Turning Japanese

How this East Asian nation is changing the bartending profession.

Creator of Jinzu Gin, Dee Davies, tells us how Japan is shaping the future of bartending.

Everything changed in February 2013.

I came across the ‘Show Your Spirit’ competition to find the next big spirit brand and, for a while, all decent ideas eluded me until one day everything became clear.

The answer had been sitting right in front of me all along… and little did I know.

All I had to do was take inspiration from the culture which captured my heart and instilled my passion all these years for the bartending profession.

Here’s my story - let it inspire you to live out your own dream…

Japanese Inspiration

Japan is a beautiful country filled with stunning architecture, amazing people and, to top it off, it offers some of the world’s best gastronomy.

These wonderful characteristics have shaped all that Japan represents.

With this strong foundation how could its bar scene be anything but exceptional?

With unparalleled bar equipment, stylish techniques and exciting ingredients, this East Asian nation’s influences have enhanced our trade exponentially.

Back to Basics

When I started bartending, bar equipment at the venues I worked in, was basic. 90% of the time it was emblazoned with the logo of the drinks company which gifted them to me and my toolkit almost always consisted of a chunky spoon with a muddling disk on one end, a cheap cylindrical jigger and a glass-on-tin Boston shaker.

That was 7 years ago.

Now you can barely move for Japanese Koriko tins and double-ended triangular jiggers and I know that I’m slightly biased (as I love everything Japanese) but what a beautiful change it has made to the industry!

How many bar managers have sighed with relief realising there will be no more smashed Boston glasses in the ice well during service on a Saturday night? Or for you bartenders, who have smiled knowing they no longer have to nurse grazes on the inside of their fingers from a bar spoon made too sharp? I know I have…

Japanese Style

For me bartending with Japanese equipment feels a little like getting properly dressed up for a party - bow tie for the guys, high heels for the girls. It tends to command the respect you wish to gain from your peers and customers, and you find yourself bartending with a bit more style and sophistication.

With new age Japanese equipment came new techniques (or the rise of traditional ones that spread fast around our industry) and, ever since, more attention has been poured into every aspect of bartending leading to better results. Bartenders around the world are now paying more attention to how they work, pushing boundaries to learn skilful new arts, to further themselves and improve their level of bartending.

Consumers very rarely noticed these changes to begin with. However, after a while, they noticed the change in the quality of their drinks too. Comments were no longer about the ‘icebergs’ in their glass but about how much colder their drink was and how pleased they were that it no longer diluted while they mingled with their friends.

Japanese bartenders really do have it sussed out - happy customers make for happy bartenders. However, a blend of ‘East meets West’ bartending techniques could really make for the perfect partnership.

Show Your Spirit

Not only am I a fan of Japanese style and bar techniques, but I am also attached to the rich traditions and heritage of this nation.

So when it came to Diageo’s ‘Show Your Spirit’ Competition and the Jinzu™ Gin I created there, it could only be inspired by all these characteristics I love about Japan.

Although the country is moving forward, it consciously keeps ties with its past - a theme which runs through the core of my Jinzu Gin. And although Japan was my main inspiration, I could not forget my British roots so the finished product marries the two together - it’s a British classic (gin), with a Japanese twist.

Taste and See

Now you know where my inspiration to make Jinzu Gin has come from, you can explore the taste with these easy to make cocktails - why not bring something new to the table in your bar tonight…

Jinzu River

Method
  1. Shaken and poured into the Jinzu decanter,
  2. Top with cider,
  3. Garnish: Served with Baransu glasses filled with ice and garnished with raspberries.

(1.2 standard drinks*- 1.5 units per serve)

Asian 800

Method
  1. Shaken and double strained into a champagne flute,
  2. Tep with sparkling wine,
  3. Garnish: Cherry garnish

(1.1 standard drinks*- 1.5 units per serve)

No Touching

40ml Jinzu Gin
15ml Cherry liqueur
5ml Italian Amaro
5ml apple concentrate

Method
  1. Stirred over ice and served in a cocktail glass.
  2. Garnish: Lemon zest garnish

(1.9 standard drinks*- 2.2 units per serve)

(*One standard drink contains 8g of alcohol)

To keep a track of Dee’s whereabouts and the development of her ‘East-meets-West Gin’ follow her: @DeeADavies.

For more information on Jinzu Gin, read our Latest Releases feature or refer to the brand’s page under Drink Categories.