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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Denki Bran – History, Ways to Enjoy, Lineup, Restaurants


Have you ever heard of Denki Bran? Today, we are going to explore this unique and intriguing drink associated with the founder of Kamiya Bar in Asakusa, Tokyo. Join us on a journey to discover the distinct flavors and the fascinating story behind this cocktail. Stay tuned for the definition and history in the next section!

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What is Denki Bran?

Denki Bran is a brandy-based cocktail that originated during the Meiji Era when electricity was considered a novelty. Similar to the trends like “Bunka (culture)” during the Taisho Era and the later rise of terms like “Digital,” “Cybe,” and “e-” with the advent of the internet, the name “Denki (electricity)” was fashionable as a modern moniker for cutting-edge things. Combining “electric” with brandy’s “bran” resulted in the cocktail’s name. Initially called “Denki Brandy,” it was later changed due to not being brandy.

With an alcohol content of 45% at the time, it gained popularity as a vibrant drink due to its tingling sensation reminiscent of electricity. The drink contains brandy, gin, wine, curaçao, and various herbs, with detailed ingredient ratios remaining a trade secret. Joint Spirits Co., a subsidiary of Oenon Holdings, continues its production and sales. Despite the historical context, the Highballs have become popular in Tokyo eateries and izakayas amid the 2010s Highball trend, with two variations: 30% and the Old (40%).

History

Denki Bran 40%
出典 : wikimedia

Launch of a Brandy-like Spirits

In 1882, the visionary Denbei Kamiya ventured into the production of brandy-like spirits using imported pure alcohol. The concoction gained popularity due to rumors of its efficacy in preventing cholera. This success laid the groundwork for the creation of Denki Bran.

First-Generation

Around 1893, Denki Bran (originally sold as Denki Brandy) emerged, boasting a 45% alcohol content. This innovative blend included imported brandy for medicinal use, wine, gin, vermouth, and other alcoholic beverages. The drink became a staple at KAMIYA BAR and found its way into literary works, captivating a diverse audience.

Founding of Kamiya Bar

In 1880, Denbei Kamiya opened Japan’s first bar, Kamiya Bar, in Tokyo’s Asakusa district. Over 140 years later, it remains a tangible cultural property, deeply entwined with Asakusa’s heritage. The bar stands as a testament to Denbei’s foresight in introducing Western culture to post-Meiji Restoration Japan.

Transition to Denki Bran (30%)

Around 1958, the alcohol percentage underwent a reduction from 45% to 30%, while retaining the characteristic vermouth flavor that had become synonymous with Denki Bran.

Introduction of Denki Bran (Old) (40%)

In 1983, Denki Bran (Old) was unveiled, featuring the original label design and reinstating the alcohol content to 40%. The secret blend crafted since 1893 continues to delight patrons at KAMIYA BAR in Asakusa and various establishments, marking a lasting legacy in the world of spirits.

Recommended ways to enjoy

Oenon Museum Denki Bran
出典: wikimedia

Since about 1893, people have been enjoying it in various ways like straight, on the rocks, and in different mixes. Here’s how you can savor it:

Straight

Chill it, pour it in a small glass, and take your time enjoying it. Some like to drink it straight with beer as a chaser to mellow out the alcohol. Feel the comfortable “tingle.”

On the rocks

Put big ice cubes in a glass, slowly pour Denki Bran, and as the ice melts, enjoy the “tingle” turning into a gentle sweetness. You can enjoy it in many ways.

Highball

Ice up a glass, pour in Denki Bran, add soda gently, stir slowly, and top it with a lemon slice. Savor the deep, floral notes unique to this cocktail.

Recommended ratios:
Denki Bran 40%: soda = 1:4
Denki Bran 30%: soda = 1:3

With Cola

Ice up a glass, pour in wine, and top it gently with cola. Stir slowly. The cola’s flavor blends well with Denki Bran’s bouquet.

Recommended ratios:
40% cola = 1:4
30% cola = 1:3

With Ginger ale

Ice up a glass, add wine, and slowly pour in ginger ale. Stir slowly and top it with a lemon slice. The ginger ale’s sweetness complements Denki Bran’s floral bouquet.

Recommended ratios:
40% ginger ale= 1:4
30%: ginger ale = 1:3

In Black tea

Stir a tablespoon of Denki Bran into black tea and enjoy. Experience the deep, floral bouquet enhancing the tea’s flavor on your palate.

