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Bartender: Kami no Glass – 04

As I’ve noted ad nauseam, this is the season of the bubble. Seems like almost half the series I’ve been covering are in it. Bartender is one of the shows on the Patron Pick ballot, though I haven’t ruled out the possibility of covering it anyway. I quite enjoy it but it doesn’t seem to be a series that catalyzes a whole lot of discussion (and that is a factor). I get that, but it’s also a series that’s kind of doing its own thing. I mean, I certainly don’t see any overlap with this premise and much else I’ve watched over the past few years.

I must confess the geeky side of all this really appeals to me. Under the microscope this week is the martini, probably the most eponymous and – historically at least – popular of all cocktails. Today the trendy zygotes put all sorts of loopy spins on it (the espresso martini probably being the most popular). Historically, though, a martini meant one thing and one thing only – gin and vermouth, stirred with ice. What brands and proportions were the variables to be tweaked (and if you were really a radical, what you plopped inside as a garnish).

Personally (and it should be no surprise given my already stated distaste for gin), I prefer a vodka martini. A simple, elegant cocktail that really tests the skills of the bartender. If the gin fizz is a good barometer because it requires all the main skills of mixology, the martini is because it tests technique – and because all the character in the drink comes from the bartender, thanks to the simplicity of the recipe. I’ve never heard that “no face” thing, but it’s easy to understand exactly what it means.

I was a little worried the vodka martini was going to get stiffed here, but it got equal (well, almost) time once the episode moved to Roppongi. it should be noted that when one wants a vodka martini they should order just that – a “vodka martini”. When you just say “martini” that should be a gin martini, a “true” martini in that sense. That’s why I was surprised  when the bartender at Hell’s Arms in Roppongi made a vodka martini unprompted. But vodka martinis has grown increasingly popular over the decades (a trend kick-started by James Bond’s “shaken, not stirred” drink of choice) to the point where I suppose in certain trendy haunts, the barkeep might default to that.

Oh, there is a storyline going on here too. A couple, in fact. The old man is trying to recruit a famous Japanese French chef, “Monsieur Yamanouchi“. But he refuses to consider coming home unless he can use 100% French ingredients – including the water for boiling the (French) vegetables. Kirishima is assigned to win him over, and nudged to head to Eden Hall for inspiration. He winds up begging Sasakura-san to help him out, and the latter winds up testing the chef’s palate with a carafe of aged mirin. This is a bit of a stretch, to be honest, but it’s fine as part of the superstructure holding the episode together.

We also have Kawasaki Kyouko (the redheaded bartender from last week), coming by for inspiration after her martini (she decided not to quit) was deemed to have no face. She gets quite an education here, which culminates in the aforementioned field trip on the Hibiya Line to Roppongi, This is the much more interesting plot to me, as it really gets into the art and science of mixology. There are no shortcuts – this is the lesson Sasakura is trying to teach Kawasai-san. And the martini is the perfect cocktail to do it, because there’s nothing to hide behind. You just have to figure out how to give it a face (which some mediocre bartenders never manage to do).

The post Bartender: Kami no Glass – 04 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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