【CA人物專訪#5 ：調酒界金像獎大師－Masahiko Endo】 Catch-up with World Champion Bartender － Masahiko Endo
先說說Endo-san的成就 | Endo's Achievement： －世界冠軍調酒師 World Champion Bartender －三界日本總冠軍調酒師 3 times National Champion Bartender －TEDx Hong Kong 講者 Speaker －Mizunara: The Library 總調酒師 Bartender-in-Chief ------------------------------------------------------ 問：你幾歲開始學會調製人生中的第一杯雞尾酒？
Q: When and where did you learn to make the first cocktail in life?
Right. After I was graduated from the university, I found my first job as a bartender in restaurant at my hometown while I was 22 years old. It's in Fukuora, the southern part of Japan. Not a big city though. In terms of population, there is around one and half million people or a bit more now. For the restaurant, it is a jazz restaurant bar called Blue Note with headquarters in New York but now it is already closed down. So I have been working as a bartender since then so it has been around twenty three years.
Despite the long time, there's still so many things I have to learn right now. The more I work the deeper I realise I have so much that I did not know. For example, there are new cocktail mixology methods with brand-new ingredients evolving from time to time in the industry.
說實話，我仍然不覺得自己有過甚麼偉大的成就。相反，我一直還處於學習的路途上。但當有朋友問我如何從第一天開始裝備自己成為總調酒師，我認為關鍵在於 (1) 努力學習、(2) 保持好奇心和 (3) 永不滿足於現狀。
Q: How did you managed to reach the position of a Bartender-in-chief?
To be honest, after years, I still do not think I have achieved something great. Instead, I'm still on the way to learn. Still, there are some friends asking how I made it to this position since day one. I would say the keypoints are: Study Hard. Keep the curiosity. Never get satisfied with the status quo.
And it is always important to be a professional bartender. By professional I mean it is to enjoy the adventure of your work life, either as a bartender or any other position, and keep digging in and discovering the truth. Perhaps you cannot find the truth out forever but keep trying and moving forward despite running into failure sometimes.
Plus, I'm working with closely with other staff both in Japan and Hong Kong. I always believe it is one of my duties not only to improve myself but let the staff around grow up together. I discovered that the young bartenders in Hong Kong have a huge passion for alcohol and mixology for so long but don't know how to learn and grow in an effective way. And I found myself excited to take up the responsibility to let them do well in their positions and actualise their potentials. So it's not just about the individual but nurture the new generations. This is certainly my motivation of work.
Q: What do you think are the key elements to progress as a World Champion award bartender?
In my perspective, the first important thing is to find a good teacher. Otherwise it will be difficult to get to somewhere you want to be in the career. If you are looking for winning a champion award, I’d suggest you looking for seniors who used to be a champion or while nearly-champion bartender to work with. But do notice that sometimes it's difficult for the teacher to explain exactly the skills and techniques. So I always tell my colleagues to be proactive and steal everything from me. I don't have any secret. If you ask me any question then I will answer everything.
Another hint is to keep practice and practice. It is necessary not to stop. Just continue doing.
Even if you have successfully created a famous cocktail that is looking and tasting good, I’d say you shall never think about stopping there. Try to think about the improvement and find out the better solutions. For example, looking for a better combination of ingredients and flavour. This is very important for winning a competition.
Ultimately speaking, competition is about being outcompeted with some other bartenders. Obviously someone win and somebody lose. In my opinion, to win a competition hinges on how much you make an effort. If you do it much harder than the others do, you will have a higher chance to win though there is no guarantee as always. But at least you have the confidence because you did try it hard and work way more than others. So this is also the key point for winning a competition, especially when you are on the stage. You know, it is very nervous at some point of time. But if you have a confidence. You’d be able to calm yourself and perform well.
Q: How do you get the inspiration to create a new cocktail?
