Soundless: the art of Japanese bartending

19 December, 2018 by tallenby

Article reposted from BARS&clubs’ Summer issue – read more below!

Two of Asia’s best bartenders, Rogerio Igarashi (Bar Trench, Tokyo) and Hisatsugu Saito (Ars & Delecto, Shanghai) were the stars of two Aussie bar takeovers hosted by Nikka in late September.

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For one night only, at Door Knock in Sydney and 1806 in Melbourne, Igarashi and Saito served up five delicious, bespoke cocktails – including the Trench 75, a take on the French 75 especially for the Aussie market – all mixed with Nikka products, including the newly released gin and vodka. Nursing a slight headache, BARS&clubs caught up with the duo the following day to get to know them a little better.

B&C: IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR YOU’VE NOTICED ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN SCENE WHILE YOU’VE BEEN HERE?

Rogerio Igarashi: One thing I would say about the Australian customer – we have a lot of Australians coming to our bar in Tokyo too – is that they are quite conscious about what they want to have and what they want to drink. If they order a G&T or a gimlet, they’ll point to that gin, or that gin. So flavourwise they’re quite knowledgeable about what they want. Also, you guys drink really fast!

HOW WOULD YOU GUYS DEFINE ‘JAPANESE BARTENDING’?

Hisatsugu Saito: For me, Japanese bartending is welcoming people with hospitality from the beginning to the end. It’s focusing on the small details, with lots of preparation, and providing an all-round experience. It’s all about balance.

RI: If I could choose a word to explain a Japanese bartender I would say ‘soundless’. Even in service, we talk less, we try to realise things before we talk. All of the time we are respecting the other person; even when making cocktails, we try to respect the customer having a conversation – when I open and close a fridge door, and when I walk I try to not make noise, because their conversation is more important than me making noise. The bar could be loud, but there’s always the feeling from the bartender of trying to make less sound.

Read the full interview on Issuu below, or if browsing on your mobile, click here: