Atomix, the hotly anticipated contemporary Korean tasting menu concept from Atoboy tag team and husband-and-wife duo Junghyun and Ellia Park, has been impressing New Yorkers since its debut last spring. So much so that it nabbed the first spot on “The New York Times” critic Pete Wells’ Top 10 New Restaurants of 2018 list. Within a sleek and sexy NoMad townhouse, the team has built a space equipped with a 13-seat bar and lounge that presides over the lower-level 14-seat tasting counter.
Head bartender Jun Hyung Kwon, formerly of nearby modern Mexican eatery Cosme, helms the restaurant’s Asian-inspired libations, which include Korean ingredients and spirits like soju. New to the list is Kwon’s Kimchi Gibson, a Korean riff on a classic Gibson.
Atomix (image: Evan Sung)
The barman first thought to replace the pickled cocktail onion in a Gibson with a piece of radish kimchi. “But I had to figure out a Gibson recipe that would interact with the garnish,” he says.
Rather than a traditional red kimchi, he drew inspiration from dongchimi, a “winter season kimchi that’s not too briny but rather light, bittersweet and refreshing.” (The main difference between red and white kimchi is that white kimchi is kimchi without any spice/pepper added; red kimchi gets its color from the addition of red chilies.)
To balance the white kimchi’s saltiness and fermented flavor, Kwon turned to a sweeter gin, Hayman’s Old Tom gin, plus Beefeater London dry, in an even split, along with sweet vermouth instead of the classic dry. “The cocktail needed a little more acidity and sharpness, so I decided to infuse the vermouth with cilantro,” says Kwon.
At Atoboy, white kimchi juice is a kitchen byproduct. But since most don’t stock white kimchi at home, go for store-bought kimchi. Kwon recommends Kimchi Kooks, Mother in Law’s and Baek. “Each brand will differ in taste, just like how different branded Bloody Mary mixes impart different flavors,” says Kwon.