When Caer Maiko and Sharon Yeung entered Austin’s bartending scene and began to develop their styles, they noticed more and more that, representationally, the state of things was . . . just fine. The roles carved out for Asian immigrants and their fellow Asian Americans behind and in front of the bar were okay, and the cocktail programs at Asian restaurants, while at times formulaic, were tried and true and adequate. Eventually, though, a calling emerged and it grew louder—why not strive for more?
Their response: the pop-up cocktail experience Daijoubu. This name translates to “fine,” which they now cleverly wear as a badge, serving as a reminder that a new and improved status quo is well within reach. Overflowing with attitude and excitement, and with boldly flavored, garnished drinks to match, the project is a revolution in the making—which Austin alone cannot contain.
Until the “Daijoubus” tours your neck of the woods, it doesn’t get any more local than this jam-packed box showing up right to your door. Savory, sweet, and sometimes with touches of heat, its three cocktails showcase delicate and earthy Japanese shochu (or gin, as a fine alternative) and borrow from the culinary and cultural traditions of Asia as seen through the lens of seasoned and creative Asian American bartenders.
The Daijoubu mission is an honorable one that encapsulates something very dear to us at Shaker & Spoon, a company founded by two immigrants. And the results of our collaboration with Caer and Sharon are delicious, drinkable salutes to all those with more than one sense of home and belonging. Whether that’s your story too, we invite you to take a sip and see what we mean! Subscribe now through February 3rd to get your Daijoubu Box—it’ll ship that week!
Within Parker Luthman’s Seoulful Sour, shochu’s quiet aromatic qualities provide the perfect base for the fruity, zesty, rich, and savory additions of the pineapple Szechuan pepper cordial, the gochujang-honey syrup, and the crown of gochugaru-salt on the rim—and tying it all together, the lingering umami of toasted sesame will leave you primed for another sip. Brimming with the diverse flavors of Korean kitchens and beaming with a bright color straight from the capital city’s nightscape, it’s a cocktail that comes straight from the heart and Seoul!
Parker’s journey began in South Korea and led to shining roles at the Eddy and the Dean Bar in Providence, Rhode Island. His love for competition has earned him several bartending accolades, while his love for the industry as a whole has allowed him to work as an emerging leader. He’s chosen to donate 50% of his proceeds from this box to Wide Horizons For Children (WHFC), an organization dedicated to orphan care, adoption, and post-adoption services worldwide.
For some behind-the-scenes tidbits from Parker on his creative process and the story behind his cocktail (including suggested food pairings!), check out our interview!
Have yourself a party with a piquant cocktail that Mary Palac, of San Jose’s Paper Plane, designed as a bridge connecting her California hometown and her Filipino heritage. The Sili-con Valley gets its prefix from the Tagalog word for “chili,” which gives tangy Dati Puti Spiced Vinegar the irresistible flavor that’s made it a household staple to have on hand for all lechon or lumpia seasoning needs. It also makes for a stimulating player in this clean and classy Gibson homage! The crisp cocktail mellows the condiment’s signature brininess and spice with a floral and subtle white pepper syrup and cool shochu, but still boasts just enough sili-ness after all!
Mary was born in the Philippines but grew up in the Bay Area. She’s a founding member and president of the United States Bartenders Guild Silicon Valley and an alumna of the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Cocktail Apprentice Program, the BAR 5-Day program at Camp Runamok, and many other industry programs. She’s chosen to donate 50% of her proceeds from this box to UNICEF’s Pacific Measles campaign to help fight the ongoing outbreak in Samoa.
Bond strengthening and spiritual in nature, the traditional tea ceremony has always been a decorative and dramatic occasion. Speaking to this in his Book of Tea, Okakura Kakuzo fondly asserted that “tea is more than an idealization of the form of drinking; it is a religion of the art of life.” The graceful and serene ABC Tea starts with a foundation of a rich, black Chinese varietal and smooth, light shochu and flavors it with lemon and an Okinawan demerara sugar syrup that lends a dark, molasses-like complexity. Whether you prepare this cocktail hot or Arnold Palmer–style, please allow Daijoubu founders Caer Maiko and Sharon Yeung to open your mind and palate to the spiritual beauty of this elemental beverage.
Caer has been immersed in Japanese culture her whole life: her Japanese mother and LA’s abundance of Japanese food and culture allowed her to connect to the Asian half of her roots. She started bartending in Boston 7 years ago and now works and lives in Austin, running the program at the Eleanor and bartending at the Roosevelt Room.
Sharon’s family emigrated from Canton, China, and set their roots in San Francisco, where she was born. After bartending all over the Bay Area for more than 10 years, she made the move to the Roosevelt Room in Austin and was quickly promoted to lead bartender and assistant bar manager.
Between the two, Caer and Sharon have gained bar-related numerous accolades, and together the pair have chosen to donate 50% of their proceeds from this box to the Asia Foundation, which is on the ground in 18 Asian countries working to strengthen governance, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, empower women, and promote international cooperation.
By the time the Daijoubu Box lands on your doorstep, we’ll have officially rung in the Lunar New Year and entered the Year of the Rat, honoring an animal that symbolizes imagination and vitality. Get ready to leap into a festive February and experience cocktails that will pique the very same qualities in you. (And if you’re extra lucky, the box you receive may be one of those randomly chosen to be graced with a bonus Daijoubu sticker, koozie, or t-shirt!)
The Shaker & Spoon Team
*not vegan: gochujang-honey syrup
*not gluten-free: gochujang-honey syrup and norimaki senbei cracker garnish