The United States and Britain are usually regarded as the leaders of the cocktail world. But there’s actually another mixology super power: Japan. Surprised? The country offers much more than just sake and has a thriving and historic bar culture, which has recently begun to influence Western bartenders. Here are a few Japanese trends to look out for.
The Hard Shake:
There’s an old adage that every barman shakes a drink to his own rhythm. Japanese master mixologist Kazuo Uyeda (pictured above) has a “hard shake,” which supposedly produces a smoother and more aerated cocktail. Thankfully for us, an English translation of his book Cocktail Technique comes out next week. He’ll be in New York for the launch and to lead a two-day Japanese cocktail technique master class. (Tickets are $675, but the first 10 people to sign up and use our discount code— LIQ510—will save $175.)
Over the last ten years, American bartenders have become increasingly obsessed with ice (see our story Ice Age). But in Japan freezing water is practically an art form and whiskey is often served with a giant ice ball. These rock-hard spheres are beginning to be used in some US bars and will no doubt become more popular.
Since being introduced last fall, Suntory’s blended Hibiki 12-Year-Old Whisky ($60) has become a favorite of bartenders. The smooth, light spirit with fruity notes is now being used in a range of cocktails. Suntory recently published Japanese Cocktails by Yuri Kato, which features a number of recipes calling for the whisky, including the Black Ship and Maneki-Tini.