Skip to main content

Sensi Magazine

The Kusanagi and Cake

Apr 09, 2019 01:59PM ● By Dawn Garcia


This cocktail hailing from the Far East is a product of the innovative minds of Cameron Masden, Head Barman of The Raymond 1886 in Pasadena, and Nathan Baker. The libation? The Kusanagi, named for the legendary sword made from a dragon tail gifted to the Japanese sun goddess Amaterasu by the storm god Susanoo to make up for his misdeeds. In recent years, this sword was acquired by 1886 and transformed into a true dragon’s tail cocktail.

“There are two integral components found everywhere in the world: a regional spirit that everyone drinks and a mythology or tall tale that stems from lessons for children, creationism, or in place of science for how the world functions,” explains Masden. “Sometimes these legends are cultural or political, sometimes both. Ultimately, the spirit and history tie directly together.”

Much like every hero must brave a test of endurance, all potential concoctions must go through The Raymond 1886 “five-palate rule” test. Once a cocktail has a name and a story, it must be approved by five others who have been through the 1886 bar program. “The five-palate rule test is an essential tradition to our creative process and how we select our cocktails,” explains Masden. “The 2019 Winter Cocktail Menu features 12 cocktails by eight contributors, and the Kusanagi is the first new drink on the list.”

• 1 droplet Hellfire bitters
• ¼ oz orgeat syrup
• ½ oz hibiscus syrup (1886 makes in-house, but you can buy it as well)
• ¾ oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
• 2 oz Haku vodka

STEP 1: Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker.
STEP 2: Shake and strain into a chilled coupe/martini glass.
STEP 3: Garnish with a fresh orchid. Enjoy responsibly.


You must always be ready to indulge in something beautifully sweet, especially after a fiery cocktail. With blueberries, lemon, and pine nut cake as the perfect accompaniment to the Kusenagi, we leave the Far East for London to join home cook Amaryllis Aphrodite Tsegou. Creating beautiful culinary renderings on her blog, The Tasty Other (THETASTYOTHER.COM), Tsegou has a unique, yet uncomplicated approach to cooking. “This is exactly how I love a cake to be: simple, sweet, delicious, maybe a little messy, but, oh, so satisfying,” explains Tsegou. “I suddenly missed making cakes, and this one is a damn simple one. While it’s not fancy or exceptional, there’s a lot to be said about small, familiar comforts.”

Blueberry, Lemon, Pine Nut Cake
• 1½ cups fresh blueberries, washed and patted dry
• 1 med. lemon, juice and zest
• 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, very thinly sliced
• 2 cups plain flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ cup unsalted butter, very soft
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 tsp ground mahleb (or pure vanilla extract)
• 3 medium eggs
• ½ cup milk (almond milk preferred)
• Icing sugar for serving

STEP 1: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bottom and sides of a round baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper and set aside.
STEP 2: Combine blueberries with lemon zest and basil. Set aside.
STEP 3: Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
STEP 4: Beat butter and sugar until pale and smooth; add the lemon zest and mahleb and combine. Add each egg, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add milk and combine.
STEP 5: Add dry ingredients, one big tablespoon at a time, with the mixer running, until incorporated.
STEP 6: Spoon half of batter onto the pan and top with basil blueberries. Cover with remaining batter and flatten top with the back of a tablespoon.
STEP 7: Bake in preheated oven for one hour, or until the top is golden brown and an inserted bamboo skewer comes out clean.