Gona take a break from beer for a while (just on the blog, not in real life, God no) and up the ante a little with a boozy cocktail. Mainly a Daiquiri, made by our resident cocktail maestro, Victor from Sweden.
Im actually writing this post from our Rokkaku pub. Man in the Moon has four pubs in Kyoto (and 1 in Tokyo) and I work at the Rokkaku branch as well as the Kyoto station branch here in Kyoto.
So heres Victor doing his thang. Recently he’s so creative with cocktails, knocking out all sorts of original mixes, not on the menu. One to watch, this one.
But I decided to go for a Daiquiri, which is on the menu. As Victor says himself: Daiquiri is just rum, sugar and fresh lime, simples. In the correct quantities, shaken to perfection, served in the right glass, its the cocktail of cocktails. How does it go so wrong sometimes? Maybe because people don’t appreciate the simplicity and mess with the recipe, trying to make it something more complicated.
Which is a shame, because its perfect in its simplicity. Anyway this Daiquiri was delicious; boozy and with a good kick to it, its pretty much just alcohol after all, fresh, more-ish and it went to my head, in a good way. Id had a long day and Im not used to cocktails. I admit it made me a little tipsy.
I drank it with the lovely Daniela, there she is, our French belle. She’s on a Mojito.
Day: Who knows!
Verdict: Simple, classic, sexy; the Gucci of cocktails. And boozy, so drink it slowly.
Atmosphere: Lively for a Tuesday evening. We had our regular English night event so there was lots of energy in the bar. There was a football match on the tv, a friendly between Japan and Paraguay in advance of the World Cup. I drank it with Daniela who was also having a cocktail. Inspirational-vibes.
So this is a local Kyoto one! Its called The Premium Malts and its actually not on the menu, a little exclusive here. We do have have a Japanese beer called The Malts which will be coming up soon. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s much of a difference in them.
Technically Kirin Heartland should have been next on the list but I don’t like it so I might be procrastinating a little. I`ll get there. Its definitely next.
Meanwhile heres the pic of the Kyoto Premium Malts.
Hiramatsu-san in the background, Christina behind the reji. I had just finished my shift, and it was about 12 midnight. Wed had a fairly busy, steady evening so I was well ready to sit down and have a beer.
Davide finished at the same time so we drank it together.
We were in a roguish kind of a mood. There was a big group of German guys in, Paku had just arrived and he got the music going. We Will Rock You came on and lifted the roof, table thumping, foot stomping, air-punching – it was a racket.
I took a good sniff of it first actually and it smelled really fresh. I don’t know why, I just wanted to enjoy every bit of it. The moment the first drop hit my throat I realized how thirsty I was and took a big gulp. It was good, lemony actually. Christina tried it too, what did she say? Fruity I think.
I drank it fast and it quenched my thirst.
Acting the lark with Hiramatsu-san – Guinness badge buddies.
Drink: The Premium Malts – brewed in Kyoto (bottle)
Price: ¥800 (little bit more than the others – craft beer dakara)
Verdict: Lemony – thirst quenching
Atmosphere: Worked the evening shift, got off at 12 midnight. Was a fairly busy evening and I was thirsty! Drank it with Davide, the rogue! Big group of German lads in having a hoolie.
When I say Day 3/4, I should mention that this means Day 3/4 of the challenge – but the days are not necessarily consecutive. I can’t drink everyday, that’d be a whole other challenge. So I had a couple of booze free days since the last post and now I’m back and rearing to go again. So rearing that Imma tackle 2 drinks in this post.
Namely The Kirin Beers! Don don don! I don’t like Kirin beer you see.
So here goes, first up is:
Wasn’t looking forward to it. Wasn’t expecting to enjoy it. But it was actually quite good. Better than I expected. 期待しえてより美味しかったです！That’s always the way isn’t it. Expectations totally effect your experience of things.
I’d only tried Kirin on draught before and I definitely didn’t like it, regardless of the circumstances. I am learning that sometimes loads of things can effect your experience of things like who you’re with, your mood and all those sorts of things. But I’ve given Kirin draught a good couple of goes and I always don’t like it. (is that different from I never like it?).
But apparently I like it from the bottle. That`s the opposite of the norm right. Draught is usually better than bottle. Fresh is always better no?
Atmosphere-wise, had been working with Anna all day and we shared it in the last 15 minutes of our shift. There she is the trooper. She’s dosed with a sore throat and everything but she`s soldiering on.
Drink: Kirin Lager (bottle)
Verdict: Better than I expected, would drink again.
