Bartender, the Memory in the Glass

Bar Eden Hall is a place of unwinding, where the cares of your busy, every day life just slip away.  The mellow atmosphere and attentive bartender are there to soothe your agitation.  What will be your spirit of choice? Will you leave the decision up to the bartender and drink a possible Glass of the Gods?

The White Russian
I still remember my first alcoholic beverage, experienced when I was under the legal drinking age and grieving for my recently deceased grandfather.  My high school friends took it upon themselves to cheer me up with a spur-of-the-moment party.  I was too young to know what sort of alcohol would interest me, so I let my more party-savvy friends choose.

The White Russian is an elaboration on the Black Russian, which just includes vodka and a coffee liqueur.  To make it “white,” cream is added.  This was my first cocktail and one which will always remind me of both my grandfather  and the friends who wanted to cheer me up.  This is the closest experience to a Glass of the Gods that I’ve had, where the drink and its maker’s intentions to heal were conveyed so clearly.  The bitterness of the coffee flavor mixed with a creamy sweetness perfectly captured my feelings at the moment.  If I didn’t hate cigarettes, I probably would have had one in memory of my grandfather who loved them so much.  To this day, I have avoided the White Russian unless it was the anniversary of my grandfather’s death since the emotions attached to the drink are so strong.

Comparing the Anime and J-drama
The anime Bartender follows a slow, episodic plot format, where one or two cocktails are featured along with the peoples whose hearts need consoling.  Bar Eden Hall is headed by established genius Sasakura Ryu, a surprisingly young man with perfect skills and an astounding knowledge of liquor.  Those who frequent Eden Hall can always depend on Sasakura’s ability to see right through them and use his skills to heal instead of harm.  This is an important distinction to make, as alcohol has the capacity to be both a medicine and a poison depending on the amount and application.  For the most part, the anime romanticizes alcohol, going into the background and meaning of various drinks, and never going into excessive consumption.  There are a few scenes where the partaker shows an ugly side, but Sasakura is usually able to assuage the ill temper.

The quicker-paced live action actually takes place before the events of the anime, when Sasakura was still a struggling young man trying to figure out how to be a “true” bartender.  Having made a grave mistake at the seeming peak of his career in Europe, he returns to Japan confused and sick at heart.  While the anime focuses mainly on the customers, the live action centers each drama around Sasakura, tying everything into his past and present.  The Glass of the Gods is a blurry dream that he has yet to achieve, as his overconfidence in his talents and creativity prevents him from seeing to the hearts of his customers.  With each new encounter and his growing relationship with the female lead, Kurushima Miwa, he starts to realize the importance of the bartender.

The True Bartender
Broken down into two parts, “bar” refers to a perch, while “tender” describes gentleness–a definition presented in the very first episode of the anime.  Thus, this “gentle perch” is a place of recuperation where the bartender likewise “tends” to or cares for its tired occupants.  It is the bartender’s job to assure that the customer leaves with a rested soul and positive memories.  The Glass of the Gods, then, is the ultimate drink, “the final glass that can help rescue a broken soul hurt by loneliness, wandering about and heading nowhere” (Bartender, J-drama).  If the bartender is too focused on the drink itself, or is distracted by his or her own personal problems, the all-too quiet voice of the customer’s heart will be ignored.

Final Thoughts
I have yet to visit a classy bar like the anime’s Eden Hall or the drama’s Lapin, but thanks to these shows, I look forward to the day that I do.  I want to sit at a bar whose countertop shines and whose seats are worn down by the numerous occupants that have rested there for the night.  Instead of pounding down beer after beer college-style, I’d like to savor a cocktail or two in a moment of quiet contemplation.

If you’re interested in making your own White Russian, pour 2 oz. vodka with 1 oz. coffee liqueur over ice into an old-fashioned glass, then tip in 1/2 to 1 oz. milk or cream over the top and stir.  Due to the high sugar content of this cocktail, drinking too much will result in a monstrous hangover the next morning.  The milk can also easily sicken those with sensitive stomachs.

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25 thoughts on “Bartender, the Memory in the Glass

  1. I love the little history lesson behind the drinks. I was really going “Ah, interesting” knowing the story of the Margarita and the Bloody Mary. XD
    I want a bar to reserve me a sit too but all I ever drink is beer and none of the classy stuff. XD

    • The history lessons are really great, aren’t they? The Bloody Mary is actually my favorite cocktail, regardless of its bloody background :p

      I’m starting to get used to the taste of beer, but cocktails are still my preference. There are plenty of hard liquor that I wouldn’t necessarily call “classy”, like bourbon and gin & tonic. Give them a try!

      • oh, i haven’t really tried gin and tonic but it still sounds classy. i’ve tried gin and yeah, i doesn’t go down well. XD
        vodka in our place is expensive. you pay by the shots and i can get 3 cases of beer for nine shots of vodka here.

      • That’s so strange that vodka has to be purchased by the shot…even at the regular liquor store? I usually get a big bottle of it that lasts me a pretty long time.

