"Sip and Guzzle" was born from bartender extraordinaire Shingo Ushimaki's vision of the ideal glassware. Pursuing original glass designs began in 2019 under the leadership of Shingo, who helms the "SG Group" and continually creates cocktails. From the outset, the group's nine bars, both domestically and internationally, utilized original glassware, fully appreciating its convenience and functionality.
Yutaro Kimura, serving as the Managing Director of the over 100-year-old glass manufacturer, "Kimura Glass Co.," brought Shingo's ideal glass concept to life. As one of the designers involved in the production of "Sip and Guzzle," he draws upon his exceptional skills honed through crafting over 200 types of cocktail glasses, making the brand truly unique in the world.The two were asked about the intentions behind the creation of the original glassware.
Gokan:Our first bar, "Speak Low," located in Shanghai, China, has a unique design where the ground floor serves as a boutique shop called "OCHO," and by opening a hidden door inside the shop, one can access a secret bar. When we attempted to use Japanese-made glasses for both the shop's display and the bar, the prices turned out to be exceedingly high. Meanwhile, local imitations of "Kimura Glass Co." products were circulating in the market, sold at less than one-tenth of the price, and cocktail glasses were available for about one-sixteenth of the cost. We couldn't compete with such prices. As a result, I consulted with Yutaro about the issue.
Kimura: In the local market, there was even a copy brand called "Kimura Style." At first, I jokingly considered making counterfeit versions of my own shop's glasses. However, I thought it might be a good opportunity to create something new together with the SG Group. I asked Shingo about his vision, and I took charge of selecting a glass factory in China and worked on the detailed designs from there.
For bartenders, it should be 'user-friendly,' and for drinkers, it should be 'stylish.' Plus, it should be stackable."
What kind of glassware did you aim for?
Gokan: Drawing from the perspective of a bartender who gained experience overseas and returned to Japan, we pursued usability and uniqueness. Take, for example, the Martini glass. There are countless Martini glasses in the world, but our ultimate goal was to make the act of drinking a Martini look as cool as possible. Who looks the coolest while drinking a Martini? James Bond, right? When you observe him closely, he doesn't hold the stem of the glass; instead, he holds the rim while sipping. Considering that the Martini has a rugged and masculine image, it's surprising that many of the glasses available are quite feminine. So, we thought, why not design something to address that?
Furthermore, we often pair cocktails with food, and glasses with shorter stems are undoubtedly more balanced when matched with dishes. They also look stunning, especially in photographs. Additionally, being thin while still stackable is a significant advantage. Many establishments have limited space, so the ability to stack and store them together or even place them on the washing area makes them very convenient operationally.
For bartenders, it's user-friendly; for drinkers, it's stylish; and for bars, it allows cocktails' individuality to shine while being reasonably priced. Moreover, the stacking feature makes it a unique glass compared to anything before.
Kimura: We aimed to prioritize the usability that bartenders seek, ensuring a moderate depth that allows for easy placement of cocktail pins and other accessories. Also, we considered the capacity, targeting a size of around 5 ounces (approximately 150ml) to encourage customers to enjoy their drinks fully.
Gokan: After our discussions, Yutaro provided numerous samples. All of them were exceptional, resulting in over 100 types of glass designs. This release only represents a small fraction of what we have.
Kimura: The manufacturing is done by a hand-blown glass factory in China, and the factory I've been working with is quite skilled. Nowadays, with electric glass melting furnaces, the temperature control and maintenance have improved, leading to better surface finish of the glass. While "Kimura Glass Co." has similar designs, we redesigned them intentionally by adding thickness to the bottom. Considering that production, inventory, and sales will be predominantly in China, it's essential to avoid forcing the creation of challenging designs that may lead to poor yields. Therefore, we put great effort into these subtle redesigns throughout the process.
Is there any glassware that you have a particular attachment to?
Gokan: I would say the "Nick & Nora" glass. It's not very familiar in Japan, but in the United States, it's a classic, alongside Martini and coupe glasses. While it's user-friendly, it tends to look somewhat awkward when you see it in Japan. So, I requested a design that maintains the unique features of the "Nick & Nora" glass while making it look cool. It can hold a considerable amount of liquid, so you can pour generous cocktails in a Martini glass style, and it's also suitable for cocktails with layers, like those that use egg whites. You can even enjoy it with a single ice cube for a slow sipping style. Regardless of where the liquid settles inside the glass, it always looks stylish.
Creating the perfect blend of cocktail glassware, combining the best elements from both overseas and Japan, to set a new global standard.
What are your thoughts now that the original glassware is completed?
Gokan: Since we designed it ourselves, there's nothing more user-friendly than this. It's different from the conventional cocktail glasses used overseas and domestically. Our bars are more influenced by the overseas style, but using American glasses directly in Japan feels quite awkward. The thickness, size, and shape often don't look cool here. So, we settled on glassware that is incredibly thin yet reasonably durable, and it looks stylish even in Japan. Even when the design is somewhat similar to others, the slight adjustments make it stand out from the rest.
Kimura: As for the bar glasses, my father, who is the president, has been passionately involved in this area for a long time. Personally, I haven't been heavily involved in it until now, but trying this new challenge, I think we've done an excellent job. It's neither flashy nor excessively solid. It fits right in the middle as a standard zone.
