Hotel bars almost always don't get enough of a recognition that they deserve because well, most of them are just hotel bars with passable drinks. Once in awhile you come across a bar at a hotel that earns a spot in your list of favorite places and then you think to yourself why can't other hotel bars be this special? The St Regis Bar in Osaka deserves every mentionable praise especially when combined with the hotel brand's of hospitality and Japanese graciousness.
We are early for check-in in the afternoon and head to the bar for a round of drinks. At this time, the only other guests inside is a group of suited businessmen seated at a table. The room is very inviting with the comfortable armchairs. We forgo this and head straight for bar seating. The very lovely female bartender becomes one of the friendliest bartender we meet. An absolutely sweet lady, we watch her prepare drinks in a manner that is so smooth and suave yet without any forced energy when it comes to shaking up cocktails or pouring liquor. She tells us about the St Regis Bar layout and that many pieces of art on the walls have a purpose, which is to represent and reflect traditional Japanese elements. The impressive piece of painting that acts as the backdrop for the bar is a visual representation of the city of Osaka with the St Regis hotel drawn in along with other popular Osakan landmarks. Another traditional Japanese pictorial element on the wall include a mask used in theatrical drama of kabuki; the other is an art piece on the mirrored wall that symbolizes Nippon or Nihon (Japan in Japanese) as the "Land of the rising sun."
This first afternoon we decide to save the signature St Regis Bloody Mary for the next night and so we peruse the sake selections. Indecisiveness takes over and the bartender suggests we try two matsu sake; one dry and the other sweet. Matsu is the traditional way of serving sake in a wooden box and the sake is sipped from one of the corners of the box. We enjoy the sake with conversations between us and the bartender. We talk about Japan, food, and drinks. Building a relationship with the bartender is always something we like to do to show appreciation of their craft.
When it comes to drinks, the essence of a drinking place, they shine in Bloody Mary. Known to loyal St Regis guests all over the world is the hotel's initiative in creating versions of the Bloody Mary drink with a twist that is unique to that city while incorporating localized elements into the libation. St Regis Osaka's very own version is the Shogun Mary made with wasabi, shoyu, fresh celery juice, tomato juice, yuzu and tabasco. Around the glass rim is powdered wasabi. Bloody Mary versions from other cities can also be and the bartender prepares for us a Red Snapper, the signature of the St Regis New York. This version is made with tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco, cayenne pepper, and black peppercorn. We compare the taste and flavor of Shogun Mary and Red Snapper and become impressed at how closely they are made to reflect each culture's taste. The Japanese is known for making incredible cuisine that focuses on very delicate and pure flavors. The Shogun Mary reflected just that- the cocktail is light and delicate. We take a sip of the Red Snapper and at once notice the difference in intensity of a bold taste.
The bartender asks us to name some favorites drinks of people in Chicago. She takes out a notepad from her pocket and is ready to take notes. She says that she wants to try and make them. That could be quite a tough one since people's tastes are so diverse. We tell her about the Pickleback. She absolutely must know about it! Well, it's really because we absolutely love it and in recent months it has become the favorite drink among bartenders. It started in NYC and now of course trendy bars in Chicago are offering it. Pickleback? She looks confused. Oh, it's easy, we tell her. You don't need a recipe for that. Just take a shot of Jameson whiskey (it has to be Irish whiskey, at least, as other types of whiskey won't work) and then followed by a shot of pickle juice/brine. The after taste is umami, we tell her.
The St Regis Bar
St Regis Hotel