japanese flavors — especially yuzu — and spirits. Beyond sake and sake drinks, expect multiple cocktails that use Japanese whisky, and at least one that features shochu, a Japanese liquor usually made from a mix of rice, barley and Japanese sweet potato (not to be confused with Korean soju).
For food, patrons will be able to order from the Rooster's appetizer menu, and Fitzgerald has also discussed offering sesame sticks as table snacks. However, Sakura drinks cannot be carried out into the Rooster's dining room.
And, seeing as it's a small, almost speakeasy-style bar, getting in will be a little more complicated. Sakura hosts will be seated throughout Rooster's, equipped with laptops so they know the bar's occupancy at all times; the maximum capacity will most likely be 20 or fewer. Fitzgerald plans to identify them with fabric cherry blossoms pinned to their shirts. See the outfit's Facebook page for further details.