The Way of the Cocktail: a video tribute to Japanese bartending

Pouring a cocktail Western-style. I couldn't find decent shots of Japanese style, sorry. At least it's pretty.

Pouring a cocktail Western-style. I couldn’t find decent shots of Japanese style, sorry. At least it’s pretty.

This video is a thing of beauty and joy forever. Sponsored (self-interestedly) by Nikka Whisky, it features multiple American cocktail experts as well as several pre-eminent Japanese bartenders explaining how the Japanese and American approaches to bartending differ. It’ll make you ashamed of your secret flair bartending video addiction. The assemblage of experts includes Frank Cisneros, Lucinda Sterling, Joaquin Simo, Jon Santer, Ulysses Vidal (who has the most glorious nomenclature in all of Alcoholica), Camper English, Hiroyasu Kayama, Yoko Nakata, Kazuyuki Kumagai, Ikkei Honma, and the comparatively newborn youngster Hisatsugu Saito, who really aught to be carded.

Expert nonetheless!

The video, which is a hair over seventeen minutes, is gorgeously shot and well-edited, featuring interesting and quotable observations and beautiful cocktails and mixing throughout. It had independently occurred to me that watching a great Japanese bartender is akin to watching a great magician onstage, and I was pleased to see that metaphor cited by one of the experts here, who’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know about mixing drinks.

Japan’s influence on contemporary bartending is hard to overstate. Are you an ice snob? So are thousands of people, and you can thank Japan for that. A really top quality Japanese bar should be on your bucket list.

Enjoy a really fascinating deep dive into the world of Japanese bartending; a world, we feel, far too refined to admit the noxious word “mixology.”


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