Bar Moga Is a New Cocktail Bar Inspired by 1920s Japan

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The Moga: Japanese whiskey, rhum, plum liqueur. Photo: ©2017 Liz Clayman

When cocktail nerds talk about Japanese bars, they tend to think of quiet temples to precisely made mixed drinks. Places like Angel’s Share and Bar Goto here in New York, or Bar Mimitsuka in Tokyo. But the owners of the newly minted Bar Moga in the West Village are going for something a little different. Named for Japan’s equivalent of the flapper, called “moga” or “modern girls,” the bar takes the idea of yōshoku, Japanized versions of food popular in the West, and runs with it for the whole concept. Decorated with vintage lighting and advertisements, and set to a soundtrack of Japanese surf rock and American R&B, the bar soft-opens tonight with a limited menu.

The woman behind the bar is beverage director Becky McFalls-Schwartz, who worked for one of modern bartending’s most prominent figures, the late Sasha Petraske. Putting the idea of Japanese-Western fusion into practice, her cocktails (check out the menu here) are based on American classics, but made with Japanese ingredients like infused barley shochu (in the Espresso Martini–esque Woman in the Dunes), plum liqueur (the Moga), and Yuzu Omoi (Sleepwalk).

The food menu from SakaMai chef Takanori Akiyama also goes heavy on yōshoku. He’ll draw on the genre’s classics, like omurice, an omelette with chicken rice; hamburger steak with glazed carrot and demi-glace sauce; and curry doria, a gratin made with béchamel rice. The spirits-and-wine list will emphasize female producers, and to kick things off, McFalls-Schwartz will serve a special wine otherwise not available here: Suo Red Collection No. 2 is a collaboration between Napa’s Helen Keplinger and Ntsiki Biyela, South Africa’s first black, female winemaker.

Woman in the Dunes: barley shochu, coffee liqueur, iron amaro, toasted almond, heavy cream Photo: ©2017 Liz Clayman
Sleepwalk: lemongrass shochu, Yuzu Omoi, coconut, ginger, lime, and rosé. Photo: ©2017 Liz Clayman
Arcade Smash: Poire Williams, cane-sugar shochu, lavender honey, orange, and lemon. Photo: ©2017 Liz Clayman
Kani cream croquettes with snow crab and tartar sauce. Photo: ©2017 Liz Clayman
The bifuteki skirt steak comes with fried fingerling potatoes and sweet-onion sauce. Photo: ©2017 Liz Clayman
There’s béchamel rice and four cheeses in the curry gratin. Photo: ©2017 Liz Clayman
The bar. Photo: ©2017 Liz Clayman

Bar Moga, 128 W. Houston, nr. Sullivan St.; 929-399-5853

Bar Moga Is a New Cocktail Bar Inspired by 1920s Japan