|The moga style starts to appear alongside traditional dress|
Part of this Western culture was the cocktail, and there are some great posters, matchbooks and other ephemera from the time featuring iconic cocktail glasses worked into very Japanese design. According to modern bartending legend Kazuo Uyeda, the cocktail really took off after the Second World War, at which time “you could find a cocktail shaker in every home and a Martini glass in every hand”. But the Japanese art of bartending developed along its own lines, with the culture’s typical respect for procedure and interest in the subtle stimulation of all the senses.
|This kimono has the cover of a piece of |
modern sheet music printed on it
Uyeda also invented a series of “Coral” cocktails, starting with the “City Coral” and continuing with others the names of which all begin with C. For these he devised a kind of salt rim where he dips the rim of a Champagne flute first into a liqueur—chosen for its colour—then into a deep tray of salt. This creates a line of colourful salt crust part way down the glass that does indeed resemble coral.
Uyeda is probably most famous as the inventor of the “hard shake”. He feels that all cocktails using fruit juice need to be shaken hard to blend the juice properly and to get air bubbles into the mix. His hard shake combines rapid back-and-forth shaking with rolling and twisting motions—in nautical terms, roll, pitch and yaw, all at the same time. I think the idea is to get as much chilling as quickly as possible to reduce unnecessary dilution; he also prints a chart of his experiments with different sizes, shapes and numbers of pieces of ice, both with shaking and stirring, to see what produces the best chill with least dilution. (For the record he believes a combination of small and large pieces works best.) He also believes in “washing” the ice with a plain water pre-shake, to wear off the corners of the ice pieces, which would otherwise be the parts most prone to melting and diluting the drink.
Whereas most bartenders use tin-and-glass Boston shakers, Uyeda prefers the Manhattan style shaker with built-in strainer. In a bizarrely unforthcoming interview for Imbibe, when asked why he prefers this kind of shaker, he replies only that, “If you realize how important shaking and mixing are, you will naturally notice that only the three-piece shaker could work out.” Uyeda also doesn’t use speed-pourers, and offers advice in his book on the best way to remove the cap from a bottle.
Despite the visually unusual cocktails he has invented, Uyeda, when asked by Imbibe, says that the cocktails he considers himself most associated with are the Martini and the Gimlet. The latter is a classic combination of gin and Rose’s lime cordial, but Uyeda instead uses lime juice and sugar syrup. His reasoning is: why use preserved lime juice when you can use fresh? But you could argue that this misses the point of the cocktail, in which the distinctive taste of the cordial plays a role.
It’s refreshing to encounter someone like Uyeda who develops all his ideas from first principles, rather than just carrying on tradition and conventional wisdom. (He says he doesn’t go to other people’s bars; he also announces that no one but him can do the hard shake properly, though this must presumably be a logical assumption rather than the result of watching other people try.) I quickly gave up trying to master the hard shake, but I have found myself pouring cocktails in the same way to shake out the ice shards. I’ve always rather liked using Manhattan shakers anyway, and I personally feel that a bit of dilution can be a good thing in a cocktail.