Cocktail Encino

Magic Mondays at Sushi|Bar

Magic|Bar takes over Sushi|Bar every Monday night in Encino—courtesy of magician and bartender Benjamin Schrader and friends from Hollywood’s The Magic Castle.

It can pay dividends for restaurateurs to be on the lookout for hidden talents in staffers. For example, Benjamin Schrader is a bartender who helps Phillip Frankland Lee and wife Margarita design their restaurants—four of which are housed in one Encino strip mall. When the couple discovered that he’s also an accomplished magician who performs at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, they gave him the keys to open up Sushi|Bar on Monday nights to host what they’re calling Magic|Bar. (The eatery was previously closed on Mondays.)

Sushi|Bar, located in a small space behind Woodley Proper, now hosts two ticketed shows at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. for $25 per person. Benjamin, along with some of his fellow magicians from the Castle, also concocts cocktails each week to accompany the tricks. The sushi chefs remain “off” on Mondays; food can be ordered from Woodley Proper.

An interactive 7 p.m. show that we recently experienced starred Siegfried Tieber, a master with card tricks who’s spent the past 12 years honing his skills. Headlining The Magic Castle is a prerequisite for performing at Magic|Bar, which Benjamin calls “an extension of the Castle.”

Seinfeld star Jason Alexander attended the 9 p.m. show, meaning 12 lucky guests got to spend time in close quarters with two masterful magicians along with a TV icon. Talk about magic.

Shows run approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Siegfried’s performance primarily centered on playing cards, though he did pull a $1 bill and $5 bill from his wallet for one trick. He’s a skilled showman and proceeded to teach a master class of misdirection involving sleight-of-hand. He recently fooled Penn & Teller on Penn & Teller: Fool Us on the CW network. He repeated the trick for us and had many untelevised surprises in his repertoire. As he said, “Magic is about creating tiny little mysteries to share and celebrate with others.” Benjamin cut in to perform a few tricks as well.

In addition to fare and drinks from Woodley Proper and Benjamin’s special cocktails ($15 each), two wine varietals ($12 each) are available. The night we attended the show, Sirius Black Cherry and Bullet Catch were listed on a blackboard. Sirius Black Cherry was a mule variation made with vodka, lime juice, ginger and black cherry, served over ice in a copper mug with a lime wheel and pomegranate aril garnish.

Bullet Catch featured bourbon, lime, honey, ginger, cinnamon on the rocks, topped with cinnamon-dusted whipped cream and a rabbit-shaped animal cracker. After all, pulling a rabbit from a hat is a classic magic trick. Not that you’d find a trick so trite at Magic|Bar.

16101 Ventura Blvd., Encino, 818-876-0818