What it’s about: Despite his youth, Ryuu Sasakura has gained a reputation as a master bartender among his peers and patrons alike. People seek out his bar in the hopes of receiving the perfect cocktail – a “Glass of the Gods” that not only suits their desires but guides them on the next step of their journey.
Why you should watch it: It’s a laid-back, meditative slice-of-life show. There’s nothing all that flashy about it, but every episode introduces new patrons with new problems and new stories to tell. There’s nothing outlandish or unbelievable about the stories (aside from Ryuu’s Sherlockian ability to read the minutia of behaviour), but they’re all interesting and well put-together. The show is unabashedly Western-focused, with cocktails, stories and trivia drawn from the UK and the U.S.. The show does a good job of introducing and settling each story in its own episode and, as a bonus, each episode ends with a recipe for the featured cocktails, if you want to try them yourself. Bartender isn’t in the running for “greatest show of all time”, but it’s a unique experience and well worth checking out if you want a bit of a breather from heavier or more action-packed series.
Caveats: With no overarching plot, it’s a show that’s best watched an episode at a time. Just sit back with a drink in hand, because you’ll definitely want one by the end of each show.
Themes: Well, on the surface, the show’s message might be read as “alcohol is the solution to every problem” but, really, it’s more about how the great stresses and tortured dilemmas that we all face really aren’t that bad – that all one needs is some distance and time to reflect, and the courage to see what needs to be done. And, of course, a receptive ear as we moan about our lot.