Atmosphere: Been working the day shift with Anna all day and we shared it in the last 15 minutes of our shift.
Next up: Kirin Ichiban Shibori (一番搾り）
The other day a customer sitting in the corner of the counter motioned me over with his hand. It was a pretty busy evening, quite noisy in the bar and he said ` something something something shibori `. Thats what I heard anyway. An oshibori is a wet tissue we give out to customers to wipe their hands before eating or drinking.
So I go like, aw you want an oshibori? He was with 2 friends, and beside them there was another guy sitting with his wife and they all completely burst into hysterics. At which point I realized I must have made a mistake and copped on that he was asking for Ichiban Shibori. The pronunciation and meaning is exactly the same, I might add. Hardly that ridiculous a mistake to make. Well they found it hilarious anyway which left me pretty embarrassed. I guess I won’t make that mistake again. Fuckers.
So heres the meaning of Ichiban Shibori. Ichiban means One or First. Shibori means like to squeeze or press something (so like thats what you’re doing when your cleaning your hands with the tissue right?).
The reason this beer is called ichiban shibori is that it only uses the first press of the wort. Whats a wort? Good question, I had to look that up myself. Its the liquid thats extracted during the brewing of beer or whiskey. Most brewers use the first and second press or extraction of the wort, but Kirin Ichiban only uses the first and its the only major brewer that does this.
Its a 100% pure malt beer. Typically, 100% malt beers have a strong and heavy taste, but, when brewed only from the first wort the flavor is smoother, and this is the pure flavor of the malt.
Ooh I actually am starting to learn stuff now. Cool.
I realize I haven’t said much in the way of my own personal opinion on the taste but I don’t remember now! Was rushing to meet Makkyo after work so just kind of knocked it back to be honest.
Drink: Kirin Ichiban Shibori (bottle)
Verdict: Smooth and easy to drink
Atmosphere: Worked the day shift and drank it towards the end of my shift. Was meeting Makkyo right after work so my mind was elsewhere 😉
I actually woke up for work this morning (10-18 shift) feeling a bit groggy from yesterdays beer (full disclosure: also had a sneaky gin and tonic so that might have contributed) anyways I said to myself that I won’t drink today, Ill just go home after work and Ill continue the challenge the next day.
But that was just the morning head talking. Come 4 o clock, somebody suggested a round of baby guinness (swear it wasn’t me) and next thing I know I’m lining up the shot glasses and calling kanpai! So when it got to 6 o clock and clocked off, I was ready for bottle beer number 2: Sapporo Black Label. Actually its number 1 on the menu, but if you read yesterdays post you’ll know that it sold out just before I finished my shift, and today, I got the last one! So that will give you an idea of its popularity.
So here it is: Sapporo Black Label (Takumi on the reji – couldn’t resist getting him in)
I was surprised by how much nicer I found it than the Sapporo red star, yesterdays beer. It was more refreshing, with no heavy aftertaste and it didn’t make me burp.
So I really enjoyed it. And Dakota joined me for her Otsukare drink (after work drink), there she is the little babe. So that made it extra fun. And I was looking forward to Nanae coming at 7 to go for dinner together. I hadn’t seen her in ages so I was really looking forward to seeing her. Double yay. And I’m off tomorrow. Triple yay. Do these things affect your experience? I think they probably do.
Anyways its a thumbs up for the Sapporo Black Label.
Heres the summary:
Drink: Sapporo Black Label (bottle)
Price: ¥700 – same as Sapporo Red Star.
Verdict: Light, refreshing, no aftertaste – better than Sapporo Red Star.
Atmosphere: Otsukare drink (after work drink). Drank it with Dakota, looking forward to meeting Nanae for dinner, off tomorrow. All round happy vibes. Makyo, Davide, Takumi and Kei working. Anna-chan also here, been working together all day and had a great catch up with her.
I’ve worked in Man in the Moon, Irish pub in Kyoto since October 2016, about a year and a half now, and its such a fun job. We have fun while we work and of course end up drinking…a lot. So I drink a lot of beer, the occasional red wine, I’m known to be partial to the odd gin and tonic, in the wee hours one for the road often turns into a whiskey. I suppose I knock back a jaeger bomb or baby guinness now and then too when the craic is good. Okay so I’ve tried a good few things. But I feel like I always just drink beer. And when customers ask me to recommend something, Id like to be more fluent in talking about our menu. I have always been one to value personal experience so Ive set myself the challenge of personally trying everything on the menu, in order that I can give my own opinion when people ask about stuff. Orrrr its just an excuse to drink and pretend Im doing important research for my job!
