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Know Your Bartenders: Toshio Ueno

Photo for: Know Your Bartenders: Toshio Ueno

11/10/2023 Crafting Excellence in Spirits and Japanese Cuisine: Introducing the Visionary Toshio Ueno Shaping the Future of the Spirits Industry

Toshio Ueno is a renowned expert in the world of spirits and Japanese cuisine. He is the creator of the Sake School of America and the English Shochu Adviser Certificate program. Toshio holds an impressive array of qualifications, including the titles of Master of Sake, Master Sake Sommelier, and WSET Sake Educator, as well as a WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits.

Born into a family with a long history of cultivating Japanese wine grapes, Koshu, Toshio's early years were spent assisting in the family business. He later pursued higher education in the United States and worked at an international trading company in Tokyo before becoming the Director of Sales at Chateraise, a pastry and wine company. It was during his time there that he developed a keen interest in wine stewardship and research, particularly after overseeing the company president's wine collection.

In 2002, Toshio joined Mutual Trading Company, where he currently serves as the Director of the Sake Specialist Division, promoting Japanese foods, Sake, and Shochu to the American market. His passion and expertise in Sake, Shochu, and Wine have led him to champion Japanese food and beverage culture to international audiences.

Toshio's contributions to the industry have been recognized with numerous honors and awards, including the prestigious Sake Samurai title from the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association in 2016 and the Foreign Minister's Commendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 2023. He also holds leadership positions in various organizations related to wine and spirits education.

Where do you work?

Mutual Trading Co and Sake School of America

Image source: Toshio Ueno & The Sake School of America

Tell us something about yourself.

I am an International Drinks Specialist, Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador, an executive instructor at Sake School of America, Awamorijinbner Awamori Ambassador by Okinawa Distillery Association, the creator of a Certified Shochu Adviser course (the only one in the world), and recently awarded Foreign Minister's Commendation by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan, a board of director for Society of Wine Educators and SSI Japan, member of Circle of Wine Writers, Certified WSET Level 3 Spirits Educator, international spirits judge (IWSC, World Whiskey Masters, NYWSC, SFWSC, LVSC, CINVE, LAISC, TAG, ADI), and holds WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits. Work with many Japanese Government projects to promote Japanese Alcoholic drinks.

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What inspired you to get into bartending?

Not a bartender at this moment, but I see customers appreciate what I offer. Also, other bartenders, mixologists, and spirits professionals aiming to be better professionals are my inspiration.

What are some of the most important skills for a bartender to have?

Communication, Omotenashi mindset, salesmanship, time management, multitasking, knowledge of mixology and law.

What do you look for when you plan to buy spirits for your bar?

Quality versus value.

What support programs work best for you from suppliers?

Training and Education.

What cocktails and drinks trends do you see in 2024?

Premium Non-alcohol cocktails.

What's the best part of your job?

Meeting inspiring people.

A unique opportunity to present your spirits to America's top Bartenders. Final submission deadline is April 24, 2024. Enter Now.