Mixologist Hidetsugu Ueno of Bar High Five - Biography
7-2-14 Ginza Chuo-ku, Tokyo
It would be wrong to say that Bar High Five in Tokyo is an institution. That’s not to say it isn’t an amazing bar (it is), with legions of devoted followers worldwide (which it has). But it’s really Hidetsugu Ueno that is the institution. Ueno, who began his cocktailing career in 1992, would give (and has given) most western mixologists a run for their money. He’s consistently won or placed as a finalist in leading cocktail contests for various spirits (rum, gin, and, of course, Suntory whisky) almost since he first took his revered spot behind the bar. However, these days he’s more apt to be on the judging side of such contests (when he isn’t teaching workshops in Taiwan, Paris, London, Moscow, or New York City).
Having also worked at the popular Star Bar before opening Bar High Five, Ueno doesn’t rely on a menu; he and his fellow bartenders try to gauge what a customer wants whenever possible. Ueno’s White Lady and Japanese Garden cocktails are marvel in their own right, but it’s his “ice diamond” carving that has made him truly legendary. The English-speaking bartender is not averse to chatting up Japanese locals, expats, or tourists.