Experience, Opportunity & Community: A Q&A With Julia Momose, Kumiko

With countless awards and accolades received as a mixologist, menu developer, and bar & restaurant owner, Julia Momose has remained humble, focusing on hospitality in every aspect of her work. In 2018, Momose opened an intimate dining space in Chicago’s West Loop called Kumiko, which features a carefully-crafted omakase-style menu and innovative Japanese-inspired cocktails. Her passion and creativity have become true forces within the industry and we’re so honored to have had the opportunity to feature her on Highballs at High Noon.

Be sure to check out the Japanese Whisky Highball Julia made for us live on Highballs at High Noon, watch her live session with Mary on Instagram (part 1 and part 2), and pre-order her new book The Way of the Cocktail!

Download the free Highballs at High Noon e-book here!
Julia Momose. (Image credit: Caleb Lee Adams)

Q: What was it that first got you into cocktails?

Julia Momose: My first visit to a secret cocktail bar in Japan instilled in me the desire to create experiences for people -- like the incredible experience I had in that dimly lit Kyoto jazz bar.

Q: What new cocktail discoveries are you exploring right now?

JM: This has been an ongoing pursuit of mine, but ways to minimize waste in the bar is a key element. It affects both the product as well as operations and the very way the drink is made.

Q: Why do you think people at home might be intimidated by making cocktails?

JM: Accessibility to ingredients is one thing, and tools. But the amazing thing about cocktails is that sometimes you only need two or three ingredients, a glass and ice and you are good to go!

Q: What are some of your favorite cocktails to make at home?

JM: The Japanese whisky highball, chūhi (shōchū highball), and freezer martini.

Q: What do you take to a party?

JM: I don't go to many parties! When I have in the past, I have been on drink duty. Usually a bottle of champagne, and depending on the meal: wine, vermouth, or nihonshu.

Q: Where do you think the cocktail and bar industry is headed?

JM: We are creating a new way to operate and for guests to experience us. It is an exciting and scary time. I hope that the changes that come are those that bring our staff to the forefront, making sure they are paid fairly and that they are protected.

Q: What has the pandemic taught you?

JM: That we are not alone. I learned to reach out during this past year. In doing so I was able to successfully lobby to change a liquor law in Illinois to allow us to sell cocktails for carryout. Moreso, I have had the chance to connect with other women and Asian-Americans in the hospitality industry. The pandemic closed our doors but gave us the chance to look outside our four walls.

Follow Kumiko and Julia Momose on Instagram.

Follow Top Note Tonic for the latest Highball at High Noon sessions.



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