A Grain of Memory

Mixologist Oliver Eardley returns to surprise our readers with an original cocktail that earned him the first place at a cocktail competition earlier this year.

This March, Oliver competed at his first London-based cocktail competition, taking home the title and first place at the UKBG x JSS Great Honkaku Shochu & Awamori Contest, winning himself a career development trip to Japan.

Honkaku Shochy and Awamori are two traditionally distilled spirits from Japan, with over five centuries of history embodying the nation’s culture. The UKBG partnered with the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association for incredibly inspiring seminars involving industry leaders, and a competition focussing on these two characterful and culturally important distilled spirits.

The seminars covered production, flavour profiles, cocktail inspiration and much more, promoting and sharing knowledge. The competition evolved around the Japanese philosophy of MA (pronounced ‘maah’), explained as the pure, essential void between all things – a total lack of clutter.

The contest looked to encourage competitors to strip away the unnecessary, to observe the space and time between flavours and ingredients, aiming to create a serene experience for guests. 

Oliver tells us about his interpretation of the brief and explains how he incorporated sustainable elements into his creation, A Grain of Memory. 


26-year-old Oliver Eardley grew up in the hospitality industry across the UK, first beginning work nine years ago. Starting out as a food runner, he progressed through multiple roles from server, bartender and bar manager, to group bar trainer in several bars and restaurants.

Having found his passion for drinks and having honed his skills, Oliver relocated to London in October 2021, eventually landing a job at the American Bar in The Savoy Hotel. During his time at the hotel, Oliver has also worked at the Beaufort Bar and took part in a Secondment within the hotel’s T&C Department as a Training Consultant, helping to create Internal Forbes and LQA training for his colleagues.

As of May, he is Bar Supervisor of The Glade at the iconic Sketch, and he tells us there are some interesting plans for him at the horizon… We look forward to seeing where he’s going!

“The contest looked to encourage competitors to strip away the unnecessary.”


A Grain of Memory is an expression of the production processes surrounding Japanes spirits. Oliver chose to incorporate local sake products by using the Kanpai Brewery’s rice koji and sake kasu; he then fermented his own amazake using the rice koji and Thai Jasmine rice to create an amazake that would be related by rice origin to Awamori. 

In the spirit of sustainability, Oliver came up with an edible garnish: a coral tuile from sake kasu.

Oliver says: “The drink is designed to invoke the memory of when a person first discovered these great products, bringing an aspect of MA into the cocktail – whether it’s reminiscent of a sake brewery, a childhood memory of eating amazake, or the first time they went to a tasting.”

A Grain of Memory takes inspiration from classic cocktails, such as the Adonis and the Bamboo, particularly the element of combining spirits with vermouth, sherry and bitters. Oliver’s bartending style is dedicated to pay homage to the origins of our industry, and the great literary works of the 19th and early 20th century. He was able to combine the competition requirements with his creativity and took up the challenge of focussing on minimal ingredients to achieve balance in the drink. 


GLASS: Fleur glass tumbler (10.25oz)


 45ml ‘Kusu’ Awamori (Mild Mizuho 5 Years)

45ml Martini Ambrato

20ml home-made Jasmin rice amazake

4 dashes of Japanese SHISO Bitters

GARNISH: sake kasu coral tuile

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