An interview with Yusuke Ono ahead of the Roadhouse Asian Open

The next Roadhouse Flair Heat is nearly upon us and it is time for the return of the Asian Open on March 26th. A very popular Roadhouse heat in London, the Asian Open draws large crowds of people from across the cosmopolitan capital and well as around the world. Many of the competitors taking part in the Asian Open will be travelling half way around the world from countries such as Japan and Singapore and of course as a Roadhouse heat £1000 will be up for grabs between the top 3, as well as a spot in the Roadhouse World Finals in November – where £10,000 will be up for grabs.

Ahead of the Asian Open we spoke with one of the competitors who will be travelling over from Mie, Japan – Yusuke Ono:

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What do you love most about the Roadhouse flair competitions?

“I couldn’t go without competing in at least one Roadhouse flair bartending event each year, it is almost necessary for me – I look forward to it each year so much. You get such a great high and motivation from performing on that stage and in turn that really allows you to enjoy your flair bartending. I think the most important thing for any flair bartender is to make sure you are enjoying your routine and what you do.

The Roadhouse is an incredibly important competition to the flair bartenders in Asia, as I am sure also elsewhere in the world. The fact that it attracts flair bartenders to compete from around the world makes you feel as if you are entering into the hardest and most important flair competition on the Earth – it is very challenging, and I love a challenge! If you can win the Roadhouse World Finals you can certainly call yourself the best flair bartender in the world and what flair bartender wouldn’t want that?

The crowd, the atmosphere and the other competitors make it such an exciting place to perform. Each year with the Asian Open myself and other flair bartenders from this part of the world are given a great chance to try and nail down a place in the Roadhouse World Finals and as a result we have a chance to go for that World Title!”

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What are your thoughts on the Asian Open?

“I think the Asian Open is probably the most important flair competition of the year for me as, like I said, it is probably my one and only chance to get that place in the World Finals. It is only once a year this happens and the World Flair Association are the only flair association in the world who put on a competition of this nature specifically for flair bartenders from the Asian continent.

So when this chance arises you have to be ready to take it with both hands and perform well. I will personally be bringing some new moves, using some of my favourite bar tools including ‘the masu’ (a Japanese wooden measure cup), the masher and of course garnish. My routine will be heavily influenced by Japanese culture and heritage and I am very proud to design my sequence in that way. As well as using some Japanese bar tools, I will also be performing to a classical Japanese melody, performing some acrobatic moves on stage inspired by the samurais and ninjas of a time gone – all of which will encompass and demonstrate ‘bushido’ (Japanese spirit)”.

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What is the current state of flair bartending in Asia and how has it developed?

“Flair bartending on the Asian continent still has a long way to go to catch up with the European and American continents, however there is a steady movement growing – particularly across Japan and Singapore. Over the last 5 years flair bartending has really grown in popularity and I hope to see it grow and go from strength to strength in the future. In Japan we have a TV programme devoted to flair bartending which is really helping raise awareness of what flair bartending is to those who haven’t come across this art before.

We have two quite large and successful flair competitions in Japan in the form of Ultimate World Flair and the Love HITA cocktail competition, both of which I have competed in over the years.”

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Do you have a favourite bar tool?

“My favourite bar tool to use in Japan is the measure cup, you can do so many things with it and it has many uses. In particular I like the specialised Japanese square wooden measure cup – ‘the masu’ – which I will be bringing with me to the Roadhouse! I also really enjoy to use a bar spoon”

Available from the WFA online store:

As well as bar tools I also really enjoy to use garnish and do something special and interesting with it. In particular I like to use lemons and limes as I find I can create some really beautiful and interesting structures with them. I want to try and create a garnish at the Roadhouse Asian Open that really reflects Japanese culture as well. Alongside my Japanese melody, Japanese cocktail, bar tools and nods to Japanese heritage in my routine – I am almost using Japanese culture as my weapon to differentiate myself from the other flair bartenders in the competition. Be prepared for a fantastic Japanese story on March 26th”.

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