Japanese Bar Tools

By Brian Means

Published on February 27, 2014

Japanese bartending blows my mind. It's so artful that, as with oil painting, the equipment is paramount. Even the simplest drinks are painstakingly prepared. I start the way I learned from the Japanese masters: with the ice. Hand carving a perfect sphere with a trident ice pick (A), I knock off edges with the head and chisel with a single prong. I measure spirits with a sleek, two-ounce Japanese-style jigger (B); its precut lines allow me to measure half-ounce to two-ounce pours and everything in between. For smooth, efficient stirring, my Japanese bar spoon's (C) tight-coiled stem spins easily between my fingers. For shaken cocktails, I reach for weighted, leak-proof Koriko mixing tins (D), then pour the contents through a deep basket strainer (E)—its high sides can handle two drinks at once. But my favorite tool is the cut-crystal Yarai mixing glass (F), sturdy enough to keep in the freezer and so pretty that it catches customers' eyes. I like to pass those customers their drinks as a Japanese bartender would, with both hands; it's a gesture of appreciation—a reminder of who these exquisite tools are really made for.

Japanese bar tools, various prices at Cocktail Kingdom and Umami Mart

Brian Means is bar manager at the Fifth Floor Restaurant in San Francisco.

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