Advertisement
  1. Bars & Breweries

Bar review: Ichicoro Ane crafts fusion cocktails

Photos courtesy of Geneva Johnson The Genji Glove.
Published Dec. 22, 2018

One of the best things about Japan is the ubiquity of the izakaya: small and simple taverns where you can get a convenient cocktail and bite to eat, often into the wee hours. Last year, during a layover in Japan, I decided to find a suitable izakaya to have a drink and practice my laughably poor Japanese.

I found a lonely spot and sat at the bar, fudging my way through ordering. I ended up with a glass of scotch and some slices of cucumber topped with savory-tart umeboshi paste. The experience was memorable and increasingly fun with each drink. It was the quintessential izakaya: casual, relaxed and unique.

Ichicoro Ane ("ane" meaning "little sister") opened last December in the Station House building's basement, known best for its long run as Cafe Alma. Ane's big sister has been a Seminole Heights staple for some time, so when a St. Pete branch opened, it was welcomed.

For good reason, too. It's mix of traditional and Japanese fusion cuisine was a perfect accompaniment for an adventurous cocktail list and comprehensive sake and whisky selection. It's more varied and certainly more spacious than a typical izakaya, but the vibe is absolutely right. It's a modern, hip take on Japan's answer to the Irish pub — a one-stop-shop for food, drink, company and often music, too.

There's a smart balance of hip and authentic at work, with hip-hop and electronic dance tunes playing in the background as customers sip steaming bowls of ramen with large wooden spoons.

The drink program, which ranges from sake to tequila to high-end Japanese and Scotch whiskeys, is among the area's finest. Plus, the wine and beer options are plentiful. And the cocktails? Wow. Most of the house cocktails expand on the restaurant's Japanese influence.

Take the Golden Saucer. It's a unique twist on the classic gin fizz, utilizing bean-based aquafaba for foam in place of egg whites, and a combination of miso syrup, rosewater, lemon juice and Velvet Falernum — a spicy-sweet syrup used in several tiki-style drinks — in place of citrus and soda water, all dressed up in a coupe glass with a flower bud floating on top.

Or the Black Mage, which uses activated charcoal amaro (you tell me) to add color and an herbal earthiness to draft IPA, pineapple turbinado sugar and lime juice. Or the Genji Glove, which combines white rum and draft matcha with orgeat syrup, orange cordial, lime and Angostura bitters in an oxidized copper mug with a dense mint sprig arising from the center like a fragrant bonsai tree.

With the name and reputation, it's easy to see Ichicoro Ane as anything but a down-to-earth Japanese-style pub, but that's what it is. See it through that lens and you'll understand why the format of Japanese bars works so well here.

— Contact Justin Grant at jg@saintbeat.com.

Ichicoro Ane

260 1st Avenue S., St. Petersburg. (727) 300-0281. ichicoroane.com

The vibe: A Japanese-style basement bar with remarkably creative cocktails.

Food: Sides and small plates, $3-$8; entrées, $12-$18.

Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $5-$9; wine and sake, $8-$13 by the glass and $30-$175 by the bottle; liquor, $7-$15 and up for ultra-premium spirits. Happy hour is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday and all day Sunday, featuring $3 Kirin Ichiban draft, $3-$8 house wine and sake and $5-$7 cocktails.

Specialty: Sake and whisky (from Japan and Scotland are prominent), but don't ignore the house cocktails. For example, the Golden Saucer mixes gin with miso syrup, Velvet Falernum, rosewater and lemon juice, turned creamy with the addition of aquafaba, whipped liquid from a can of chickpeas.

Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday; closed Monday.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. At The Tiki Cove, you don’t need too much imagination to place your mind and mood at an actual beach. JUSTIN GRANT  |  Justin Grant
    The Tiki Cove is a Florida-only novelty that anyone passing through will be sure to enjoy. | Bar review
  2. Try I Am The Walrus Berliner Weisse ib draft at Hidden Springs Ale Works, or look for it in cans at your local quality beer shop. JUSTIN GRANT  |  Justin Grant
    This is Florida, so some of our autumn brews fall outside the paradigm. | Local beer of the week
  3. Oct. 10• Arts & Entertainment
    Wedge Cut American Wheat Ale, Cigar City Brewing Justin Grant  | tbt*
    The Tampa brewery scores again with the limited-release Wedge Cut. | Craft beer of the week
  4. 7th + Grove is split into two discrete spaces. The corner space is a bright and upbeat restaurant. Next door is the club. Courtesy of Ashley Canay and Ashley Meyer
    With Southern cuisine, strong cocktails and DJ-led events, the club and restaurant lives up to its motto: “Eat. Vibe. Flourish.” | Bar review
  5. Ask About Me Amber Ale, Green Bench Brewing Co. Justin Grant
    Ask Me About Amber Ale has the malt-forward flavor of a reliable classic. | Local craft beer of the week
  6. Kierstyn Breaux pours some old fashioneds she helped craft as part of the PBR Whiskey launch event in Tampa on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Daniel Figueroa IV
    From crafting cocktails with the spirit to designing the label, Tampa locals have been involved in launching the legendary brewery’s first spirit.
  7. Craft rum distillery, 82 West Distilling, opened a few months ago in Seminole Heights and recently celebrated its grand opening with neighbor Wine Bar Cafe on Saturday (Oct. 27). Special to the Times | 82 West Distilling MONIQUE WELCH  |  Courtesy of 82 West Distilling
    Tasting laws limit drinkers to two “samples,” but the Seminole Heights’ venue uses its rums to punch up craft cocktails. | Bar review
  8. Zongo IPA Tampa Bay Brewing Company
    The hazy New England-style IPA is on tap at the brewery’s tasting rooms in Ybor City and Westchase. | Craft beer of the week
  9. Sep. 15• Bars & Breweries
    Noble Crust may turn heads as an acclaimed pizza restaurant, but it also holds water as a celebrated brunch destination with a range of midday cocktails and drink buckets. Photo by Noble Crust
    Some favorite spots to catch a buzz with bacon.
  10. Kozuba and B Square vodkas. B Square is a brand produced by Kozuba and Sons. xxxxx
    Kozuba and Sons, Florida Cane and St. Petersburg Distillery make the list.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement