My first encounter with Japanese bartending was a couple of years ago, at a seminar by Japanese-trained bartender Stanislav Vadrna. Vadrna is very passionate about the discipline, which he learned by studying under Kazuo Uyeda, famed Japanese bartender and author of Cocktail Techniques. The focus and concentration involved in the Japanese style of bartending is truly amazing.
Cocktail Techniques outlines the process of bartending that defines the Japanese style—the recipes are only part of what makes each cocktail successful. Every movement, every thought of the bartender contributes to the experience, and the cocktail itself is only a portion of the final equation. The recipes, of course, do matter quite a bit; for each classic recipe in the book, Uyeda includes the original version alongside the proportions he uses. In the introduction for the White Lady, for example, Uyeda explains that the drink is simply a Gin Sidecar, and elaborates on how the use of his hard shake technique requires that a different ratio of gin be used in his recipe.
This version of the White Lady is light and fresh, blending the subtle botanicals of gin with the sweetness of Cointreau and the tartness of lemon juice. Though the proportion of gin is high in Uyeda's iteration, his technique skillfully blends the flavors of the cocktail in such a way that it tastes as lovely and ethereal as it looks. In a pinch, you can use any triple sec, but there is no substitute for Cointreau's flavor and I highly recommend using the real thing. For the gin, use a London Dry style like Martin Miller's or Beefeater; stay away from Tanqueray, which has a more pronounced juniper profile that won't play as well here.
- 4 parts dry gin such as Martin Miller's or Beefeater (2 ounces)
- 1 part Cointreau (1/2 ounce)
- 1 part fresh lemon juice (1/2 ounce)
Add the gin, Cointreau and lemon juice to a shaker filled with ice.
Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. Serve.