Anyway….basically menu-wise we have beer; bottled and draught, cocktails; spirit based and liqeur based, whiskey, wine, and because we are in Japan we also have sake, umeshu and shochu, a few non-alchohol drinks and that about covers it.
So Im gona start at the very beginning, as Fraulein Maria says, a very good place to start.
Page 1 on our menu is beer and and it starts with Japanese bottled beers.
As it turns out, the very first thing on the bottled beer menu, Sapporo Black Label, sold out just right before I finished my shift haha! Its popular and we had a busy couple of hours. So Im actually starting with the 2nd thing on the menu, which is Sapporo Lager Red Star.
Here it is. And Im washing it down with a packet of Tayto. Or is it the other way about? We don’t actually have Tayto in the bar, mores the pity, but it just so happens that an Irish guy, Adrian, came to the bar last night (I wasn’t working) and brought me some Tayto. He comes to Japan regularly and I met him the last time he came. So thank you Adrian!
Sapporo is actually my staple but I usually drink it draught, and drinking it from the bottle is a somewhat different experience I have to say. Im not drinking it from the bottle either, Im pouring into a glass, don’t really like drinking from bottles. Its the same size glass that I drink the draught from though; 3/4 size but yea it tastes different.
How can I describe it; its stronger that the draught. Its nice like, cold and fresh enough, but its kind of heavy. Theres a long aftertaste. To be honest, its making me burp.
I think thats about as technical as Im going to get with this one.
Okay heres the summary:
Drink: Sapporo Red Star (bottle)
Price: ¥700 – 安い！！its cheap. especially when you compare it to the draught, which is ¥900 for about the same amount.
Verdict: Would drink it again but only if there was no draught
Atmosphere: Just finished my shift. Its about 7 o clock. Davide, Christina and Paku are working. We had a nice group of Auzzies in who were on a group trip so I did my `kanpai` (cheers) with them!
Alright then there we go. It`s started!!. 始まりました！！
We’d been talking about getting a run to Tokyo for ages and this week we finally got around to it. Here’s the lowdown.
- We took the Midnight Bus: It’s an 8 hour run so people literally recoil when you tell them you’re taking the midnight bus. ‘Why would you do that to yourself?’ they ask. Well the other options are:
1. Shinkansen – super fast bullet train, get’s you there in about 2 and a half hours, but it’s really expensive – ¥26000, the equivalent of about €200 – fuck that.
2. Fly: But there’s no airport in Kyoto so it would be an hour and a half train to Osaka airport, then the flight which is short obvs, but then arriving into an airport and having to get a train into the city. Too much hassle!
And to be honest, I loved the midnight bus! We had a swift one in the Moon first of course and boarded at 22:10 for 22:20 departure on Wednesday night. They were those seats you can recline pretty far and your feet are raised up – nearly like a bed. We had blankets, eye masks and neck pillows. Comfy. I slept nearly the whole way, I’m such a baby. Can’t say the same for Dora though. Apparently the guy in the next row was snoring and farting – ick!
- Arrival: We arrived in Shinjuku at 08:00 to a live and kicking Thursday morning in Tokyo. Everyone rushing to work haha! Lines of blank-faced people in black suits and white shirts, marching to their doom. Dum dum dum! The Tokyo Rat Race – freaky. I never wanna be part of that. But it was a beautiful, bright, fresh morning (much cooler than stuffy Kyoto) and we took ourselves off to a nice little cafe for breakfast. Can’t remember the last time I went out for breakfast.
- Then it was off to Akihabara: A weird place. The home of technology in Japan – anime, video games, people dressed as Minnie Mouse on an ordinary Thursday morning. It’s like a real life anime or you feel like you’re in a video game or something. It’s cool – electric city it’s called. I had to get a new phone so this is why we came here. But it was no easy feat. I won’t even go in to how useless and unhelpful the guys in BIC Camera were. Japanese customer service is bullshit if you need them to do anything that’s not in the manual. Suffice to say that a wee Indian man called Bidura in a second hand shop saved my life. Thank you Bidura you little gem.
- Accommodation: A wee hostel in Shimbashi with heavier security than Alcatraz: heavily bolted metal doors, and we had to wait in a tiny enclosed corridor and knock a boarded window to get to speak to the staff. We arrived at 15:00 an hour earlier than check-in time, which was off manual, so no siree we couldn’t check in till 16:00.
