Follow TV Tropes


Manga / Bartender

Go To
Every drink has a story.

Bartender is the title of a Japanese manga series written by mangaka Araki Joh and illustrated by Kenji Nagatomo. Its focus is a genius bartender who uses his talents to ease the worries and soothe the souls of troubled customers.

Bartender follows the nightlife of Ryu Sasakura, a bartending prodigy who is said to mix the best cocktails anyone has ever tasted. Sasakura bides his time in his bar, Lapin (or Eden Hall in the anime), hidden in a nook of the Ginza district in downtown Tokyo. Over the course of the series, various figures of high and low stature, all of who share unusual troubles and heavy burdens, are "invited" in and are treated to Sasakura's fine drinks, which, with guidance from the young bartender, leads the customers to reflect on their lives and decide on a course of action to tackle their problems.

The manga received an 11-episode anime adaptation in 2006 by Palm Studio, with a live-action adaptation — which ran for 8 episodes — premiering five years later in 2011. A prequel showing Ryuu's return from Paris, titled Bartender à Paris, was released one year after the original manga ended serialization. Bartender à Tokyo and Bartender 6stp, two spin-off mangas that follow a different protagonist, were released in 2013 and 2016 respectively and concluded serialization in 2016 and 2019. A new anime adaptation produced by Liber, titled Bartender: Glass of God, would be slated for an April 2024 release.

This series provides examples of:

