Photo by Ken30684/Flickr CC
I have to admit that after a trip to the High Five Bar, I'm swooning over the "Japanese Way" of bartending. Perhaps it leads me to my biggest faux pas of the evening. When assistant bartender Karita Kazuki of Tender Bar asks me whether I think American bartenders or Japanese bartenders are better, I begrudgingly say, "Japanese."
My wife reminds me that my decision may be guided more by fascination than fact, and I need to learn more before I let my gimlet do the talking. But the truth is, after visiting the top bars in Tokyo I believe that these bars have a sense of detail and service that rivals if not bests America's top bars, at least the ones I know and frequent.
What really went to my head isn't necessarily the alcohol but watching Tender Bar's master bartender Kazuo Ueda's rigorous "hard shake," which has been described in detail elsewhere. It's mesmerizing and the result is undeniably delicious. His gimlet is made of Gordon's gin, fresh lime juice and sugar syrup, which some would argue is not a true gimlet except that when you take a sip you're transported--this is a gimlet. The aromatic profile is a tad more generous then using preserved lime but the consistency is weighty and seamless. Sailors would have been lucky to drink this cocktail on a long voyage.