Sponsored by Skyy Vodka
He cuts three, four tomatoes in quarters, quick and clean, and puts them carefully in a tumbler, crushing them to juice. This is all happening in his small bar in a quiet side street in busy, too often rather bumptious Roppongi in Tokyo, of course without leaving any red stain on the bright, white jacket of the bartender. After seven years in New York, he opened this understated, but sophisticated place in his home town. From the bar carved from Mizunara wood to the glasses hand-blown by a local artist, everything here is carrying its own story, and the most interesting ones are told by the ingredients. Guests enjoy a cocktail menu of five drinks, all specially created from seasonal and locally grown produce – and incredibly delicious. Admittedly, I was a bit afraid of the alcohol about to be consumed, but this isn’t what this is about. The booze is part of a bigger idea, that tells you loads about the country and its people.
While many parts of the current food scene can’t do without seasonal and sustainable concepts, drinks are too often generously left-out. Only few ask if the strawberries for their daiquiri were locally sourced, or where the tomatoes for their Bloody Mary came from. The focus is on the effect. But good bartenders are looking for more than that, they’re closer to the chefs in the kitchen than to the bouncers at the door. Seriously, who can buy fresh blackberries in February without considering the ecological nonsense of this purchase?
Apart from a good conscience, a more considerate approach creates more naturalistic cocktails, that convince without shaking artistry or eccentrically carved ice cube works. Drinks, that rely on the strength and essence of the single ingredients. The combination of high quality alcohol and regional produce is obviously limiting, but implies opportunity – the challenge to find solutions that generations before us already worked out, or to head for new directions, no one ever thought of. Which is not only working in the already very mindful Japan, but also in local bars. I see herbal essences from Brandenburg, homemade fermentations, and of course, blackberries from the Uckermark. In this case, why not combine them with a vodka from California.
Not only because ingredients are on the height of their taste when harvested at the right time and not transported for thousands of kilometers, but to support local economy: the many small producers and farmers, who work hard to get the best from the Brandenburg soil, deserve our support in their struggle to create a different kind of industry. One that’s not only striving for individual hedonism, but thinking of consequences. This isn’t a trend, it’s an urgently needed turnaround towards more sustainability and responsibility, so future generations can enjoy Brandenburg as much as we do.
Wanna try it now? How about this:
The Upstate Bramble
5cl Skyy Vodka
1cl Licor 43
1cl Creme de Mûre
3cl fresh lime juice
4 fresh blackberries
Combine all ingredients except the Creme de Mûre in a large wine glass with crushed ice. Add even more crushed ice and float the Creme de Mûre on top. Finalize with blackberries and lime zest.
Even more delicious drinks? Try ORA in Kreuzberg.