Two Austin bartenders are looking to honor their heritages with a new Asian cocktail pop-up Daijoubu. Caer Maiko and Sharon Yeung will host their first pop-up at their home base, downtown cocktail bar Roosevelt Room, on Friday, March 22, Saturday, March 23, and Sunday, March 24 at 307 West 5th Street.
Daijoubu “was born out of our own frustrations,” said Maiko. “We were both often frustrated with the drinking options at most Asian restaurants, and considered it a real shame since Asian kitchens have such a variety of flavor.”
“There is more to Asian cocktails than the lychee martini,” said Maiko. “We want to empower the public to try new flavors in their drinks.”
It’s also a way for the duo to explore their own heritages. Maiko, who grew up in Southern California, is half-Japanese, and Yeung, who grew up in San Francisco, is Chinese.
They want to use their cocktail pop-up as a way of highlighting and being creative with those taste profiles and drinks. They’ll “take flavors from our mom’s kitchens or favorite Asian foods, and apply them to cocktails,” said Maiko. They won a recent competition with an orange chicken-inspired cocktail, the Ramon’s Revival, which used a sesame horchata made with anejo tequila, a “no chicken, orange chicken” syrup, and garnished with a fortune cookie.
Other cocktails they’re working on include, yes, their own iteration of the lychee martini, a flip with Chinese liquor Baijiu and caramel fish sauce.
The first pop-up menu will contain about 12 cocktails inspired by Chinese and Japanese cooking, “since those are our own cultures,” Maiko said. There will be a Year of the Pig Old Fashioned with WhistlePig rye whiskey, pork belly fat-washed rum, and Korean barbecue syrup in honor of the Lunar New Year.
The varying spaces for the pop-ups will feature decorations, images, and items from their own childhood and cultures, like paper cranes, manga books, and Sanrio knick-knacks. Music will span Korean and Japanese pop, and the Roosevelt Room’s projector will screen films and television shows ranging from director Akira Kurosawa to Sailor Moon.
Later pop-ups will draw inspiration from other Asian countries. There are also plans to travel to other cities too. They also want to bring in other Asian-American bartenders to showcase their takes with future menus.
The name daijoubu is Japanese for the word “fine.” The Roosevelt Room team uses the word “dramatically” to say it’s fine when they’re frustrated, explained Maiko.
The first Daijoubu cocktail pop-up will take place at the mezzanine level of Roosevelt Room for three evenings starting at 6 p.m. until midnight or 2 a.m. depending on how busy it gets.