Young Bartenders in the Spotlight by Drink Planet Focuses! Vol.4 
Four U30s Leading the Way in 2024  
- Part 1 -


Young Bartenders in the Spotlight by Drink Planet Focuses! Vol.4
Four U30s Leading the Way in 2024
- Part 1 -

#Pick up

Onodera Hiroaki/小野寺総章/Bar Soutsu、Yamamoto Ashu/山本亜周/深夜喫茶マンサルド

The New Year in Doripura starts with a young bartender project! The annual "U30", this year we will again introduce under-30 bartenders of the editorial department's attention from Tokyo, Osaka, and Kumamoto.

writer:Ryoko Kuraishi

Mr. Onodera is the owner-bartender of Bar Soutsu, a gin specialty bar in Koiwa. He also composes music as a hobby. "Whenever I have a good time, I have a drink, get tipsy, play the piano, and compose songs," he says. It's nice to have a hobby that doesn't make you look like a 20-something!

We pick up four bartenders who will lead the bar scene of the future. We introduce their identities, including their special cocktails, what they keep in mind on a daily basis, and what is needed for the bar scene of the future.

The first is Soaki Onodera, 28, who has been running his own gin specialty bar "Bar Soutsu" in Koiwa for seven years and also runs "Gin Lab Japan.

First, tell us how you became a bartender.

I started working part-time at a bar to overcome my shyness. I was a college student. At the time, I was thinking of going into IT or web-related fields, but once I started learning about alcohol, I was captivated by this world. After that, I worked part-time at a variety of restaurants and learned not only about alcohol, but also management, interior design, and flow lines. I opened this restaurant when I was 22 years old, while I was still in college.

In cocktail making, the emphasis is on how to bring out the individuality of gin. This is the "Salt and Gin & Tonic.

The Cocktail Shop" in Kameido was an influence in the creation of the restaurant. I was impressed by their style of having a flat price regardless of the brand of alcohol.

I was a college student at the time, and "budget" was a big hurdle to studying at the bar.

I thought this bar was like a dreamland, where I could order whatever I wanted without worrying about the price.

Influenced by this style, we set all our menu items under ¥1500.

What is important to you in creating a bar, having opened a highly specialized bar in your 20s?

There are many unique gins made in various countries and regions around the world.

We want our customers to try a variety of gins by using flavors as a gateway, so we dare not put up a menu, but instead talk about the flavor chart.

Floral, woody, spicy, juniper, and ...... the first step is to find the direction you prefer, and then we will help you further subdivide the flavors to find the one you like best. We would like to help you in this way.

We also value communication with our customers.

There are many different gin makers, each with their own unique background.

We use keywords such as the customer's taste, lifestyle, and music preferences to suggest gins that would suit the customer's tastes.

Many of our customers have a nose for fragrances, including colleagues in the industry, people in the culinary industry, and perfumers, and I have learned a lot from them.

When we first opened, I was nervous about whether a highly specialized bar on the outskirts of Tokyo would be accepted, but it has been a great success in this area where communication is easy.

Bar Soutsu" in Koiwa, Tokyo (left) and "Midnight Cafe Mansardo" in Umeda, Osaka (right).

What is the key to making cocktails, Onodera-san?

Many of my cocktails are twists on classic cocktails such as Negronis and gin and tonics, but since gin is the main ingredient in our cocktails, I try to make cocktails that bring out the character of that gin.

We also want our cocktails to broaden the horizons and worlds of those who drink them, to tickle their curiosity, and so on.

Thankfully, many of our customers have started visiting other bars because of our cocktails.

I continue to study every day in the hope that my cocktails and my company can help enrich the bar experience for everyone.

What are your future challenges?

What I would like to do at the store is to enhance the gin flavor chart.

Sake and beer have relatively advanced research on flavors, but I feel that gin is still in its infancy.

The flavors of gin are as broad and deep as those of perfume, so I would like to develop a flavor chart that will help people learn about gin.

I would also like to be involved in the production of dry tonic water.

Tonic water has a nice unique bitter taste, but many people don't like the sweetness. If you make a sonic style that avoids sweetness, the bitterness, which is an important element in tonic water, is suppressed. That is too much of a waste.

It would be nice if we could be involved in the production of dry tonic water that is readily available overseas.

The second person next is Ashu Yamamoto, 29, owner-bartender of the hot bar "Midnight Cafe Mansardo" in Osaka.

We will now take a closer look at the secret behind the popularity of "Mansardo," a curious business model that is both a coffee shop and a bar!

When he was a student, Mr. Yamamoto worked part-time at a bar once a week. After quitting college and entering a technical college, he worked as a web production director and designer, but decided to make a fresh start and set up his own restaurant. I thought it would be fun to have a place where my friends could gather casually, like a coffee shop or a bar," he says.

The "late-night coffee shop" business style is very modern and nice.

Because I myself love coffee shops. I like to drop in before work, relax and read a book, or just chat with friends. I spend my days and nights in a variety of ways.

I also like bars, but I am not a strong drinker, so I use coffee shops instead.

So in our house, those who want to drink drink drink alcohol, and those who don't drink alcohol drink coffee. I wanted a place where not drinking alcohol is justified.

There are days when all we get are coffee orders, even at night, and some people will stay for several hours with just one cup of coffee.

The customer turnover rate and the customer service are deadly bad (laughs), but for me, I just want people to spend their time as they please.

What is your favorite cocktail at Mansardo's? What is your favorite cocktail?

As a coffee shop, we have a large espresso machine, and we get a lot of orders for coffee cocktails such as espresso martinis and Irish coffees.

Currently, we are researching whether we can make more interesting cocktails using coffee. We have many cocktails in the prototype stage that we haven't put on the menu.

In any case, we are careful not to be too high context, as our clientele is young.

Also, some of our customers have no knowledge of cocktails, so we are conscious of offering flavors and aromas that can be enjoyed without knowing the context of the cocktail.

Recently, I have been making cocktails using seasonal ingredients such as dried persimmons and baked potatoes. I try to make cocktails that are not only delicious, but also low-alcohol, and that allow the guests to taste the ingredients.

Yamamoto's cocktail, the "Strawberry and Espresso Clover Club," is a gorgeous gin-based drink with rose liqueur and strawberry syrup. The bitterness of the espresso gives it a crisp aftertaste.

Thanks to people like Hiro (Hiroyasu Nakayama) of "Bar Nayuta" and Keisuke Nakaichi of "Bar Sensei," who are my mentors and good seniors, my interest in creative cocktails has grown.

When I was working part-time at the bar, I only knew classic cocktails, so this was very new to me.

In that sense, I am still in the process of exploring the cocktails that "Mansardo is known for.

I think that as you increase the number of moves you make, your own personality will gradually emerge, so I am experimenting with this and that as I increase my own drawers.

Is there anything you keep in mind in order to increase the number of your own drawers and create cocktails that are unique to you?

Well, what is it about ......? Let's do something this for input! I don't have anything like that.

If I had to say, I would say that I try to stay as stress-free as possible and stand in the store in good spirits. In other words, to stay in shape (laughs)?

But to be honest, I don't think there is anything more I can do.

How to make the cocktail in front of me taste good. How can I make the customers here enjoy themselves? I always want to deal with the customers who come to "Mansardo" with 100% physical and mental strength.

If I continue to face this place with all my strength, there may be something wonderful in the future ahead of me.