One of South Florida's first mead-focused taprooms is set to be transformed into the area's first sake-producing one.
In June, the owners of Ceiba, Eric Seidmon and Sean McClain, announced they'd be handing over the production space and taproom in the Bird Road Arts District to a new venture, Shōjō's Dojo.
The creation of former Lincoln's Beard Brewing Co. and current Shōjō Beer Co. founder/brewer Haidar Hachem and his marketing professional wife, Marilyn Orozco, the new venture will be Miami's first sake brewery when it opens on Saturday, August 5.
A buzzy accomplishment to be sure, but the couple promises the space will offer more than sake. Craft beer collaborations and releases are part of the plan, and the menu will include a variety of Japanese eats as well as wine-based cocktails and homages to Ceiba's locally beloved meads and ciders.
The new space will be a blend of the owners' combined heritages, with culinary offerings and events to match the vibe. Hachem and Orozco say they plan to release small-batch sakes, table sakes, and craft beers produced onsite.
"It's a major blending of our heritages: My husband is Lebanese, and I'm Nicaraguan," Orozco says. "But the biggest thing is that the space is Japanese-forward. The second you walk through the doors, you're transported to the streets of Japan. Think Tokyo's downtown with alleyways, neon signs, graffiti art, and more."
The Shōjō's Dojo space may be cozy at 1,000 square feet, but it can accommodate up to 50 guests, and Hachem sees its potential as an intimate venue for a variety of weekly and one-off events. As for imbibing, expect to find a rotating lineup of flavored sake and wine slushies alongside a sommelier-curated wine and sake list, sake and wine cocktails, and Shōjō Beer Company pours, which have recently included collaborations with the likes of King Fox Brewery, Unseen Creatures, and Lincoln's Beard.
An in-house food menu is meant to complement the selection of on-tap beverages with an assortment of prepackaged foods that ranges from an Asian-inspired bar mix and wasabi popcorn to hot plates like coin-purse empanadas stuffed with vegetable stir-fry and Japanese-inspired sandwiches like tamago egg. Desserts will include mochi and cookies.
The grand opening of Shōjō's Dojo will hail the arrival of a new enterprise but also pay homage to its predecessor by celebrating national mead day (the first Saturday of August) with the final release of two new flavors of the brand's "Ciderbration" sparkling cider.
"We have been friends with Eric and Sean even before we all became part of the industry," Hachem tells New Times. "While this transfer has been bittersweet because we saw friends not make it, it's sweet to know that we can carry on in this location and continue to make it a cool experience for our community while still selling Ceiba products."
As part of the festivities, Orozco and Hachem will perform a traditional Japanese sake barrel-breaking ceremony with "Drop" — their take on a nama genshu junmai ginjo sake. The ceremony will begin at 8 p.m., followed by entertainment by DJ Master Feathers and bites from Che Tanita. (The sake, which is unpasteurized and undiluted and typically packs a concentrated, robust flavor and an equally eyebrow-raising alcohol content, will be on offer for $12 for a two-ounce pour.)
Looking ahead, Hachem says to count on "Sip and Spin Sundays," featuring a curated menu of vinyl jams and special brunch cocktails, including in-house bloody marys made with sake and wine.
"With all we do, and every brew, our goal is to try to be different," Orozco sums up. "For example, we always try to find ways to get a percentage of profits to a nonprofit organization. We're always trying to make a difference — even if it's just a little bit — in this world and in our community."
Shōjō's Dojo. 4233 SW 75th Ave., Miami; instagram.com/shojosdojo. Grand opening Saturday, August 5, 2 to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday 5 p.m. to midnight, Saturday 2 p.m. to midnight, and Sunday 2 to 8 p.m.