Negroni Tea House – Garden & Gun
In Atlanta’s frenetic West Midtown neighborhood, Mujo offers a minimalist retreat. The omakase restaurant, which opened in February 2022, and its interior of black tiles, red accents and cedar countertops creates a clean-lined yet sophisticated atmosphere, which carries over to the dining and drinking experience.
Mujō is the brainchild of Fred Castellucci, the president of the Castellucci Hotel Groupand Jordan Trent Harris, a sushi chef who moved to Atlanta from New York, where he worked at such renowned sushi restaurants as Sushi Ginzo Onodera. In two years, Mujō has grown from an early pandemic pop-up to the current 1,500-square-foot restaurant, which only seats fifteen people at a time at the sushi bar (with only four seats per night).
While Atlanta is full of omakase experiences, only Mujō offers edomae-style sushi, which involves drying and marinating fish to preserve and enhance its flavors. The style dates back hundreds of years, but Mujō adds a twist, bringing in fish weekly from Tokyo for their daily changing menu and serving it with locally grown produce.
The cocktail list, created by mixologist Mike Satusky, focuses on variations on the classics. A daiquiri made with kabosu, a Japanese citrus fruit, for example, and a riff on Japanese shochu highball. “There are definitely innovative people out there doing really wildly inventive things,” Satusky says, “but classics are classics for a reason.”
The Negroni Tea House, in particular, stands out. Satusky gives the classic Italian aperitif a layer of umami by infusing a gin distilled in Japan with hojicha, a roasted green tea. “It has more roasted notes, caramel, a bit of vanilla, and it doesn’t have that vegetal character that other green teas can have,” says Satusky. “Something that would go a little better, especially with Campari and vermouth.”
Infusing gin yourself is actually quite simple. “It’s generally a method I often recommend for people who want to get a little more involved in the process of making a drink at home, beyond popping a hard seltzer can,” says Satusky.
Avoiding a traditional pine-based gin, Satusky instead uses and recommends citrus-based gin Nikka Coffey, which has only subtle hints of juniper. The kabosu and yuzu notes in the gin shine through, he explains, and complement the bittersweet Campari.
The resulting drink tastes both bitter and lemony, with earthy undertones, making it a great aperitif or cocktail light enough to enjoy alongside a meal (sushi optional).