Bartender Style – Masa Urushido

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…

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

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.

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

But we all know that it’s only when style and substance converge that something sublime really happens.

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

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.

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015One 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…

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

…to his swift and masterful ice carving skills.

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

Masa has perfected a sense of ease and confidence behind the bar

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

…and he looks damn sharp doing it!

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

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.

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015In 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.

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

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

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

…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.

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

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.

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

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.

Spring Daiquiri Recipe - Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

Luckily Masa was willing to share the recipe with all of us!

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

Spring Daiquiri Recipe - Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

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
tarragon salt

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)

Bartender Style - Masa Urushido - Saxon + Parole - Rose Callahan Photography - Bit by a Fox blog - May 2015

5 Comments on Bartender Style – Masa Urushido

  1. Salty Sweet Life
    May 6, 2015 at 9:01 am (3 years ago)

    I love these Bartender Style columns so much! They are always fascinating and this one is stellar! Do you know what he was slicing in the photo? It looks like some kind of melon or vegetable? What a great line up of spring cocktails, too!

    Reply
    • Prairie Rose
      May 6, 2015 at 11:28 am (3 years ago)

      Thank you! They have been really fun to do! That’s aloe sliced very thin as a garnish for the Agave Cooler. Absolutely gorgeous!

      Reply
      • Salty Sweet Life
        May 7, 2015 at 8:56 am (3 years ago)

        I never would have guessed aloe! It’s such a huge piece of it! Thank you!

        Reply
  2. Barbara Zelano
    May 6, 2015 at 1:56 pm (3 years ago)

    Beautiful! The cocktail world is full of amazing characters with fantastic style. Rose Callahan’s photos are stunning. Great line-up of spring bevies. Love this series!

    Reply
    • Prairie Rose
      May 6, 2015 at 2:17 pm (3 years ago)

      Aren’t Rose’s pictures spectacular? And those cocktails were out of this world. Thanks!

      Reply

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