「完璧な味」 (Kanpeki na Aji)
The Perfect Taste

The good news is that the latest episode Bartender places center stage on a drink that’s easier to come by; the Manhattan. But when such a drink is made by the Kuzuhara, a reputable bartender known as Mr. Perfect, Sasakura is unprepared to meet the perfect match.


Mr. Perfect wound up being a very interesting character since he acts as the antithesis to Sasakura. As Sasakura investigates each of his customers to customize their drink order on their behalf, Mr. Perfect is intent on being meticulous about what goes into a cocktail. It makes him a formidable adversary when his way doesn’t sacrifice the perfect drink to please guests.

You’re made to assume that Sasakura’s observational skills would impress Mr. Perfect, but adding Wasanbon sugar only agitates him, making it another instance where Sasakura’s intuition causes him to make a poor judgment call. Mr. Perfect is already quick to label him a flash-in-the-pan gimmick bartender for trying to zazz up a Gin Fizz instead of proving that he could make a plain drink well.

This is made even worse when Miwa’s grandfather requests for Mr. Perfect and Sasakura to make the same drink for him, a Manhattan. Sasakura serves a warmer cocktail to match Miwa’s body temperature, but after a second sip, the amazing sensation she felt from the first one went missing. Mr.Perfect’s advice hits a raw nerve for Sasakura because it’s a direct challenge to his intuition as a bartender; “If you start trying to please customers rather than craft the perfect cocktail, it will be the beginning of your decline as a bartender.”


Sasakura might be okay right now, but not sticking by the book can cause you to get lost in making something that’s more crowd-pleasing than high quality. People can eventually notice the difference between a decent drink and the best drink they’ve ever had, especially if other bartenders who have a meticulous eye when serving a drink at its highest quality could make a cocktail that isn’t just a fond yet distant memory.

Sasakura might’ve stormed out, but Mr. Perfect still sees potential in a bartender like him if he receives a challenge to his worldview right now rather than at the wrong time. In a way, it’s the same challenge that Sasakura gives to Kawakami; If you don’t let mistakes be your teacher, they will keep you away from the craft you supposedly love.

With Kawakami, she’s stumped by the method of making a B&B (Brandy & Benedictine) to the point of nearly quitting, but Sasakura’s advice to her mirrors much of Mr. Perfect’s sentiment where your job as a bartender is to learn and pay better care next time instead of trying to wing it. I’m curious to see the next time Sasakura comes across Kawakami since she sees this as a challenge and might push Sasakura to use this as a learning lesson for the next time he has to show his face to Mr. Perfect.


  1. I like that Sasakura isn’t the be-all-end-all of bartenders and that he has his own challenges.

    Really love these edutainment-type series, especially since this one sticks to the real labels.

  2. Ah, Ryuuichi “Mr. Perfect” Kuzuhara… The Iceman to Ryuu’s Maverick. (With Kawakami as the Rooster to Ryuu’s Maverick.)

    Though the good thing about Ryuuichi’s criticism of Ryuu’s customer-focused bartending style is that he raises a valid point of not forgetting the quality of the cocktails served, proven by years of experience (and the awards he got). Hell, if anyone can make an excellent cocktail out of my trusty Vat 69 (an admittedly YMMV blended Scotch whisky among enthusiasts and casual drinkers), Mr. Perfect might be the guy. That’s not to say that Ryuu is a complete novice, but Mr. Perfect is a bartending veteran at this point.

    It’s also like comparing the exact same dish made by a renowned chef and a home-cooked version. Sure, the chef-made dish might take you to new gastronomic heights (Mr. Perfect’s cocktails), but there’s a sense of comfort in a home-cooked dish (Ryuu’s cocktails). But I feel that maintaining a high-quality cocktail and keeping an empathic eye + ear for your customer shouldn’t be mutually exclusive, so I hope that Ryuu still learns something from his bartending “duel” with Mr. Perfect and helps him grow.

    On a different note, I haven’t really gotten into high-end brandies (I’ve only tried Fundador, Alhambra, Alfonso, Romulo, and possibly Emperador–if you haven’t heard of those brands, I don’t blame ya), though I know my old man used to drink cognac back in the day (Camus and Otard).

    1. What a coincidence. You mentioned Vat 69. If you happen to read the manga, the last chapter of the series ended on that whiskey. It’s definitely worth a read if you want to check it out.

      It’s also worth noting that the criticism might be due to different mindsets between the two, considering the era when they started.

      1. Welp, was browsing the comments on previous episodes since it’s been a while since any new posts about the anime (found myself sympathizing with Chen’s heartbreaks), and only saw this now.

        So I read Chapter 166 despite the potential for missing context and spoilers (though I did start to understand Kuzuhara’s mindset). Anyway, the chapter lovingly portrayed the old-school Vat 69 bottle shaped like a pot still*, all while Ryuu explains its history being labelled as “Miscellaneous Liquor” in Japan.

        I actually sought out Vat 69 thanks to re-watching Band of Brothers, as I wanted to find out why Captain Lewis Nixon loved that brand of Scotch. Got a couple of bottles gifted as birthday and Christmas presents. And with what I learned about whisk(e)y tasting thanks to falling into the Whisk(e)yTuber rabbit hole: I loved the Vat’s fruity aroma on the nose, hints of smokiness/peatiness and spice/sweetness on the palate, and the warm finish not lingering longer than necessary. Plus it’s a cheap, yet decent whisky. (YMMV, of course.)

        Though I understand that the current Vat 69 blend might be different from the blend drank by Capt. Nixon back in his day. Or the pre-1962 blend that Ryuu managed to find for Kuzuhara. Anyway, pretty enjoyable and heartwarming read, that chapter.

        (*Note: Nowadays, the Vat comes in 750ml green glass wine bottles similar to J&B Rare. At least it no longer comes in plastic bottles, which were definitely a downgrade and made the whisky taste more like gasoline, according to what I read on the Band of Brothers and whisk[e]y subreddits.)

        1. IIRC, in one of the behind the scenes video for Band of Brothers, Captain Nixon only drank it because it was cheap and plentiful. It wasn’t that he liked it, but he was an alcoholic.

          1. Yeah, would have been comparatively difficult to get a shipment of Johnnie Walker Black Label to the front. Or even JW Red Label–still considered good at the time and was also the drink of choice of Sir Winston Churchill (with water added).

            Guess Vat 69 being plentiful contributed to it being a popular Scotch whisky in post-Prohibition America, and why Capt. Nixon had it as his daily drinker. Though I can’t talk about his alcoholism without mentioning the divorce letter he got in the middle of the war. (“It’s MY DOG! She’s taking MY DOG!”)

            I appreciate the history behind the brand though (including its history in Japan).

  3. How is it that Miwa is already developing feelings for Ryuu? It’s only been three episodes. It’s way too early to ship Miwa and Ryuu.

    Also, I like that Ryuu’s inexperience early in this series. Ryuu will be a powerhouse of a bartender later in the story.


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