May 23, 2018
May 08, 2017
Japanese inspired Zen/ritual is embedded into craft mixology!
To understand the why of why Japanese ritual has been so impactful to the 21st Century bar, we need to look back briefly into Japanese history.
Bushido, the Japanese art of samurai swordsmanship, encapsulated the moral values such as mastery, honour and loyalty.
A Samurai’s apprenticeship was a long journey of repetition, consistency and respect. The successful earned the right to become a samurai.
To many this form of study or really understudying, parallels the journey of craft bartenders seeking to deliver liquid enlightenment in a glass to a grateful guest.
Ironically Japanese bar techniques have also assisted bartenders to find a new path to deliver service, experience and exceptional cocktails to guests; the welcome antidote to the bravado and theatrics many see in Flair bartending.
Japanese techniques such as jiggering, shaking, stirring ,combined with ice ritual become the cartas of a new bar order!
At Über™, we lovingly refer to the continuum of hospitality mastery as Bar-Shido™.
August 23, 2015
For most of us in the industry there lies a certain mysterious air around Japan, a secretive knowledge of history that is far deeper than pre-prohibition cocktails or the preferred drink of English Kings. It is not an understanding of fact or instance but of earthly pursuits— of precision and order.
Japanese bartending is unique in the sense that it extends beyond the way a drink tastes, and though the finest and most considered ingredients are often used, drinking in Japan is not spawned from a cocktail list, but rather a cocktail experience.
For those working in Japan a “classic” is more than a recipe, it is instead something of noble tradition—and making these classics become an art well before the final pour. Like seasoned chefs or dojo masters, many aspiring high-level Japanese bartenders have been known to train for years before ever stepping foot behind a bar during service. However once there, they craft cocktails with restrained perfection, carve ice with seeming ease, and embody the ethics of hospitality to the very core.
Western visitors have commented that when served in the finer bars of Tokyo, the cocktail was placed in front of them with the same level of care as when a jeweller places his most expensive diamond on a mat for viewing. The result is a drink so beautiful, so perfect and so steeped in ritual that a customer is almost afraid to breathe in its presence for fear of ruining the illusion. By the time he or she is ready to sip they have formed such connection to the experience that the night will likely never be forgotten.
Of course there is a downside to such craft, especially when transferred out of the small private dining clubs of Tokyo – many which only sit 10 to 12 patrons. In a less ridged market, where even a small bar can mean upwards of 100 guests at any given time, the ability to meet volume and still maintain such severe and rigorous talent is obviously taxed.
So what can you take away from Japanese bar culture? What is possible (or moreover feasible) to duplicate in your bar?
The answer, at any level, is refinement.
If you are a large bar, refine the ritual of how you value customers, do you welcome them? Do you listen to them? Are your glasses clean? While you may not have the time or capacity to provide a full experience, refining the points of hospitality that are often ignored – like greeting, is a step at harnessing the respect and professionalism Japanese bartenders communicate to their guests.
If you are a mid-tier bar, refine you tools. Replace worn glassware, teach a proper hard shake (the technique was invented in Japan), and invest in stirring or straining equipment that provide a level of imperial dignity to the acts. Equipment that is streamlined and easy to use across stations allow for more elegant applications of technique, even in higher volume situations. Most importantly once you have the proper tools to facilitate heighten technique (in little time) ensure they are respected.
If you are a craft bar, refine your presentation. Allow guests to connect with their drinks as closely as your bartenders who create them. Allow them to watch as the whisk(e)y is gently poured over the rounded ice, and then swirled to chill, using an elegant, extra-long bar spoon with a trident on one end that is so revered in Japan. Develop a higher level of theatre and consistency that will translate in their eyes into intrigue, remembered experience, and loyalty. Take notice of BarShido, our notion of the study, repetition and respect attained from a long and practiced pursuit.
For those who possess the right environment and a level of commitment, making the benefits of Japanese bar culture more readily utilised is not a difficult feat. There are many additional techniques that can be easily learned by top level professionals. Have a look at the following styles explored by industry experts who have made a point to see the ritual culture of presentation travel well across international markets.
April 30, 2015
Japanese inspired barware has captured the imagination of bartenders throughout the world.
The spirit of Zen mastery, now infuses tool-ology in a way we refer to as BarShido™... (see BarShido™, the way of The Bartender).
Tool-ology we define as: the mythology, mastery and mimicry of tool design based on unchanged historical cues.
Ironically many Japanese tool re-sellers love the tools, yet hate the prices and mostly now offer Japanese “style” or “inspired” alternatives sourced from other Asian countries!
Some unwitting buyers feel somewhat cheated when their investment netted tools “inspired by” rather than “originating from”, Japan! The difference measured in terms of quality and longevity, as inevitably you pay for
what you get!
Über has always believed in innovation based on the evolution of human centred design thinking. What this means, as our understanding of workplace need, efficiency and ergonomics improves, so too should the empowering tools used to underpin that work.
It would come as no surprise that Über's re-imagining of Japanese tools such our new Ice Forks, Picks and Jiggers would become the pieces in a reverse selling process back to Japan… the equivalent we think of of selling “ice to the Eskimos!”
Consider Jiggers without a meniscus… ice tools where safety (eliminating hand slippage), modularity (replaceable parts to allow for indefinite tool life) and comfort grips were key elements of our design!
Australian based Japanese bar tender Chiharu Tomizawa… kindly lent her ice mastery talents to the Japanese speaking demo of our new ice tools... it’s worth checking out here... even if you don’t speak Japanese!
As the voyage to reverse sell Über design back to Japan evolves, join us on this journey... if nothing else, it’s guaranteed to be interesting.
October 29, 2014
Note: Today’s blog is dedicated to Dushan Zaric from Employees Only NYC.
Japanese inspired Zen/martial thinking has become embedded into top line mixology!
Bushido, the Japanese art of samurai swordsmanship, encapsulates moral values such as mastery, honour and loyalty, paralleling the aspirations of elite bartenders around the world.
A Samurai’s apprenticeship is the journey of study, repetition, consistency and respect, attained after long pursuit; mimicking the path top bartenders journey to attain liquid enlightenment.
On-going fascination with Japanese bartending technique is espoused by friends such as Hidetsugu Ueno whose insight and learning provides Western/non-Japanese bartenders with a differentiated world view; helping to position the pyramid of bartending above main street bartenders and bars now populating every city streetscape.
Jiggering, shaking, stirring within a context of immaculately conceived ice execution, form the cartas in the new bar order!
At Über™, we lovingly refer to this quest for attainment as BarShido™.
Our reverence for Japan and Zen mastery extends 2 generations, when our founder’s father, Howard (a Japanese speaker), established successful, lifelong business and personal relationships at a time when such openness and curiosity of Japan was considered “unthinkable”!
We see Zen balance and harmony reflected in nature, inspiring elite bartenders to craft masterpieces in a continuum of hospitality experiences and excellence!
Über’s tribute to BarShido™ is reflected in our newest innovations due in 2015!