Ask Rogerio Igarashi Vaz

Updated: 04 Nov 2016 | By:

The Co-founder and Chief Bartender of Bar Tram and Bar Trench in Japan, the latter of which was chosen as one of the World’s 100 Best Bars in 2014, has shown that Japan is as good as the western world where the craft originated from.

The master mixologist will recreate Bar Trench during Whisky Live 2016 and will be behind the bar making drinks for guests that showcase the latest cocktail trends in Japan. He shares some strategies on how to run a cocktail bar.


1. As a bar owner, what would you say are the most important traits to have before even considering opening a bar of your own?

First, you need to know the area in which you are planning to have your bar. Is it an area with a big flow of people or a local area? Is it an area with a young crowd or a much older one? Does the area match the concept you have in mind? Does this area have any other bars and what types of bar(s) is/are more predominant in the area?

You can have an amazing idea and concept but if you decide to open a bar in the wrong area for the wrong crowd, the bar will not work. The cocktail menu and what type of bottles you hold on the shelves will be one of the last things to look at. There is a big difference between working in the Bar and working on your Bar.

2. What are the tips you can give to bartenders who want to start a bar and sustain?

Making good cocktails is important but it is just a tiny percentage of the whole picture. Running a bar is a business, and like all businesses you need to make it sustainable. For every cocktail you make, it will include the rent you have to pay, the staff costs, cleaning costs, glasses, electricity, water bills, taxes, training costs and all other incidentals that you don’t see in the first place but it can cost a lot by the end of the day. As a bartender, you may think the owner is making tons of money but after paying all the bills and taxes, profits are a lot less. Proper management and accountancy are necessary to keep the bar viable.

3. As one of the 100 Best Bars in Asia, what is the most sought after drink on Bar Tram and Bar Trench’s menu?

We change our menu every season to always keep fresh and new. But one of the highlights of the menu recreated for Whisky Live 2016 is Jet Black Bird inspired by the Beatles song “Black Bird”. This consists of a mix of Nikka Coffey Malt, Monkey 47 sloe gin, honey, lemon and bamboo charcoal powder. It’s a malty, fruity and sour concoction, and black in colour.