To be honest, the spark does come up suddenly sometimes when I was just working or walking around during my leisure time. Like I might see something spicy on the shop or restaurant then immediately think this kind of spicy material can be mixed as a new ingredient onto the existing ones to create the right spicy flavor, either it be the chilli or ginger.
I would say this is like a hobby of experiencing and brainstorming, even after work. When I'm just off-work for the day, I would still think and imagine what kind of things is a new to me for making new cocktails. Like when I go to the restaurant or a coffee shop I would sort out what kind of taste for the food I am having would be a perfect match with whisky or gin as a brand-new cocktail.
And once I get an idea I would come back and try to mix it. Then sometimes of course. Oh it's no good but sometimes. Wow it's really good then. After all I would keep those ideas in my mind or in a notebook.
And when some customer came into my bar and tell me they want this and that kinds of flavours. I would also put them all in my mind then make the new cocktail for that specific customer. Some may ask me directly to use a particular ingredients to make a special cocktail. After that I would start calculating the portion of this ingredient and come to mix them together and see how it finally tastes. Sometimes it really works and goes beyond my expectation. Frankly speaking, this is not just my creation but a combination of each other. Customer and I make the new cocktail together.
Q: What's the most important bartending philosophy? Why do you think it is that important?
When I'm making cocktail I'm always thinking about who drinks it. If two of their customers are ordering and I make the same Martini for them, it may then not suit for two people, for every person has a different palate and different preference. So I'm always thinking about what is the best cocktail for that specific person. So even if it is martini or Gin Tonic, I have to control the ratio. And I'm always controlling the ratio across the time: whether it is in evening or midnight or almost in the morning. Or like the time during dinner or before dinner. Human palate is a quite sensitive but we can feel the differences. So if I'm making gin and tonic in the evening I will make it more refreshing. But, in the midnight, if the customers have already drunk some alcohols or wine before, then I will make the gin and tonic a bit stronger.
When I was making cocktails I didn't use any kinds of cup measurement. I'm using hand measure. It's a handy measure when I put the ingredient and spirits together. The way I do it is to pay attention to the thickness of the liquid. I'm always trying to keep the same thickness then I can count like number one two three and then this becomes like 30ml or 20ml. It is like I have my own measurement. This is my style.
Because as I said every customer has a different preference and different palate. So if the same measurement is used for every customer, then that cocktail itself will just always be the same for the different person or the same person across different days. But everybody is changing so how to adjust the pace is the most important.
最大的挑戰是這是我第一次在日本以外的地方從事調酒師。 還記得當我初初來香港的時候，從一開始我就用在日本工作時的方式去服務客戶和管理團隊。 但很明顯，由於兩地的文化差異，這一套方法並不管用，以致當時所有員工都離開了。 然後我開始意識到自己過份自我了並開始深入去了解香港文化，以及本地客戶和同事對調酒師和酒吧的期望。 幸好，在香港的第二年，我遇到了一位友善的同事，很有耐性地與我分享本地的風土文化。 我從她身上學到了很多關於香港人和香港文化的知識，以致我今天能夠妥善營運及管理一家專業的酒吧。
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge to manage a bar in Hong Kong?
The biggest challenge is it is the first experience being a bartender outside Japan. From the beginning I was almost doing the same thing as I was in Japan to serve the customers and manage the team. But it did not work because of the different cultures. I remember everybody was gone back then. My colleagues said it was too hard for them. Then I realised I was too selfish because I used the Japanese way in Hong Kong, which is a completely different place here. I then started learning the Hong Kong culture and what the customers and colleagues expect of a bartender as well as a bar. During my second year here, I encountered a very good colleague who told me about the local culture very softly. By then I learned from her about the culture quite a lot. And now I am able to manage well by also taken into account the difference. ------------------------------------------------------ 特別嗚謝：Mizunara: The Library Mizunara: The Shop Like & Share: Cheers Asia 瀏覽更多專訪：www.cheersasia.com