Tsunetaka Imada is the Senior Bartender at Angel’s Share in New York. He makes us two cocktails, one with Rum and Kokutto Syrup and the second with Cognac and Orgeat Cookie.
Tsunetaka introduce yourself
I began my career in Machida, Japan, when I was 18 years old. My first bar was a cabaret club, where the owner recognized my passion for cocktails and sent me to another bar where I would have more opportunities to learn about cocktails, a wine/cocktail bar called Chinon. At 22 years old, while working at Tovarisch, I had the opportunity to run a bar by myself, beginning with one day a week under my responsibility. It was during this time that I discovered gin and began exploring it in different recipes, I was so taken by the spirit that I expanded my gin collection up to 100 bottles. At 27 years old, I relocated to New York to learn another country’s style of bartending. There I reconnected with Takuma Watanabe who I’d met previously in Japan. He introduced me to Angel’s Share which, I loved right away, and shortly after I joined the team. I worked my way up from busser, a requirement at Angel’s Share, to having my own creations on the menu alongside those of the other talented bartenders there. In 2020, I was awarded National Champion of the USA region in the Bacardi Legacy competition. Thanks to it, I began to do pop up and guest shifts, which I still enjoy today. I can see along my journey how supportive and encouraging has been the hospitality industry. This is a field where we can all grow together.
The classic you want to show us
60ml of Dark Rum with Kummel Spices Fat Washed with Bacon
2 Barspoons of Kokutto Syrup
5 Dashes of Mole Bitters
Spray of Melon
The bar you dream of
Before anyone can taste what you serve, they must cross into your venue. Space is important. We all like to walk into some places that are attractive. A first visit should be a welcome surprise and always a pleasure to revisit. Classic elements, with wood incorporated in the design. As anywhere lighting is important, also the flow of people through the space. It’s necessary that a bar has a playful side, authentic. That’s my kind of dream bar.
What do you do in your time off
Resting, hanging out with friends and family, and visiting new restaurants and bars to gather inspiration. When the weather is sunny, play tennis too.
The spirit you like the most
Gin, to drink and to work with. Gin is adaptable, its base ingredients do not impose any limitation, rather it’s a harmonious arrangement of several notes. While juniper, angelica, liquorice and coriander are the most common botanicals used, many makers add layers in even more flora. Discovering the roots of their nuances and working them into balance with a cocktail creation of my own, is both challenging and fun.
What makes a good cocktail
Three words: concept, balance, technique.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
Teas and flowers, every region have different flavours of tea, and flowers as well, these elements carry perceptible traces of their origin in their flavour.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
Raisin the Roof
30ml of Cognac infused with Raisins and Fat Washed with Brown Butter
30ml of Pineapple Juice
20ml of Orgeat Cookie
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
If you find yourself in New York you could stop by Martiny’s, Thyme Bar or Mace. If you have time, visit all three.
Thank you Danico to make this interview possible