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Kudos for the Senior Bartender at Tokyo’s Peter: The Bar

July 01, 2015
Bombay Sapphire "World’s Most Imaginative Bartender"
The Peninsula Hotels could not be more proud of Mitsuhiro Nakamura, the Senior Bartender at Peter: The Bar in Tokyo. At the Japan finals of the Bombay Sapphire "World’s Most Imaginative Bartender" competition held in March, Nakamura took the grand prize, winning the national title for Most Imaginative Bartender and securing himself a coveted place in the worldwide competition held in Europe in late May and early June. Representing Japan, Nakamura competed with seven other finalists from Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States for the 2015 global title.

The competition is a hugely anticipated event among the planet’s most ambitious mixologists. Past winners have hailed from Canada, Italy and France. This year, Sigrid Ehm of Austria, the first female winner in the contest’s four-year history, took the world title.

The event’s challenge is deceivingly simple: elevate the classic gin and tonic to something sublime using modern, experimental techniques and with ingredients, flavours and expressions that enhance some or all of the ten botanicals found in Bombay Sapphire. The task demands precision, knowledge and passion for the craft, but also an extra measure of on-the-spot ingenuity. During the six-day contest, competitors first take in the sights, sounds, colours and tastes of destinations where some of the gin’s vapour-infused aromatics are sourced, and then reflect those inspirations in their presentations. This year the competition kicked off in Madrid, traveled to lemon groves in Alicante and bitter almond orchards in the Spanish countryside of Murcia, and moved on to London before concluding at the company’s recently opened Laverstoke Mill distillery in Hampshire, England.
With his expertise in sado, Japan’s traditional tea ceremony, and professional experience both as a wedding planner and musician, Nakamura went into the national finals confident that his natural curiosity and personal drive to hone his skills would serve him well. “The philosophy of sado,” he says, “is to consider the person you are serving. There is always room to improve your posture, the beauty of your performance, and to deepen your knowledge.” That mind-set culminated in Nakamura’s winning cocktail, Perfect Eden – a fragrant blend of his own home-made cypress bitters, aloe liqueur infused with yuzu peel and ginger root, fresh lemon juice and parfait d’amour. Creating another drink on the first full day of the global competition, Nakamura donned a lab coat and wowed the judges with his humorous presentation complete with test tubes, beakers and a prescription for them to take his light and playful tonic of clover syrup and rosemary bitters three times a day. Reporting live at the scene on another day, the publishing duo The Cocktail Lovers tweeted, “Loving the aroma of the roasted almonds, flowers and lemon peel mash-up at the base of Hiro’s cocktail.”
Like Nakamura’s own creative approach, Peter: The Bar shakes things up for the trendy crowds of Tokyo with its modern take on Japanese nature, welcoming them with polished-chrome trees and pod-shaped seats high above the vibrant lights of Ginza. Upon returning from his adventures with fellow mixologists at the cutting edge, Nakamura says the experience has only intensified his desire to further his own unique style of bartending. “A cocktail made well is the perfect embodiment of personalised service – and of personal expression. Like the tea ceremony, one’s study of the art just goes deeper and deeper.” There’s no doubt Japan’s Most Imaginative Bartender will keep delighting guests with the power of imagination that’s at the heart of every great cocktail.