When the curtain comes down on the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka on March 31, bringing to an end 55 years of history, it will also mark the end of Misao Nomura's career at the hotel. The 61-year-old has spent most of his 40-year career working behind the hotel's bar.
In 1971, about three years after joining the hotel staff, Nomura was transferred to the Napoleon Bar, located in a corner of the old building. His trademark martini, made with gin and vermouth, is known as a "Nomura martini" and has become a specialty of the hotel.
"Even though we make [the cocktail] with the same ingredients, it just doesn't have the same taste," one of his colleagues lamented.
Nomura said his motto is to serve customers with the same attitude, and maintain the same taste with his cocktails at all times. That said, when he was starting out in his career he once let his annoyance show after a customer criticized him for serving the wrong drink.
A senior bartender at the time warned him to cool down, so Nomura left the bar for a month to think long and hard about the kind of attitude a bartender should have. Since then, he has managed to keep his cool when serving customers, and has taken notes on customers' preferences.
In his early years as a bartender, he said customers often told him his cocktails lacked "bite."
"It's precisely because I went through such tough experiences when I was young that I've become what I am today," he said.
Nomura has yet to decide where he will go after the hotel, affectionately called "Aka Pri," closes.
But one thing is sure--he is fully committed to providing customers with his usual high level of service once he gets behind the bar.
-The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network