Nick’s Nippon Notebook: Denki Bran in a Can

Posted by Guest Author on Dec 12, 2007 in Hobbies and Collections |

Denki Bran in a Can

Japanese convenience stores almost always carry a small selection of cocktails in a can. Occasionally something more unusual than a Mojito or a Fuzzy Navel can be found in at one. I discovered a seemingly family run convenience store somewhere in Kansai selling Denki Bran in a can which featured a retro design with an old Japanese city photo.

“Denki” I know means “Electric” only adding to the mystery. “Bran” I guess could mean something leading to regularity. At first worried it might be healthfully un-tasty, like the Korean wheat flavored soda I once had. After tasting some it was clear that “Bran” was short for brandy. But what about the electric part?

It turns out Denki Bran was a mixed drink popularized in the late Meiji era sometime around the turn of the 20th Century. It’s unique twist is that traditionally an electrical current is passed through it. Exactly what effect that has is unknown to me, as is proving it has actually been electrified. Unless of course the procedure is done in front of you like some sort of science experiment. Fortunately I don’t think anyone is expected to drink it while still plugged in.

In the context of the original era, it’s said that many new products added “denki” to their names to be buzzworthy. More specifically, electric lighting allowed newly introduced Western Style bars to stay open long past dark, so in a way Denki Bran was a celebration of the modern new era.

Nick Kent is a New York based artist who works with electronic media and is an occasional pop culture pundit.

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