Bubbles Meet Brawn

The Player’s Ball at Ozumo is a little bit summer and winter.


Ozumo bar manager Corina Seligman shows off The Player's Ball, which is both summery and wintery.

Photo Lori Eanes

LaFace Records doesn’t know it, but it’s part of the Oakland bar scene. True story: When execs asked rap duo Outkast for a holiday hit back in 1993, the musical twosome came through with a party-rousing jam, “Player’s Ball,” that would go on to become drinkable genius. The label execs may have realized they had a song to please listeners’ ears but never recognized the musical flavors would also be mouth-watering. Today, patrons can order this deliciously celebratory cocktail in the form of The Player’s Ball at the high-end Japanese restaurant Ozumo at Broadway and Grand.

When you sip this bubbles-and-brawn beverage, you may just hear its musical origins bumping in the background. This truly Oakland drink comes courtesy of bar manager Corina Seligman. “This is my interpretation of somebody asking me to do something holiday-ish,” she said. “So the thing is, fall is kind of like having trouble letting go of summer but introducing winter a little bit. And also, because we’re in the Bay Area, fall is kind of like our summer. So, I made it a hybrid of both, not like an obvious winter drink.”

Staying true to the essence of Japanese cuisine, Seligman created the cocktail with specific ingredients in mind. A twist on a French 75, The Player’s Ball is a mix of gin, lemon, and Prosecco, but with the addition of poached Asian pear purée made with lemongrass, nutmeg, and cinnamon. “Over it I put some grapefruit oil to add just a little more depth and bitterness, and then I sprinkle some nutmeg. So it’s nice and fresh, but it definitely has a little bit of that winter spice, kind of like, winter’s coming,” Seligman said.

Winter is coming, but strangely, this drink ignites less excitement about when Jon Snow will be taking the crown and a whole lot more enthusiasm for when Outkast will be debuting the next album.

Ozumo, 2251 Broadway, Oakland, 510-286-9866, www.Ozumo.com


The Player’s Ball

1.25 ounces poached Asian pear purée

.25 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon

2 dashes lemon bitters

1.75 ounces Nolet’s gin

.5 ounce Prosecco

Grapefruit oil, which comes from twisting a grapefruit peel over the drink

Grapefruit peel, for garnish

Sprinkle of nutmeg zest


Add the purée, lemon, lemon bitters, and gin to a shaker. Shake and double-strain into a coupe. Top with Prosecco and add grapefruit oil. Garnish with grapefruit peel and nutmeg zest.


Published online on Nov. 15, 2016 at 8:00 a.m.

Update Nov. 15, 11 a..m.: We're saddened to report that Ozumo owner Jeremy Umland has announced that the restaurant and bar will close on Nov. 20.