Shingo: Exactly. It's user-friendly and has a recognizable silhouette that says "Sip & Guzzle" at a glance. We plan to expand sales to Europe in the future. Our goal is to make it a standard glass for bars worldwide, regardless of the country.
Representative of SG Group and one of the most prominent bartenders in the bar industry worldwide. In 2006, he moved to the United States and served as the head bartender at the renowned bar, Angel's Share, in New York. In 2012, he participated in the world's largest cocktail competition, Bacardi Legacy, as the American representative and won the global championship.
In 2014, he opened Speak Low in Shanghai. Since then, he has continuously opened new concept bars and currently operates 10 establishments both domestically and internationally. He has received a record-breaking 42 awards at World's/Asia's Best Bars.
In 2017, he was honored with the Tales of the Cocktail International Bartender of the Year, often referred to as the "Academy Awards of the bar industry." In 2019, he received the Bartender's Bartender award at Asia's 50 Best and the Industry Icon Award in 2021, which recognizes individuals who symbolize the bar industry.
He was ranked 4th in BAR WORLD 100 2021, a list of "The Most Influential 100 People in the Bar Industry" selected by a British magazine, making him the top figure in Asia.
Glass designer and Executive Managing Director of "Kimura Glass Shop," a leading glass manufacturer representing Japan. A specialist in glassware that combines innovative ideas with traditional values. For over 100 years, Kimura Glass Shop has been providing high-quality glassware to Japan's major restaurants and hotels. The fourth generation, Yutaro Kimura, continues to pursue beautiful designs, creating numerous original glass pieces.
Their collection, which is simple yet captivating, contributes to expanding the creative possibilities for bartenders, chefs, and baristas, inspiring them to reach new heights in their expressions.
Interviewer's Profile - Yumiko Numa
Yumiko Numa is a writer and editor with a passion for both brewed and distilled alcoholic beverages. Bar hopping is not just a hobby for her but a lifelong pursuit. She has authored the book "Onna Hitori, Tokidoki Futari Nomimai" (Single Woman, Sometimes Two Drinks) published by Kotsu Shimbunsha. Her contributions to writing and editing include "Yomihon Honkaku Shochu." and editing "Kamabayashi-sensei no Asakusa Annai (Mikan)" (both published by President Sha), among others.
The VanDyke series presents the most user-friendly cocktail glasses crafted by the top bartenders of SG Group.
Among the most commonly used glasses in bars worldwide, the "Nick & Nora" glass underwent a fresh redesign. The "VanDyke 5oz N/N" glass features a slight curvature, allowing for an exquisite balance in the final presentation, whether it's filled with a small amount of liquid, three-quarters full, or a precise brimful. Its versatility makes it suitable for a wide range of cocktails, such as Daiquiris, Manhattans, Whiskey Sours, and more, whether stirred or shaken.
The "VanDyke 5oz Cocktail" glass showcases the distinctive outward-spreading design typical of VanDyke. As a result, when sipping the cocktail, the liquid directly reaches the tip of the tongue, offering a unique approach compared to the traditional coupe glass. This feature makes it a perfect fit not only for champagne but also for various other cocktails.
The "VanDyke 5oz Coupe" glass, with its designer Yutaro Kimura's keen attention to detail, boasts a slightly inward-curved mouth, creating an elegant shape line that sets it apart from standard coupe glasses. This design ensures that the cocktail meets the center of the tongue when sipped, providing a distinct drinking experience.
A short-stemmed Martini glass inspired by the traditional Japanese sake cup, known as "sakazuki."
Unlike typical stemmed glasses, such as wine glasses or cocktail glasses, where the stem is usually held, we have discarded that concept. Instead, we designed this glass with the idea of embracing the freedom to hold (grasp) the rim of the glass like a sake cup when enjoying the drink. This design encourages a unique drinking experience.
Named "Kasa" due to its umbrella-flipped shape, this glass is not only perfect for drinks but also versatile for use in plating dishes and more.
tanto bello Series
Introducing the "Tanto Bello" series, a slight modification of the beloved Bello series from Kimura Glass Co., retaining its easy-to-hold shape while making it even more manageable for busy bars and restaurants.
The "Tanto Bello D.O.F" is designed as a double old fashioned (D.O.F) glass, suitable for serving on the rocks, cocktails, whiskey on the rocks, and even for brewing tea, presenting a versatile option.
On the other hand, the "Tanto Bello TL" serves as a tumbler glass, perfect for a wide range of occasions, including cocktails, highballs, beer, iced coffee, and more.
The Nautilus series draws inspiration from Kimura Glass Co.'s Cava series, featuring a slender and elegant shape. It inherits the characteristic moderate size and delicate stem of the Japanese style, while incorporating an exquisitely designed rounded bottom and tapered mouth.
The tulip-shaped glass not only allows aromas to blossom and linger but also enhances the fragrance even when pouring and swirling the drink.
Nemo is designed with a lower height compared to typical cocktail glasses, making it ideal not only for cocktails but also for enjoying Japanese sake.
Furthermore, the slightly outward-spreading mouth allows the drink to interact with the air, providing a natural aroma rather than trapping the fragrance inside the glass as in the case of glasses designed to lock in scents.
This glass embodies a simple way of enjoying Japanese sake, allowing you to savor the goodness of the material itself.