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    Atsushi Suzuki: I considered becoming a suchi chef, but eventually decided bartenders are cooler

    The Japanese bartender Atsushi Suzuki is the winner of the prestigious Chivas Masters 2017.He worked in Shanghai for a considerable amount of time, and only very recently returned to his native Tokyo. Here, he is the bar manager at the SG club, a new bar from the super-popular Shanghai institutions Speak Low and Sober Company.

    My goal is to not let my guests get too drunk to truly appreciate the taste of the drinks. It’s not control; I just want everyone to have a truly good time.

    When I work, I’m always absolutely relaxed. Therefore, my guests relax, too. Of course, sometimes I get nervous, but I keep myself under control and know how to make myself relax.

    I listen carefully to what my guests say at the bar. It helps me understand what they want and what I can give them.

    The hardest thing in my work is when I have to drink with my guests, but I have a hangover.

    A bartender is a rock star behind the bar. I always wanted to have a cool job. I thought about becoming a sushi chef, but in the end, I decided that bartenders are cooler.

    Today, a bartender isn’t just a guy who pours drinks for his guests and drinks with them. I want everyone to understand that. Everyone respects chefs; I want everyone to treat our profession the same way, and for it to be truly prestigious.

    My style is doing what nobody has ever done before me.

    Of course, sometimes I drink too much while I’m working. “Sometimes” means roughly once a month, although I try not to. Then I just ask someone on the team to take my place.

    When I hire a bartender, I never ask them to make a cocktail, and for me, their experience or skills aren’t important to me. We work as a team, so the most important thing is that I can rely on them.

    I try not to behave like a boss – otherwise, my colleagues won’t be honest with me. That’s the most important thing. On our team, everyone is equal – we just have different tasks.

    Photo: Shinishi Yokoyama

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