There are bartenders around town who have a certain je ne sais quoi. Kyle Hilla is one of them. You can tell that he had a hand in a beverage program when the presentations become as creative as the cocktails. He's the man behind the programs in The Statler's bars — Waterproof and Bourbon & Banter, which is famous for this cocktail that requires the use of a tiny hammer — and there's no question that he has a special touch. Fine China, the Statler's newest bar/restaurant, is obviously a Hilla program.
Fine China's cocktail list brings brightness and a particularly eastern feel to your experience. The Sino-French Connection is a melange of brightly colored ingredients — dried lime, hibiscus, orange, grapefruit and sage — with a pour-over of Takara Soju. Soju is a clear distilled spirit with roots in Korea, and is somewhat similar to vodka, with alcohol content ranging from 16 to 53 percent. Takara Soju weighs in at 35 percent alcohol (70 percent ABV), so the cocktail packs a bit less of a punch than a traditional cocktail.
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The unique presentation comes from a French press, and guests are given the opportunity to press the ingredients themselves as they steep in the soju. Even more fun? It's a cocktail for two, so find a friend who wants to push it with you. "Once pressed, Takara Soju and fruit fuse inside the French press, producing a deep shade of magenta and multiple flavor profiles throughout the life of the drink," Hilla says.
Sino-French Connection ($11): dried lime, hibiscus, orange, grapefruit and sage
Fine China, 1914 Commerce St. (Downtown)