Watch out for them in '24! 
U30 bartenders 
- Part 2 -


Watch out for them in '24!
U30 bartenders
- Part 2 -

#Pick up

Kamiguchi Kento/上口健斗/夜香木、Miyanoue Tetta/宮乃上哲太/Mandarin Bar

This is a special New Year's issue introducing young bartenders of note to the Doripura editorial staff. In the second part, we introduce U30 bartenders from Kumamoto and Tokyo.

writer:Ryoko Kuraishi

Left photo: Mr. Kamiguchi of "Yakagaki. Right photo: "Yakagaki," a famous restaurant in Kumamoto. The second from the left in the top photo is the "Three Pillars," a cocktail created for last year's World Class. The theme is the "Kiso San-river" (Nagara, Kiso, and Ibi Rivers flowing through Gifu), and the base is "Singleton. The base is Singleton, which combines the agricultural products of the river basin: kuromoji upstream, kumquats and apples in the middle of the river, and oranges downstream.

The first person to appear in the second part is Kento Kamiguchi, 26, from "Yakagaki" in Kumamoto! From his hometown of Gifu to Kumamoto, how is the localism that Mr. Kamiguchi values applied to his cocktails?

How did you become a bartender?

I was born in Hida City, Gifu Prefecture. I was originally working at a restaurant in a hotel in Takayama City as a beverage manager, and my boss asked me if I wanted to try bartending. My boss asked me if I wanted to try bartending, and I moved to the bar.

I had always had a yearning to be a bartender, so I was very happy. When I started studying, I fell in love with the world of cocktails.

Serving customers at a bar is very special. While communicating with customers, I make cocktails in front of them and have them drink them. I could see the reactions of the customers up close. I found it very rewarding.

Just when I wanted to learn more, the hotel was closed due to the Corona earthquake. I decided to study bartending in my spare time, so I watched the "Diageo World Class" Japan competition on live streaming on YouTube.

This is the cocktail "New World" that I invented for "World Class" the year before last, in my first year at Yakohki. I wanted to create a cocktail that would reflect the rich bounty of the land I felt when I came to Kumamoto, and my connection with the farmers there. It is based on vodka infused with beet, a Mexican fermented pineapple drink called Tepache, Kumamoto's herbal cordial "Koisuru Ginger Ale," and lime-acid orange (orange juice adjusted to the same acidity level as lime).

Among them, I was riveted by the performance of one bartender. That person was the current boss, Mr. Shinya Kiba. I wanted to work under Mr. Kiba, who was a Japan Champion! So I went to Kumamoto to work for Mr. Kiba, who was a Japan Champion. ......

What kind of response do you feel at "Yakohki"?

I have been working here for two years now. As a bar that specializes in cocktails, it is a wonderful environment where I can seriously face cocktail making on a daily basis.

We have many customers from overseas and many bartenders that I know in Kiba, so I am able to make connections with bartenders in Japan and abroad, which is very stimulating.

What do you find attractive about cocktails? What is the point of cocktail making?

The same cocktail, with the same ingredients and recipe, can be completely different depending on the maker, and has as many flavors as there are bartenders. The attraction is that bartenders can freely express themselves with their own individuality.

Therefore, when serving a cocktail, I try to share my own stories and experiences related to that cocktail.

The same goes for the recipes for our signature cocktails. I try to express in my cocktails what I experienced in Kumamoto as a person born and raised in Hida, and how I felt during my experiences there.

For example, I pick up some ingredients that are related to me, such as herbs and beets grown in Kumamoto, or trees from the Hida forests.

Overseas customers, in particular, come to our store to enjoy the ingredients and flavors that are "unique to Kumamoto. We often use citrus fruits grown in Kumamoto prefecture because they are a specialty of Kumamoto. We also serve rice shochu-based cocktails because Kumamoto is a land where rice shochu is produced.

Mr. Kamiguchi was struck by the signature cocktail of "Night Fragrant Tree," which is also called "Night Fragrant Tree" (right). This cocktail reproduces the fragrance of night fragrant trees that blossom at night, and is made with Tanqueray No. 10 with accents of jasmine, apple, and ma gao.

What are your challenges and goals for 2024?

This year I would like to achieve results in competitions. My first goal is to win "World Class," which Kiba won. I practice hard after business hours, and although it is hard work, I feel a sense of fulfillment.

I am also interested in overseas bars because Kiba was in Singapore. Singapore, in particular, has many famous bars that are ranked among the best bars in Asia, so I would definitely like to visit bars there.

And someday I would like to work in a bar overseas. That is why I am studying English every day without fail. I don't want to have a difference in the way I serve foreign and Japanese customers because of language barriers.