- So we decided to go have Dinner: All we wanted was a place that served wine (for me) beer (for Dora) veggie food (for me) and um.. normal food (Dora) . Is that awkward? Apparently it is. We walked around for ages with no luck so eventually just went into the nearest place. I got wine so I was happy enough and Dora got beer, but it was Kirin which she hates. Food-wise we ended up with chips, salad, tofu and seaweed. Is that dinner?
- The Concert: I have zero interest in K-Pop (sorry Dora, rock!) but Dora loves this band FT Island so I said I’d go with her. I’m such a good friend. Never a more civilised concert have I ever been to. 3000 people queuing patiently outside in designated groups, waiting for their turn to go in. So mannerly. There was a bar but we were the only ones drinking. The bar staff were glad to see me coming – I made a few trips out to them. Dora stayed in rocking out. The crowd was mostly obachan (old ladies) ourselves included and by rocking out I mean waving your right hand forward and back in the air while holding a little light. I actually pissed off 2 obachan while on one of my laps around the venue. I made the mistake of trying to push between them – they had a good spot up the front leaning against a bar. But they sent me packing. They were taking no shit from me – fair fucks to them. I laughed. The band were pretty hot (Korean like) and decent craic and I could actually understand a good bit of what they were saying – yayyy. I probably enjoyed the chat more than the music.
- After the concert we took a train to Shimbashi to find Man in the Moon, our Tokyo branch. We got some decent food there and met the lovely staff who gave us a proper Moon welcome. Diego arrived at 00:00 to ‘close’ the bar but that’s really when we got going! It was so good to catch up Diego – I miss you!! Thanks for a great night and a horrible hangover!
- Getting home: It’s a bit of a blur. Don’t ask me what time it was. We made it to the street we were staying on, without Google Maps and everything but then couldn’t figure out the rest, so got a taxi about 100 metres. I also vaguely remember eating soba. But I only remembered it the next day when we walked past a soba shop and smelled the soba. I didn’t say anything to Dora at the time. Still haven’t. Some things are better left unsaid.
- The next day: Worst hangover ever. But Dora was fine. Grrr! She went off sightseeing but I couldn’t face the packed trains and queues everywhere – horrendous even on your better days. I made it to Harajuku and walked around there – got a pink lemonade served in a light bulb – quirky. Walked around the beautiful and peaceful Meji shrine – a gorgeous quiet, woodsy, holy place, you don’t expect to find in the middle of a city. I also took a nap in Yoyogi park. After that I started to come around and went off to meet Dora in Asakusa. It was evening by this time and we walked around the shrine and enjoyed the beautiful breeze by the river. Dora took some cool pics here. In fact all these pics are Dora’s.
- Panic stations at Shinjuku station: So the bus back to Kyoto was due to depart at 22:35. We’re still dawdling around Asakusa at 21:00 looking at the moon. ‘We’d better start heading back around 21:30 I say’. ‘Sure’ Dora says, cool as we like. So we get on the train at Asakusa at 21:30 bound for Kanda. Change at Kanda for Shinjuku and arrive at Shinjuku train station around 22:10. Plenty a time you’d think. Wrong! We had to pick up Dora’s bag from the locker she left it in. But where did she leave it? Shinjuku station is M-A-S-S-I-V-E and C-O-N-F-U-S-I-N-G. Dora had even taken a picture of the locker, but we still couldn’t find it. So there we are running around the station up the escalators, down the stairs, over to the central gate, back to the south gate, Oh my god, it was like a maze. At one stage I thought we were just gona have to leave it. But then Dora asked one of the station staff and eventually found it.So now it’s like 22:25. 10 minutes till the bus departs. And this is Japan – that means 22:35 not a minute sooner, not a minute later. And we’re still not sure where the bus departs from. We race to the south entrance. Turns out the bus station is in a totally different building across the road. So it’s up the escalators again, searching for our platform which turns out to be ages away. We’re both sweating like pigs at this stage and with the hangover and everything, I really need a drink! Not that kind of drink! A fizzy one. It’s 8 hours to Kyoto like. And hey hey there’s a konbini next to our departure platform. But the queue is out the door. Literally about 30 people deep. I grab a banana drink and start queuing. Dora goes to find a loo. The queue is going really fast but I know the time is a ticking and the bus is not a-waiting. I’m so thirsty I start drinking my banana in the queue. Consider just making a run for it. Come on to fuck people. 22:33 and I’m at the cashier. No I would not like a bag. Meet Dora coming out of the toilet and we run to find our bus. 22:34 and we’re on. Very very Giri-giri! (Giri-giri = Japanese for ‘a close call’)
Photo credit: All by Dora 🙂