Japan Feed

Until last year there were only three Japanse whiskies on the US market, all of which are made by the company Suntory. In the years since, interest in these whiskies has increased and so has the number of them for sale stateside, available in a wide variety of prices and flavors. Now there are more than a dozen you can find if you look hard enough, ranging anywhere from $60 to $200 for standard bottlings and into the thousands for limited editions. Read more →

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During Hawaii Cocktail Week at the bar The Manifest I attended a seminar lead by Takayuki Suzuki, in which Suzuki demonstrated several cocktails. It was terrific and I'll do my best to explain how so. I think I've observed modern Japanese bartending enough now to make a few observations about their style and philosophy: Four ingredients is a lot. They're not afraid of artificially-colored liqueurs as we are in other countries. Green and blue liqueurs are common in high-end cocktail bars Drink-making technique can reflect the philosophical goal of the cocktail, whereas in the US it's always just about what's... Read more →

Get Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF.


In the December issue of Oakland Magazine, I have a short piece about Japanese drinking culture in Oakland. The story is centered on UmamiMart, the online and brick-and-mortar shop selling Japanese bar (and kitchen) tools. I also mention big ice (of course) at places like Prizefighter, and Japanese whisky like Yamazaki, Hibiki, and Hakushu at the traditional Ippuku and at Acme bar. The magazine is available for reading in one of those online reader formats. The link is here and the story is on page 21-22. If you like Japanese whisky and bars, here are some other blog posts I... Read more →

Get Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF.


I have a short piece in the new issue of Caviar Affair magazine describing the influence of Japanese bartending on the rest of the world. The magazine also has lots of pricey booze recomendations, stories about port and cognac, and a few bartenders you may know. The digital version of the magazine is at this link, and my Japanese bartending story is on page 39. Read more →

Get Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF.


Here are some observations about bars in Japan from my trip with Suntory whiskies. You can smoke in bars in Japan. Bars were all a little bit smoky, but none of them I visited were smoky that your eyes hurt. When you enter a cocktail bar and most other types of bars, they give you a hot wet towel to wipe your hands. Even the low-end bars give you a wet-nap version of this. This is lovely and I'd like to see some bars in the US do it. For many bars it's seated customers only. You pop your head... Read more →

Get Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF.


On my five-day visit to Japan with Suntory whiskies I hit 21 bars by my count. I am talking about them in groups. Next up: The Rest of Them. The difference between the various styles of bars is subtle and I'm defining them as I see them. I'll be describing whisky bars, cocktail bars, highball and standing bars, and pubs/clubs/dives. This is that last section. Rippongi Nouen is actually a restaurant but it's notable because they serve highballs with flavors like ginger and rosemary. The restaurant has big glass cubes in the back that have (or used to have, can't... Read more →

Get Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF.


On my five-day visit to Japan with Suntory whiskies I hit 21 bars by my count. I am talking about them in groups. Next up: Standing and Highball Bars. The difference between the various styles of bars is subtle and I'm defining them as I see them. I'll be describing whisky bars, cocktail bars, highball and standing bars, and pubs/clubs/dives. As far as I can tell, highball bars are all standing bars but I'd imagine there are standing bars that don't specialize in highballs. As you can guess, standing/highball bars are bars in which everyone is standing up drinking at... Read more →

Get Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF.


On my five-day visit to Japan with Suntory whiskies I hit 21 bars by my count. I am talking about them in groups. Next up: Cocktail Bars. The difference between the various styles of bars is subtle and I'm defining them as I see them. I'll be describing whisky bars, cocktail bars, highball and standing bars, and pubs/clubs/dives. Many cocktail bars look pretty much like whisky bars, since so many bars carry a massive amount of scotch. Bar High Five is run by Japan's most famous bartender, Hidetsugu Ueno (Ueno-san). It was voted one of the world's 50 best bars.... Read more →

Get Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF.