「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.

YOU HAVE JUST WITNESSED PERFECTION

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.”

TOUGH LOVE

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.

4 Comments

  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.

    tsirrus
  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).

    Incognito
    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.

      Anonymous
  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.

    RenaSayers

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