I think this is more for daily sales than for the future. I would like to eliminate the language barrier so that I can welcome overseas customers with the utmost hospitality.

Yakoboku: 5-215-21 Minamitsuboicho, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto, Japan Instagram:@bar_ yakoboku_kumamoto.

Next, please enjoy this interview with Tetsuta Miyanoue (26) of Mandarin Bar in Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo!

First of all, could you tell us about your profile?

When I was in high school, I started working part-time in the customer service industry at a restaurant, and I began to vaguely think that I wanted to pursue this career in the future.

However, there are many different types of restaurant hospitality work. My grandfather, who lives nearby, is a strict man, and I felt I had to show him logic to convince him, so I researched the hospitality industry while still in high school.

I decided to become a hotelier, the highest level of service. The high school I happened to attend had information about a vocational school called Japan Hotel School, and I entered the school.

Left: Mr. Miyanoue of "Mandarin Bar" has been a bartender for seven years this year. He is a talented assistant head bartender at his age. Right photo: "Mandarin Bar" in "Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo.

I started working part-time at the Hilton Tokyo as soon as I entered the school, and was assigned to the bar and lounge.

I had worked at a dining bar in my hometown (Atsugi City) when I was in high school, so I was familiar with it, but this was the first time I was involved in a full-scale bar operation.

I welcomed customers, made them cocktails, listened to their feedback, and saw them off. I found the process of creating time with customers from scratch very rewarding, and I was convinced that studying bartending was something that would last a lifetime.

That is how I decided to pursue this career path.

As an intern in my second year of technical school, I was assigned to the Mandarin Bar in Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, and through that opportunity, I took the entrance exam and joined the company in 2017. I am now in my 7th year.

What is important to you when standing at the counter?

Things that are not essential to life, but that make life richer by being there. I believe that a bar is such an existence.

In order for people who come to the bar to have an extraordinary and enriching time, what I value is tradition and curiosity.

I have always been a curious person and have a tendency to explore things that interest me, but working at the Mandarin Bar in Nihonbashi, a town that has been around since the Edo period, has had a lot of influence on me in the area of tradition.

Do you utilize such elements in your cocktail making?

Yes, tradition and curiosity. The other day, I went to Tokushima to visit a traditional pottery making village called Otani-yaki and bought some vessels.

Sometimes I get inspiration from these things and come up with new cocktails.

When I think about it, everything in my life is a source of imagination. What we eat, what we see, what we hear.

So I keep my antennae up for everything, go out and find things that interest me, and write everything down in my notebook. I am a note-taker.

Of course, I am also stimulated by the environment in which I work. There are various restaurants in the hotel, and I have many opportunities to interact with the chefs and sommelier team.

For example, I think of cocktails that use spices, and when a customer requests a cocktail pairing, I ask the chef about the course content and improvise a pairing course.

This kind of environment is a privilege of a hotel bar. There are many different departments gathered here, and there are many subjects of interest. I feel that learning about Italian and French ...... cuisine broadens my scope as a bartender.

I was also inspired by the sommelier team here to become a certified sommelier.

Left: The "Hamamatsu Sour" was served from January to the end of April 2023 as the fourth cocktail in the "53 Stages of the Tokaido Cocktail Promotion" that began in March 2022. This gin-based sour cocktail expresses "Hamamatsu-juku," famous for its eels. It uses many of the region's specialties, including mandarin oranges, Hamamatsu-grown tea, and eel pie for garnish. Right photo: "Fugetsu," a cocktail served as part of the Suntory Whiskey "Hibiki" promotion in 2023.

What are your thoughts on the current bar scene?

People are moving again after the Corona disaster calmed down, events have resumed, competitions are back, collaborations and exchanges with people from other industries such as brewers, and I am experiencing firsthand the excitement of the bar scene.

I feel that the barriers between hotel bars and bars in town are gradually disappearing, and the gap between domestic and international bars is also thinning.

The Mandarin Bar has been actively organizing guest shifts, and last year we had a total of 10 guest shifts. This is where the exchange has been growing.

I show them around Tokyo before and after the guest shift, and I am stimulated by the new discoveries I make with them as we tour Tokyo together.

What are your future challenges?

As a bartender at the Mandarin Bar, and as a bartender in my own right, I will continue to improve every day.

At the same time, I would like to create an environment where I can pass on the opportunities I have been given to the next bartenders.

At the same time, I would like to think of tricks from multiple perspectives.

I mentioned earlier that collaborations with other industries are increasing and the barriers between Japan and overseas are disappearing, and I would like to be a bartender who can be involved in those areas as well.

Mandarin Bar Inside Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, 2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo