|Born||14, February 1983|
Shingo Gokan (後閑信吾; born 14, February 1983) is a Japanese bartender and bar entrepreneur. He serves as company representative of SG Management LCC. (New York City, USA), SG Management (Tokyo, Japan), Fivesenses Inc. (Tokyo, Japan), and Shanghai Gokan Co., Ltd. (Shanghai, China), and manages operations for his bars Speak Low, Sober Company, The Odd Couple, The SG Club, and SG LOW.
Gokan started his bartending career in 2001 at bar potluck in Kawasaki City, where he resided for three years. He decided to travel to the U.S. to pursue his bartending career after encouragement to do so from regulars at the bar who highly rated his talent.
Gokan’s life in the U.S. began with him working under a Japanese chef residing in New York, who had been introduced to him by an acquaintance. Shortly after, he applied for a bartending position at Angel’s Share, but was quickly rejected as he couldn’t speak any English at the time. Meanwhile, he worked at a Japanese restaurant bar, where he was appointed as head bartender. After six months, the manager of Angel’s Share approached Gokan with a job offer. Later, Gokan was promoted to manager, and then became head bartender and director at Angel’s Share.
At 27 years old, he participated in the first Bacardí Legacy Cocktail Competition held in 2011, and placed 3rd out of the 26 individuals in the New York City regionals. In 2012, he once again participated in the Bacardí Legacy Global Cocktail Competition. After placing first at the U.S. nationals, he won the international competition with his signature cocktail, Speak Low, which is a cocktail of Japanese matcha, rum, and sherry.
In August 2012, he was invited to the American Bar located at Savoy Hotel|The Savoy hotel, as the first guest bartender in the 120 years since the bar’s establishment in 1889.
In October 2015, Gokan was appointed creative director of Himitsu, an invitation-only Japanese craft cocktail lounge in Atlanta.
In June 2014, Gokan opened his first bar Speak Low, with bar tool shop OCHO in Shanghai, China.
In February 2017, he opened Sober Company in Shanghai.
In June 2018, Gokan opened The SG Club in the Shibuya ward in Tokyo, Japan.
In November 2018, Gokan opened The Odd Couple in Shanghai, China.
In February 2021, Gokan opened SG LOW in the Shibuya ward in Tokyo, Japan.
Style, cocktails and influences
Gokan observed similarities between bartending and Japanese tea ceremony|sadō, which prompted him to study Sekishu-style sadō. He felt that hospitality in bartending, “omotenashi” in traditional Japanese tea practice, as well as the notion of pursuing beauty through detail, were common themes between these two fields. While mastering the study of traditional Japanese tea ceremony, he pursued his study on sherry by receiving instruction from the owner of Sherry Museum (Koya Nakase; 中瀬航也) located in Ginza, Tokyo. He then traveled to Spain to take an examination for a sherry sommelier certification called Venenciador, and was the fifth Japanese person to pass the examination.
Speak Low, Gokan’s signature cocktail which won the Bacardí Legacy Cocktail Competition in 2012, uses a generous portion of matcha powder from Japan whisked with rum using a chasen (a tool traditionally used in a Japanese tea ceremony), and finishes the cocktial with sherry that has flavors resembling kuromitsu.
Gokan has coached and advised the following title-holding bartenders:
- Faye Chen, Bacardí Legacy Cocktail Competition 2015 China Champion.
- GN Chan, Bacardí Legacy Cocktail Competition 2016 Global Champion.
- Janson Chan, Beefeater MIXLDN 2015 China Champion.
- Ben Rojo, Chivas Regal|Chivas Masters 2016 U.S. Champion.
- Atsushi Suzuki, Chivas Masters 2017 Global Champion.
- Kazuhisa Arai, Jameson Bartenders' Ball 2016 Global Champion.
- Bacardí Legacy Cocktail Competition 2011 New York City regionals, 3rd place.
- Bacardí Legacy Cocktail Competition 2012, Global Champion.
- Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards 2017, International Bartender of the Year.
- Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019, Altos Bartenders’ Bartender.
- Bar World 100 2019 Most Influential Figures, 14th place.
- Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021, Roku Industry Icon.
- Bar World 100 2021 Most Influential Figures, 4th Place.
Awards by Bars
- Best Cocktail Bar, Best New Bar in Shanghai 2014, 2015
- Asia's 50 Best Bars 2016, 2nd place.
- The World's Best Bars 2016, 15th place.
- Asia's 50 Best Bars 2017, 2nd place.
- The World's Best Bars 2017, 10th place.
- Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2017, 19th place.
- The World’s 50 Best Bars, 42nd place.
- Tales of the Cocktail 2020, Best International Restaurant Bar.
- Asia's 50 Best Bars 2021, 5th place.
The SG Club
- Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2020, 9th place / The Best Bar in Japan sponsored by Nikka Whisky Distilling.
- The World’s 50 Best Bars 2020, 10th place.
- Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021, 3rd place / The Best Bar in Japan.
In a special episode of the television series, Iron Chef America, Gokan teamed up with Japanese Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and won against Bobby Flay.
- "後閑信吾 - 江戸時代にアメリカに渡った侍達が帰国してオープンしたことを想像して作ったバー「The SG Club」を渋谷にオープン". High Flyers (website) (in 日本語). Retrieved 2021-07-12.
- ny1page (2012-04-07). "カクテル世界大会で１位に輝いた後閑信吾さん". NY1Page (in 日本語). Retrieved 2021-09-06.
- "United States Bartender Shingo Gokan is Winner in Second Annual BACARDI® Global Legacy Cocktail Competition". PR Newswire. 1 March 2012. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
- "Shingo Gokan guest bartending at Blue Bar". Time Out Hong Kong. Retrieved 2021-09-06.
- "Shingo Gokan is New Creative Director at Umi's Himitsu Lounge". Restaurant Informer. 2015-04-14. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
- ""世界一"の抹茶カクテル The SG ClubのSpeak Low | Article". Chagocoro 文化をインスパイアするお茶メディア (in 日本語). Retrieved 2021-09-10.
- "Your Weekend Cocktail: Speak Low". Barchive. 2018-11-09. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
- "The DRiNK Magazine Face: Faye Chen". Drink Magazine. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
- "US bartender wins Bacardi Legacy 2016". Spirits Business. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
- "The Finalists In Beefeater's Mega Global Gin Competition: MIXLDN". Barchick. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
- "世界チャンピオン 鈴木敦氏が語る ザ・シーバス マスターズ2017". Bar Times バーをこよなく愛す、バーファンのためのWEBマガジン (in 日本語). Retrieved 2021-07-12.
- "日本代表バーテンダー 新井和久氏が世界大会で優勝 カクテル技術と情熱で世界を魅了". Bar Times バーをこよなく愛す、バーファンのためのWEBマガジン (in 日本語). Retrieved 2021-07-12.
- "United States Bartender Shingo Gokan is Winner in Second Annual BACARDI® Global Legacy Cocktail Competition". PR Newswire. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
- "Spirited Awards® Archive". Tales of the Cocktail. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
- "Mancino Bartenders' Bartender Award 2021". 50 Best. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
- Sansom, Mark (30 June 2020). "Shingo Gokan is grounded – meet the world's most successful bar owner". 50 Best. Retrieved 2021-09-12.
- "Roku Industry Icon Award 2021". 50 Best. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
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