Ambassador interview Chapter 3: [Ambassador Edition]

Interview with BAR TIMES STORE Ambassador Kazuaki Nagao ③

In April 2023, we had the honor of conducting a commemorative interview with Kazuaki Nagao, who became an ambassador for BAR TIMES STORE (Bar LIBRE/Ikebukuro). This project aims to not only explore his role as an ambassador but also delve into his journey as a bartender, including the reasons behind his career choice and the allure of bartending. With an abundance of captivating stories to share, we present a three-part series: "The Bartender Edition," "The Vietnam Edition," and finally, "The Ambassador Edition." In the concluding segment, we will bring you the "Ambassador Edition," in which Nagao discusses the motivations behind his application as an ambassador for BAR TIMES STORE and his future activities.

I applied to become an ambassador for BAR TIMES STORE in order to prevent forgetting the English conversation skills I've diligently acquired.

BAR TIMES: Now, you have taken on the role of ambassador for BAR TIMES STORE. Could you please tell us your motivation for applying?

NAGAO: One of the requirements for the ambassador application was delivering a presentation in English. The survival English conversation skills I acquired in Vietnam were hardly put to use after returning to Japan, and I felt like I was gradually forgetting them. Additionally, due to the pandemic, there were fewer foreign customers visiting, and I didn't want to let the skills I had acquired go to waste.

BAR TIMES: It's understandable, considering the effort you put into learning English.

NAGAO: Moreover, through interacting with bartenders from overseas, I realized the greatness of Japan's bar culture. The presence of high-quality bar tools unique to Japan supports this bar culture, and I felt excited about spreading that message to the world.

Mr. Nagao, driven by the desire not to let his efforts in learning English go to waste, volunteered to become an ambassador for BAR TIMES STORE.


During my training period, my first competition appearance, and even in Vietnam, the YUKIWA cocktail shaker was always by my side.

BAR TIMES: Mr. Nagao, do you have any cherished bar tools?

NAGAO: It would be the YUKIWA cocktail shaker. It was with me during my training period in Kagawa, as well as during the practice and actual competitions since my first appearance in 2015. They come in various sizes like 350ml and 500ml, but I always used YUKIWA. Whether it was during business at the bar or even in Vietnam, I relied on the YUKIWA cocktail shaker. I have been using it for years, and it feels comfortable in my hands. Changing the shaker can actually change the taste of a cocktail, so the cocktails I create now using this shaker reflect my personal touch. The first shaker I used during my training period is currently displayed at my home.

For Mr. Nagao, the YUKIWA cocktail shaker is truly his partner. He believes that only with this shaker can he truly bring out his own unique flavors.

A multitude of bar tools that will attract the attention of bartenders worldwide are featured in the YouTube videos.

BAR TIMES: It may be a difficult question to answer, but what are your honest thoughts on BAR TIMES STORE?

NAGAO: Not only is BAR TIMES STORE well-known, but people from all over the world watch BAR TIMES' YouTube channel. Especially, it has gained strong support from overseas, and when I went to Vietnam or Thailand, bartenders there would watch those videos and ask me, 'Why do Japanese bartenders do it this way?' They were curious about the techniques shown in the videos. Moreover, the videos have no background music, only the sounds of shaking and pouring liquids. It's the simplicity of just creating cocktails that appeals to everyone.

BAR TIMES: Our YouTube channel was created about 10 years ago, and thankfully, we currently have approximately 120,000 subscribers. We chose not to include background music because many viewers expressed their desire to focus on the making process and hear the sounds of the cocktails being prepared.

NAGAO: That's the background behind it. I truly believe that BAR TIMES' YouTube channel has played a significant role in elevating the status of Japanese bartenders worldwide. Bartenders from around the world must be paying attention to the bar tools featured in those videos. The impact it has on the bar industry is immense in various ways. Just like the quality-focused video production, BAR TIMES STORE continues to provide tools to the world without compromising on quality. I have immense respect for that. It's genuinely cool. It's an honor to be able to work together.

 We want to spread the cocktail culture not only in bars but also in ordinary households by promoting high-quality Japanese-made bar tools to the world.

BAR TIMES: Thank you very much. It's a bit ticklish feeling, but I'm delighted. Finally, what kind of challenges would you like to take on as an ambassador in the future?

NAGAO: First and foremost, I want to introduce BAR TIMES STORE's bar tools to bartenders around the world and convey the high quality and craftsmanship of Japanese-made products. YouTube videos, for example, would be a great way to do that.

BAR TIMES: Yes, indeed. You have already appeared on YouTube, introducing the "Usuhari" glass, and the response from international viewers was amazing. We hope you will continue to promote Japanese bar tools to the world.

NAGAO: Additionally, I believe there is potential for collaborations with manufacturers and creators who work with various materials such as glass, metalworking, and woodworking. I think this can contribute to the further expansion of bar culture. While I'm still brainstorming ideas for what can be done, I'm sure we can create something exciting. Furthermore, I hope to see a cocktail culture not only in the bar industry but also in households. Just as there are catering services for flowers and food, cocktail catering is gradually becoming more popular. By providing opportunities for people to feel familiar with cocktails and bar tools at such occasions, they can enjoy cocktails at home and occasionally visit bars. As an ambassador for BAR TIMES STORE, I hope to contribute to the development of Japanese cocktail culture.

BAR TIMES: Absolutely. Thank you very much for today. It was enjoyable to hear various stories. We look forward to continuing our collaboration.


Mr. Nagao discusses his future activities as an ambassador.


Read the 1st Edition: 'Bartender Chapter'

Read the 2nd Edition: 'Vietnam Chapter'

Profile of Kazuaki Nagao