#1 Authentic feel
Eden Hall may seem like a small, unremarkable bar from the outside. However, for those with a true love for spirits, it is akin to a holy site. Bartender Ryuu Sasakura is a young dude, but he is a true master when it comes to alcohol. Thus people flock to the Eden Hall, in search of Sasakura’s legendary “Glass of God”.
What immediately grabbed my attention was how authentic Bartender feels. The bar itself has a nice layout and its shelves are lined with all manner of bottles. Whiskeys, gins, wines, and everything in-between. And all of these bottles are actual, real drinks that you could buy yourself. They didn’t change any of the names to be legally distinct or made up their own fake brands. You just get Tullamore Dew, Beefeater, Captain Morgan, Bombay, Guinness, Ardbeg, and so many more. It’s actually quite fun to see how many bottles you can identify in the background.
Subsequently, this makes a lot of the anime’s discussion about the history behind different drinks feel a lot more genuine. The commentary provided by Sasakura comes of as knowledgeable and held up under scrutiny whenever we tried to fact check him. This authenticity made Bartender very convincing. We actually ended up buying some of the featured bottles and made some of Sasakura’s cocktails ourselves.
#2 Glimpses into people’s lives
Just as important as the bar and its bartender are the actual clients looking to drink the night away. Each episode sees new people arrive at Eden Hall and all of them have a story to tell.
One episode has Sasakura serve a feuding couple, whose marriage is falling apart under the strain of conflicting work hours and lack of communication. Another has a connoisseur put Sasakura’s knowledge on scotch to the test with a tricky riddle. Some of these stories get admittedly bizarre, like one episode where a con artist threatens to commit a crime unless Sasakura can overcome his challenge.
The writing is strong enough to make even the strangest plots work for this episodic format, making for some quality drama. Some of the characters that Sasakura helps also then go on to become permanent supporting characters, who play minor roles in subsequent stories. This creates continuity, preventing the show from feeling like a series of unconnected, one-off stories.
#3 Learning some cocktails
As Sasakura deals with all his difficult customers, there are many opportunities to learn a few recipes from him. Mixing cocktails is definitely not easy, but with the show’s help even a total amateur could make something nice.
Unlike Love is Like a Cocktail, these instructions go much further than just showing you a list of ingredients. Bartender also shows how drinks are poured, how to stir, even how to recreate some impressive effects if you feel like showing off. The ending song even goes over the featured drink of each episode a second time, with a live-action segment showing how it’s made.
I had literally 0 experience mixing drinks and still managed to get far with just Bartender‘s instructions. Especially those live-action segments helped to make all the steps and techniques comprehensive to a rookie like me. Tune in next Thursday to see how it went in more detail!
More like this…
VA-11 Hall-A: Stories unfolding while mixing unique cocktails.
Catherine: Get drunk, resolve emotional trauma.
Death Parade: Episodic stories about the clients of a fancy cocktail bar.