  • Artistic License – Law: A minor tequila-related error appears in chapter 59. Ryuu states that Mezcal and Tequila are virtually the same drink, the only difference being that Tequila is manufactured in Jalisco. This is both true and false. Mezcal and Tequila are both made from Agave, but only a specific type of Agave (Blue Agave) is used in the manufacturing process for Tequila, and while Jalisco is the major producer of Tequila, other regions within Mexico, by Federal Law, can also manufacture the liquor and be legally recognized as Tequila, that is, certain regions within the states of Guanajuato, Nayarit, Tamaulipas and Michoacan. Any Blue Agave based liquor manufactured outside the sanctioned areas by the Mexican Government, including other countries, cannot be called "Tequila", this is because Mexico holds the exclusive global trading rights to the word "Tequila".
  • Captain Ersatz: Kuzuhara is most likely based of Kazuo Ueda, one of Japan's most famous bartenders.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The first animated series compressed about 46 chapters and three arcs into 11 episodes.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: The entire series is rife with philosophical discussions on everyday problems.
  • Credits Gag: The credits for each episode includes the recipe for the main drink featured and a bartender showing how it is prepared.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The closing credits feature a video of a live-action bar, where a bartender prepares a drink (the drink varies depending on the episode).
  • Deuteragonist: The series spends as much time to develop Tsubasa's progress as an aspiring bartender as it does explore Ryu's far more skilful exploits in dealing with their customers.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Most of the customers who come to Sasakura are troubled people who order drinks to ease their pain.
  • Friendly Rivalry: The bartending industry generally don't bother to outdo each other, as each bar offers their own unique style of service that may cater to different clients. Some bars may even recommend their rivals if the clients is not pleased with their style.
  • Generation Xerox: Miwa looks just like her grandmother did in her youth.
  • Greek Chorus: Seen mostly in the anime. The best example has several clients of Ryu's explain his backstory to each other in "The Face of a Bar"; it is also used in other episodes to a lesser degree.
  • From Bad to Worse: Ryu's arrival to Paris was anything but smooth. First his pack of belongings gets stolen by a thief, then he loses the directions to where he was supposed to be going to a dog, then his phone got destroyed by a car.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Many of Ryu's customers, who appear as Jerkasses at first, are later shown to either have more tender sides to them or nagging insecurities that made them appear that way, usually both.
    • "Mr. Perfect" Kuzuhara learned the philosophies that underlie his mode of bartending during months spent as an acolyte in a Buddhist monastery.
    • Ryu is smooth as ice and slicker than a silver bullet behind the bar. Outside of his professional setting, he is The Ditz, The Klutz and apparently completely obsessed with eating gyoza.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Ryuu turns out to have been disinherited by his family.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Being an Iyashikei series, the manga focuses on people taking time off to ponder life's challenges over a cocktail or two.
  • Jerkass: Miayu Emi, a nurse, acts like a complete jerk to others in the service industry just so she can feel better about herself. This has caused her to be blacklisted from several hotels.
  • Just Friends: Ryu and Miwa, for the time being. Some ship tease moments have been scattered here and there, and Kyoko even lampshades that they could become more than that.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Kase gets to bartend one last time days before passing away of old age.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Kaze Gorou -> Ryu Sasakura -> Wakui Tsubasa. Being Kaze Gorou's first grand-apprentice opens a lot of doors for Tsubasa.
  • My Greatest Failure: Failing to dissuade one of his bar customers from committing suicide was this for Ryuu.
  • Ojou: Miwa is a downplayed version of this. Despite being the granddaughter of Kurushima Company CEO, she rather have a normal life than inheriting the company.
  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue: A rare non-wedding example in chapters 136 to 143 features "Treasures of the Bar" which uses the the same wedding criteria for the purpose of collecting specific mementos to as good luck charms for reopening a new bar.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Ernest Hemingway loved daiquiris. It's his love for daiquiris that gave birth to the Hemingway Daiquiri (also known as the Papa Double). His love for Mojitos is also mentioned.
    Hemingway: My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita
  • Self-Made Man: Ryu, the second son of a powerful man in Japan, most likely a high ranking diet member, yet he decided to run away from home and start working at restaurant and bars in France. It was there where he got his first big break.
  • Serious Business: Some people are way too impressed by Ryu's skills.
  • Sherlock Scan: Ryu has something similar just by looking at people's hands.
  • Shout-Out: Hemingway, The Luck of Edenhall, amongst other things — mostly references to the story of several spirits, famous cocktails and some real life celebrities.
  • Skilled, but Naive: Ryu is at times shown to be this, in spite of his experience, especially in the prequel.
  • Slice of Life: The manga doesn't have a specific plot, or really any goal to accomplish, and deals with the everyday experiences at a bar.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • A good deal of Ryu's clients. It's considered a sacred duty of the bartender to allow this facade to be perpetuated, at least as long as the customer's still in the bar. However, Ryu will make some exceptions to the rule, such as when a con man tries to marry a girl for her money, after which he will presumably skip out on her; Ryu considers adding such trauma to a proposal, which is supposed to be the happiest moment of a young woman's life, to be unforgivable.
    • Ryu himself is one. Lampshaded by a client that says that no matter how bad or rude the client is, or how depressed and troubled the bartender is, its the bartender's duty to keep smiling as part of his job. Ryu confirms this in a later mini-arc.
      "No matter how much pain you feel inside, a bartender can never wear a painful expression on his face in front of the customers."
  • The Reliable One: In this manga, bartenders are one of the two professions (other than a pharmacist) which are not allowed to betray a customer. As a drink of a bartender can be a medicine or a poison.
  • To Be a Master: Subverted. Ryu Sasakura travelled the world, learning his craft from the best bartenders in the world, and has reached such a level of skill that he is known as "The glass of God". That is all in the Backstory. The manga begins as he has returned home and begins to apply his skills.
  • Walking the Earth: An interesting variation. Ryu moves from bar to bar on recommendation of his seniors, in order for him to improve even more. At this point, arriving back in Japan after spending 8 years in France, he starts in Bar Lapin, then moves on to Bar Saito, under the apprentice of Master Saito, later moves into Bar Eden Hall, and, later moves to Kurushima-san's new bar at Hotel Bishop, also called Bar Eden Hall.
  • The Watson: Tsubasa Wakui (Ryu's apprentice) is quite a newbie in the bartending world, and he asks many questions regarding the technical jargons associated with the industry that the Audience would otherwise not know about.