beverage director Ryan Yamada when he was behind the stick at Embers. At the time he was a new arrival to Nashville from New Orleans, but it hasn't taken long for him to make an impact on his new town. I dropped by Sinema to sample through a few of his new cocktails on the summer menu, and I'm thinking you might want to do the same thing soon.
"I'm all about fun and accessible cocktails," Yamada said when I asked him about his philosophy. "I'm not into high-brow techniques. I want these drinks to be super refreshing." The first cocktail I sampled was a great representation of this ideal, a shandy made from Chattanooga 1816 Reserve Whiskey and Tennessee Brew Works
' Southern Wit beer. The Belgian white beer plays nicely with a housemade lavender syrup, strawberry syrup and lemon juice to create a balanced cocktail that tastes like summer in a glass. He calls this one the Chattanooga Brew Choo.
Yamada also likes experiential cocktails, and his new Those Summer Nights is intended to take you someplace in your mind as you sip on the elegant drink served in a coupe glass. Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka and a splash of jasmine extract added to the surface of the drink, providng
the floral characteristics that are evocative of a field of flowers, and jasmine leaves sprinkled on top of the egg white foam contributes a visual representation as well. I'm not always a fan of egg-white drinks, but Yamada dry-shakes this particular cocktail to foam up the egg for a lovely mouthfeel, and the floral elements mask any slight rotten egg aroma that can sometimes be the bane of an egg drink.
My favorite drink of all that I tried was the clever Mango Unchained, and not just because movie puns are always appreciated in a restaurant called Sinema. This particular cocktail is based on Jameson Irish Whiskey, an often overlooked spirit when it comes to cocktails. Mixed with mango puree, Hellfire bitters and a jalapeño simple syrup, this drink is full of delicious contradictions. It was hot and cold at the same time, sweet from mango and tart from lemon juice, and ultimately refreshing, and I enjoyed the ride immensely as the heat built up over time.