The Atlantic’s food blog takes a trip to Japan where—no real surprise here—some exceedingly masterful bartenders work their magic on a daily basis. Washington DC–based sommelier Derek M. Brown does a good job of capturing the magic of a master at work:

“My cocktails are not Eastern variants, but simple, well-crafted drinks that bear the mark of a technician. Sometimes [bartender Hidetsugu Ueno] even brings out a thermometer to check the temperature of a cocktail. His White Lady, a signature drink culled from the classics, is made without egg whites but has the glistening texture of a melting brook with tiny, broken shards of ice.”

As a West-goes-East-to-encounter-West story, Brown’s cocktail essay is an engaging read. And a bit intimidating, to boot:

“The bartenders at these legendary barrooms are known for their ability to carve an ice ball whose brilliance rivals 500-carat diamonds and shake a cocktail so hard that it registers as a seismic event.”

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