Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This monthly series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, will explore and document the personal style of some of the best bartenders in New York City and beyond. This month, we’ve featured the brilliant Masahiro Urushido of Manhattan’s Saxon + Parole.
New York City is home to some of the most stylish people around. And, there is no shortage of creative expression, sartorially and otherwise, exhibited behind the many cocktail bars peppering this city. There are stylish bartenders aplenty…
An exhibitionist persona, a peacock quality must be assumed by the bartender before taking the stage behind the stick to perform for the evening. Presentation is key. Not only for the meticulously crafted drinks involved, but for the presenter as well.
But we all know that it’s only when style and substance converge that something sublime really happens.
As we hone in on some of the city’s standouts for this Bartender Style series, we are discovering how skill and presentation behind the bar, along with self-expression are combined to create a bartender’s personal style. Masa Urushido, Bar Manager at Saxon + Parole and the reigning Chivas Masters Global Bartending Champion, is a perfect example of this skill/style convergence.
One of the things we love about Masa’s personal style, besides his dazzling smile, incredible warmth and all around sparkly personality, is his ability to make it all seem so effortless.
From his clean and classic Americana aesthetic…
…to his swift and masterful ice carving skills.
Masa has perfected a sense of ease and confidence behind the bar
…and he looks damn sharp doing it!
Growing up in Nagano, Japan, spending his days snow boarding and delivering pizza, little did young Masa know that in just a few short years after finishing high school in Toyko, he’d be working his way up from food runner to head bartender at one of the hottest spots in town, Tableaux. It was there where his passion for cocktails took root. Over the next 6 years, Masa immersed himself in the craft, learned the art of ice carving, and gained the necessary skills to compete against some of the best bartenders in the area. In 2008 at the age of 26, Masa made the move to New York City to go to school. But before his big move, his former boss reached out to Paul Franich, brand ambassador of 42Below Vodka, who then connected him to famed mixologist, Naren Young. That relationship turned out to be a fortuitous one; Naren became Masa’s mentor and then invited him to be a part of the award-winning bar program at Saxon + Parole.
In 2013, Saxon + Parole won World’s “Best Restaurant Bar” at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. Esquire named it one of The Best Bars in America, 2014, and the beverage program continues to be recognized as one of the best in the country.
Masa is drawn to sturdy, often U.S. made pieces that last. He rarely buys clothes but when he does, he is willing to spend on quality. His wardrobe skews to the utilitarian, slightly sentimental, and well worn. The same can be said for his bar tools.
Some of Masa’s favorite tools of the trade are his Hawthorne strainer with extra tight coils, so it catches all of the little bits, a Japanese knife specific for ice carving, with his name engraved on it, given to him in London from his friend Theo Watt, and a bar spoon gifted to him from top Shanghai bartender, Cross Yu…
…and we can’t forget his Moleskine notebook that he uses to sketch out cocktail recipes. He keeps one a year and has total of 10 kept over the course of his bartending career.
The day that we came into Saxon + Parole for Masa’s photo-shoot, they were just about to roll out the gorgeous spring cocktail menu.
Of course, we needed to sample them all! The Spring Daiquiri, Agave Cooler and the Russian Spring Punch were not only stunning but crazy delicious. Our absolute favorite was the fresh and bright green Spring Daiquiri with muddled snap peas and lemon thyme syrup.
Luckily Masa was willing to share the recipe with all of us!
The Spring Daiquiri
2 oz Cana Brava Rum
3/4 oz lime juice
1/2 oz Nardini Cedro
1/2 oz lemon thyme simple syrup
3 fresh sugar snap peas
Method: muddle sugar snap peas in the lemon thyme simple syrup. Add all ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into frozen glass.
Glass: large coupe
Garnish: halved sugar snap peas and tarragon salt (half rim)