  2. I haven’t heard of this anime or the live action film, but I am curious to watch it after reading your post. So much anime on my viewing list! I do want to add how I enjoy reading your posts where you have been tying in the anime with food/drink recipes. A nice touch I think. :)

    • Well, it’s actually a full live action series, though I’d be interested if a movie was every made. This anime was actually recommended to me by another blogger, Foxy Lady Ayame, who was surprised that I hadn’t seen it yet. I’m glad you like these food/drink centered posts, though this anime being on that topic was a bit of a happy accident ^^

  3. It was kind of neat in the anime when they went over the history behind the daiquiri’s role in the life of Ernest Hemingway. Definitely one of the more memorable moments because it drew some connections that my teacher talked about in 11th grade English.

    Also the soundtrack… what a lovely OST whenever you’re down and need a bit of rejuvenation with that dab of classiness!

    • I really like both the OP and ED from Natural High, though I didn’t really pay attention to the music during the actual episodes. Now I need to go back and check it out (or just find the OST)!

      The Hemingway story was one of my favorite episodes, not only because it shared a bit of backstory of an author I highly respect, but also because I love how the daiquiri received commendation beyond its appearance as a couple’s drink.

      • Marina, get the OST like now! It’s sooooo natsukashii~~ There’s no piece of the whole OST I like less. It’s a great choice to put on the mp3/cd and listen to after a hard day.

        And you know how much I love the anime and you doing it justice! We should spread the love more! Now I must get to the drama, which I haven’t tried, since I wasn’t aware of its existence before talking to you. From what you are describing I think that the anime and drama together adapt a big part of the manga. The manga is still being scanlated, but do catch up with it.

        I’m curious, did you try to make any of the cocktails?

      • I’ve found the OST, now I just need more seeders! ^^ I look forward to listening to it.

        I see you’ve started the drama and found it more…”drama”tic :p I thought I hinted at that a bit in my description, but it’s hard to not be surprised by it when watching it after the anime, isn’t it?

        The only cocktail I’ve made from the actual show, which I did before seeing the anime, is the Bloody Mary (from the drama, and also my fav). I’ve had quite a few of the drinks at restaurants and bars, but haven’t tried making myself. Liquor is so expensive for a poor college kid like me!

      • The reason I didn’t catch your hint was because of me having read the manga, I think. When you talked about each episode being centered around Sasakura, i didn’t quite expect this kind of depiction, because there are this kind of chapters in the manga, too. I’m about to start ep3, but although I’ll watch it through the end out of curiosity, I don’t think I’ll be able to love it as much as the anime. I guess they decided to adapt it for a TV show having in mind the cliches that the audience of j-dramas expect (?). Choosing the right actors would make me feel perhaps better, yet I can’t see the characters I knew neither in the looks department nor character-wise :/

      • Haven’t finished it yet. I do other things in the meantime, and I’m a bit random, trying to read and watch many different stuff :/ I’m still at the beginning (ep3). I’ll let you know when I finish it.

  4. It’s interesting seeing alcohol in a positive light. I’ll add the anime to my plan to watch list just for the history behind the drinks. I think I’ll find the stories interesting and sympathize, but be annoyed that alcohol is what makes it better.

    I have been scarred by alcohol and drugs so badly that I irrationally fear addiction. I won’t even take asprin. Yet I have no problem with people who do. I even suggest they take something when sick. So It’ll be fun to see how it hits me.

    • There are some people who are more easily affected by liquor than others, so it’s good to check your family history for any cases of alcoholism or depression. And this might be strange, but I view what you call “irrational…fear [of] addiction” almost as dangerous as an actual addiction. As I talked about in the post, alcohol has the ability to be both a poison and a medicine.

      Just be cautious when trying drinks out, and try and always drink with friends or family so they can look out for you :)

  5. I know it’s unhealthy and that’s why I admitted it’s irrational. I mean I realise medicine is good, but has drawbacks. I know the same can be true of alcohol as well. However when I say scarred by alcohol and drugs I mean it. I don’t have to check my family history. I see addiction firsthand every day from every family member. I’ve seen people overdose on drugs. I’ve found people who committed suicide more than once im my life. That’s not even mentioning the worst I’ve experienced due to alcohol. I can know they aren’t bad all I want. The fear of losing myself like all those around me is too much. I know as cautious as I am the odds are very low, but the risk is very scary.

    So this isn’t all bad I have gotten my mom to stop drinking. I’m real proud of her. Still working on pain pills, but she is in pain so it’s tricky.

    Sorry for this comment if it bothers you. I told you I’m very open and blogged about my life.

    • Your comment doesn’t bother me at all :) I’m flattered you feel comfortable enough to share your experiences with me here :) Sorry about the late reply; things have been busy!

  6. Since I almost never drink the Bartender anime taught me a lot about alcohol. It’s also true that series doesn’t show the “dark side” of alcohol at all. I also found it to be a bit on the snobby side (especially Sasakura’s know-it-all attitude). I didn’t know about the drama though, and it seems to handle things differently. I might give it a shot.

    • Yes, I had fun going out recently and asking for drinks that I saw made on Bartender. Sadly, we don’t really have classy bars where I live except maybe a couple that are actually restaurants with a full bar. I didn’t get the snobby vibe from the show, since I more interpreted Saskura’s attitude as eager to educate the customer.

  7. I haven’t watch this yet, but I think I might even learn how to mix a free drinks after I do so :D The history behind the drinks are incredibly interesting too.

    • Mixing drinks on your own is fun, but expensive! Careful which ones you decide to drink since you’ll most likely be stuck with the bottles for a while as long as you’re not a lush :p

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