Himitsu’s cocktail king vies for International Bartender of the Year title

Shingo Gokan of Himitsu is a finalist for a 2017 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award./Photo by Hyosub Shin.

If you’ve enjoyed the cocktails at Tokyo-style cocktail lounge Himitsu since it opened in the fall of 2015, you can credit, in part, its creative director Shingo Gokan. Now, Gokan is getting credit from the cocktail and spirits industries as he was named a 2017 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards finalist.

Gokan is one of four bartenders vying for the title of International Bartender of the Year. Also in contention for the honor are Erik Lorincz of The American Bar in London, Iain Griffiths of Dandelyan in London and Nico de Soto of Danico in Paris.

The winner will be announced July 22, during Tales of the Cocktail, the annual week-long cocktail conference held annually in New Orleans.

Spirited Awards recognize the contributions of professionals in the cocktail and spirits industries. The International Bartender of the Year title is awarded to an international bartender who has has had “the most influence and impact on drink styles and cocktail culture this year,” according to the Tales of the Cocktail website.

Nominees in the International Bartender of the Year category are judged on the innovation of their drink creations; personability, hospitality and generous spirit; technical, practical skills and knowledge; and international recognition of their work and personal recipes that have crossed borders and appeared on cocktail menus in other areas. In addition, nominees must work regularly behind a bar, working a minimum of two shifts weekly. The judging panel is comprised of a panel of 140 industry experts.

Gokan, who started his career in Tokyo in 2001, is currently the director for New York City speakeasy Angel’s Share. In 2014, he opened the speakeasy Speak Low in Shanghai, China. In 2015, the team behind Umi in Buckhead tapped him as creative director for their adjacent Japanese speakeasy concept Himitsu. Gokan has visited more than 30 countries across the world teaching a master class and guest bartending.

A complete list of Spirited Award finalists is posted here.

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