出典:https://www.oenon.jp/denkibran/

Cultural References and Influences

denki bran served in cup

In the novel “No Longer Human,” writer Osamu Dazai states, “I guarantee that nothing surpasses Denki Bran in the speed of intoxication…”

In the novels “Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome” and “Uchouten Kazoku” by author Tomihiko Morimi, there’s a fake Denki Bran, an imitation of Denki Bran. The shot bar “bar moonwalk,” with nationwide presence, collaborates with “Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome” to sell cocktails inspired by the fictional fake Denki Bran.

Published in 1985, Masumi Sudo’s manga short story collection includes “Denki Bran” (published by Tokyo Sanseisha). Interestingly, there’s no description of this liquor within the stories. The later edition from Takeshobo uses the new font and is titled “Denki Bran.”

Denki Bran FAQ

How does Denki Bran continue to maintain its original blend since 1893, and where can enthusiasts experience it today?

Denki Bran (Old) was launched in 1983, featuring the original label design and restoring the alcohol percentage to 40%. The secret blend crafted since 1893 remains intact, providing enthusiasts with the authentic Denki Bran experience, available at KAMIYA BAR in Asakusa and various locations.

Can you provide tips on creating the perfect Denki Bran Highball or suggest unique pairings that complement its distinctive floral bouquet?

Crafting a perfect Denki Bran Highball involves the right balance. Experiment with ratios and explore pairings like citrus or herbs to enhance its floral notes for a refreshing twist!

Denki Bran Line-up

Denki Bran 40%

Denki Bran 40%
出典:https://www.oenon.jp/denkibran/
Denki Bran 40% 720ml
Volume 720 ml
Container Bottle
Reference Retail Price (excluding tax) ¥1,115
Packaging Carton
Quantity per case 12 bottles
Denki Bran 40% 360ml
Volume 360 ml
Container Bottle
Reference Retail Price (excluding tax) ¥681
Packaging Carton
Quantity per case 24 bottles

Denki Bran 30%

Denki Bran 30%
出典:https://www.oenon.jp/denkibran/
Denki Bran 30% 720ml
Volume 720 ml
Container Bottle
Reference Retail Price (excluding tax) ¥943
Packaging Carton
Quantity per case 12 bottles
Denki Bran 30% 1,800ml
Volume 1,800 ml
Container Bottle
Reference Retail Price (excluding tax) ¥1,983
Packaging Carton
Quantity per case 6 bottles

Recommended Restaurants/ Stores

Kamiya Bar (神谷バー)

Kamiya Bar entrance

Denki Bran, a blend of brandy, gin, wine, Curaçao, and secret herbs, is crafted with a closely guarded formula. Originating from the iconic Kamiya Bar, two varieties are available: “Denki Bran” (¥300) and “Denki Bran Old” (¥400).

The classic presents a cocktail with pronounced sweetness, lowering the alcohol content to 30 degrees for a vibrant aroma. On the other hand, the old version is a revival with 40 degrees of alcohol, offering a robust experience—approach with caution if you’re new to it. For those seeking a casual taste, the “Denki Bran Sour” (¥550) is recommended. The sweet notes harmonize with the tanginess of lemon, creating a delightful and easy-to-sip concoction.

Address: 1 Chome-1-1 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo
Phone number: +81338615400
Business hours: 11:00~21:00(L.O.20:30)
Website: http://www.kamiya-bar.com

Kamiya Restaurant (レストランカミヤ)

The Kamiya Building houses “Kamiya Bar” on the first floor, “Restaurant Kamiya” on the second floor, and “Kappo Kamiya” on the third floor (currently closed as of December 2022).

“Restaurant Kamiya” offers Western dishes like “Crab Croquette,” “Hamburger Steak,” and “Pudding à la Mode.” It’s a delightful spot for Asakusa lunches or dinners.

Address: 1 Chome−1−1 神谷ビル, Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo
Phone number: +81338615400
Business hours: 11:00~21:00(L.O.20:30)
Website: http://www.kamiya-bar.com

Takeaway

Denki Bran, a timeless Japanese liqueur, originated in 1893 and remains a symbol of Asakusa. Developed by Denbei Kamiya, its recipe remains a closely guarded secret. With a warm amber hue, it captivates with subtle sweetness and a distinctive tingling sensation. Available in 40% and 30% alcohol versions, it is enjoyed straight, on the rocks, or in various cocktails. Kamiya Bar, the birthplace, still offers the original charm, making this masterpiece a revered part of Tokyo’s heritage. So, if you have a chance, let’s visit Kamiya Bar!

You can see more about Japanese drinks here or check out below!

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