Interview with Satoshi Yonemori

satoshi at grapes and soda

Bartender | Grapes & Soda| Vancouver

Satoshi came to Vancouver from Kyoto, Japan where he grew up, first time arriving here when he was 16 to learn English for the summer, he then returned again after highschool when he was 18 to study more English for a year. In 2004, he returned to Vancouver and has been here ever since. Currently he is the Bar Manager of Grapes & Soda in South Granville.

You can follow Satoshi on Instagram @suiken3104

How did you end up becoming a Bartender?

I started barbacking at The Diamond when I was working as butcher at save on meats. I was lucky being able to barback beside great talents every weekend. A few months later Josh Pape got me a spot for bartending at Wildebeest.

Where did your love to become a Chef, Butcher begin before Bartending?

It came natural. Does not matter what I do, I always enjoy making stuff. I might have become a knife maker if my first job was blacksmith apprentice.

First I needed a job to make a living and stay in Canada so I started dishwashing at Feenie’s. I would come in a couple hours earlier than my shift and help them prep voluntarily. Without culinary school experience, it was necessity for me to get myself comfortable with how the real kitchen is run.

A couple months later, Chef at the time put me on the grill. It was busy. I was so green. Things got really messy sometimes but I somehow got the hang of it. Made it through a couple more stations. I met lots of people there who eventually became good friends and working together after Feenie’s closed.

I shifted to Boneta as a lunch cook and shortly after became chef de commis. I think this was when I truly started enjoying cooking. It was even more intense in their kitchen with much more volume. Higher technique and details were required. I really loved it. Four years passed so fast. I decided to leave there shortly after my Chef Jeremie left Boneta. I was looking for some new challenges.

Save On Meats was my new challenge where I would be butchering whole pig and use every part of its body part turning into sausages, headcheese, pate and etc. I tried out lots of recipes and put it out in our deli counter. Worked there for a year till I find a new challenge, bartending.

Tell our readers about mixing rums and other ingredients for your blend

I make a blend of rum in house, mostly dark rums. Right now my blend is Havana 7years, English Harbour, Gosling and Lemon Heart demerara in equal parts. I also make spiced rum with those blends as well. It comes handy when I need to add extra layers of flavour in my rum drink.

What are some of the unique cocktails your customers have asked you to make?

A tomato cocktail but not caeser nor bloody mary. I made her a tequila base drink with sungold tomato, basil, red wine vinegar, carrot juice, salt and pepper. She loved it.

How different is the bar culture where you grew up in Japan vs Vancouver?

The pace is a lot different. It is louder, faster and lively here. Most of the Japanese bars are very small and very quiet. In japan we rarely see a bar that seats more than 30. Hence the style differs. Tools that they use are different, such as a shaker. Three piece there, two pieces here. I personally prefer two pieces.

Drinks that customers look for are different.  What we drink here does not mean the drink is popular in the other side of globe.  There is hardly any egg white drink.

What goes into creating a new cocktail? What inspires you?

Seasonality. Thanks to Farmers Apprentice, I have an abundance of syrups and puree through-out the year depends on what is in season at that time. I will make my own syrup and puree. If they have some excessive on hand they want me to use, I would run and use it for a daily cocktail.

What is your philosophy on food and drinks?

Balance, less is more.

What are some of your favourite foods/dishes?

Offal in general.

Where do you get your inspiration to create your cocktails at Grapes & Soda?

Our walk-in fridge, dry storage where we keep various spices and tea selections from Namaste tea.

What type of drinks do you like personally?

Well-made whisky

If you weren’t a bartender, what would you be doing?

Knife maker, Glass maker

What are the most unique ingredients you have used to create a cocktail?

Vegetables like Snap pea, Beets, Carrot, Parsnip

What is your favourite cocktail personally?

Manhattan, Negroni and a good Singapore sling

By: Richard Wolak