531 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
If the frontline of service is a smile, Katana Kitten’s Masahiro Urushido is a grand master of the hospitality business. He has good reason to beam of late – just over a year after opening, his peers put his Japanese-inspired American dive bar among the best in the world. Urushido’s bartending prowess is no new thing, of course – his New York spurs were earned at Saxon & Parole; his skills, long before in his homeland, Japan, where cocktail-making technique is an art form. Katana Kitten has some heavyweight cocktail minds in the flanks too – James Tune (Boilermaker and Pegu Club) and Greg Boehm (Cocktail Kingdom and Existing Conditions) – and it is this collective expertise that brings the confidence to name a bar after a Samurai sword and a baby cat. The message here is sharp-edged craftsmanship juxtaposed against playfulness, which is carried through in the relaxed, everyone-welcome vibe and cocktail menu, which is split into simple but perfected drinks in the form of highballs, cocktails and boilermakers. Katana Kitten is the winner of the Best New Opening Award, sponsored by Thomas Henry.