Patron Pick Spring 2024: Bartender: Kami no Glass – 06

Yes, Bartender won the Patron Pick vote for Spring (for those who aren’t supporters and don’t see my twitter, the other choices were Koi to Otome, Astro Note, The Fable, and Sentai Daishikaku). To be honest that came as a real surprise to me – I kind of expected Kamikakushi to win, but Bartender certainly wasn’t my bet. I think there’s a possibility I’d have covered it anyway – it was close – and of course I could still keep one or more of those other candidates. But Bartender is in the rotation for sure, thanks to the voters.

Back to the horses for courses thing, which is a major theme for this season around here. I’ve pretty well decided that Kai to Otome doesn’t fit me (I’ll go deeper into that in its own post). Bartender, OTOH, does. It just checks a lot of my boxes, and in going all-on on whisky and cigars in the last two episodes it pretty much gilded the lily. The two cocktails in focus this week were the Bamboo (which I’ve never tried, actually) and the Alexander (which I quite enjoy, though it’s undeniably a sweet one).

Like most cocktails, thee Bamboo’s creation is credited to multiple inventors.  There is a credible argument that it’s “Japanese” as Sasakura says, but that origin story attributes it to a famous German bartender (Louis Eppinger) brought in to work at a Yokohama hotel bar by a bunch of American navy men. And even if that is true, he actually started serving it earlier while he worked in San Francisco. It consists mainly of dry sherry, vermouth, and bitters, and I suppose that would make it a somewhat delicate concoction.

Regarding the incident between the neonatal physician and the mid-boss salaryman, in my view he was the only one who should have been apologizing. I’m sensitive to cigarette smoke (as in, I hate it). But if I go into a place I know allows it, I don’t complain when someone is smoking. Fine cigars are a part of the bar experience, certainly in Japan. She had every right to smoke one in a bar that allows them (not all do) – or indeed, to hold one and not smoke it, though they do go out in about two minutes when you do that. He was a totally A-hole about the whole thing and if he’d done to me what he did to her, he’d have been on the floor pretty fast.

Full disclosure: I love good cigars. Habanos prices have exploded so much that I almost never smoke them specifically any more, but there’s nothing more conducive to good conversation and a relaxing evening than a really excellent cigar (and some Romeo y Julietas certainly are). Bars certainly will store cigars for customers, so that part was realistic enough – it’s not like most people smoke them in their apartments anyway. A little hamaki romance develops, though with the doc off to Sendai it seems like it’s going to be a brief one.

The B-plot involves Yukari (the sidekick) and the Brandy Alexander. She announces that she’s getting married but it’s pretty obvious this is a flighty girl, so grain of salt. The Alexander does have that nice romantic origin story, though the bit from Days of Wine and Roses was pretty heavy for a mixologist to share. No surprise Yukari bailed on getting married – certainly she shouldn’t for the reason she was considering it. Sasakura has a line for everything, and it strikes me that you know, nobody in the world actually talks like he does. But in spite of its resolutely realistic settings, Bartender is actually not a series that’s trying to be realistic I don’t think. It’s kind of a modern urban folk tale as much as anything.

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