Pick your flavor at Blush Raw Bar. // Photo by Dave Lepori
When Blush Raw Bar owners Russ Fukushima and Taylor Kim decided to start a nightclub in San Jose, they toured the country from San Diego to Las Vegas to Miami and back. They discovered all kinds of niche trends that hadn’t yet made it to the South Bay yet, but the one that really clicked with them was frozen, blended cocktails. If they could come up with their own version in San Jose, they reasoned, they could engineer their own kind of cool.
“We wanted to do a spin on that, and have a sexy, elegant cocktail,” says Fukushima.
So they’ve spent the last two years experimenting with recipes, taking their slushie pursuit to obsessive levels.
“We actually had one of the machines in one of our homes,” he says. “It was a good time.”
All that cold-case work resulted in the Blush, the signature cocktail that has been part of their menu of slush drinks since the Blush Raw Bar Lounge opened in San Pedro Square Market in April.
“It’s going off like wildfire,” says Fukushima.
But it’s not just chemistry behind the Blush approach. There’s a philosophical aspect as well, believe it or not. A frozen drink can’t be downed like a shot—though Blush does have a full bar in addition to its specialty menu, the slow-acting slushes take the emphasis away from the wham-bam-thank-you-barman approach to imbibing and suggest a longer, more relaxed vibe.
“The cocktail creates a different experience,” says Fukushima. “We don’t want to be a nightclub. We consider ourselves a lounge. We want to present a comfortable, come-as-you-are atmosphere.”
Similarly, they brought a different approach to their menu. “We wanted to bring a raw concept here. Not just sushi, not just oysters. Everything is based on raw protein,” he says.
The industrial, ultramodern look of Blush ties the owners’ conceptual threads together. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Kim and Fukushima were able to make their ideas work together—they’ve been best friends since growing up together in Hawaii. They’d talked about doing a place together for years, but the idea started to seem a lot more realistic when Kim moved down to Northern California from Seattle.
“It got the point where we were just having beers and said ‘Why are we talking? Let’s just do it,’” remembers Fukushima, who went into the project with a decade’s experience in the restaurant business.
Expansion and franchising could be in their future, but for now, they’re just happy to see the response Blush has had so far.
“We’ve got a buzz going on,” he says. “San Jose needed something like this. It’s classy. It’s refreshing.”
Sort of like an ice-cold drink.
Blush Raw Bar Lounge
Inside San Pedro Market Square, 100 N. Almaden Ave., San Jose