At Tokyo’s Best Bars

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FOOD: At Tokyo’s Best Bars

After first touching down in Tokyo it’s tricky to know where to turn first. So avoid getting mesmerised by the bright neon lights and head to some of the city’s best watering holes, where a perfectly prepped glass of your favourite tipple, served with a Japanese twist, awaits.

Read on for five of Tokyo’s very best bars.


For carefully selected craft beers: Mikkeller Tokyo

Tokyo’s craft beer scene is booming, and the latest posh pub to offer Tokyoites a host of speciality brews has found a new home in Shibuya’s Hyakkendana district. Having been forced to close his original Tomigaya outpost, Danish craft beer guru Mikkel Borg Bjergso went back to the drawing board, and in 2017 found a new spot, nestled in the backstreets of Shibuya’s famed Love Hotel Hill. Twenty carefully selected beers on tap offer the chance to sample Bjergso’s own artisanal brews, as well as guest beers from local breweries. A stripped-back interior designed by architect Yusuke Seki and a menu offering Danish-style smørrebrød open sandwiches makes Mikkeller the perfect pit-stop – Discover Scandinavian flair in the heart of Tokyo.

Mikkeller Tokyo: 2-19-11 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


For hard-to-find natural wines: Ahiru Store

With daily queues of fervent customers eagerly awaiting Ahiru Store’s 6pm opening, Tomigaya’s cosy natural wine bar is one of Tokyo’s worst-kept secrets. A favourite amongst locals and a hit with visitors, Ahiru Store is a small but perfectly formed Shibuya bolthole run by sibling duo Teruhiko and Wakako Saito. Sommelier Teruhiko serves a rotating selection of hard-to-find natural wines (predominantly French), whilst sister Wakako takes care of the food – rustic fare including chunky salads, soups, pates and home-baked bread. But with only eight counter seats and a couple of empty barrels functioning as tables, you’d best join that queue if you want a spot in Tokyo’s favourite wine bar.

Ahiru Store: 1-19-4, Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


If it’s sake you’re after: Yata

You’re in Japan, so what better way to get into the spirit of things than by sampling a glass of sake, and if you’re unsure where to start, Yata has you covered. With three Tokyo locations, in Shibuya, Shinjuku and Kanda, Yata is a laidback standing-style bar specialising in Junmai (pure rice-wine) sake. The extensive menu changes daily and at ¥500 for a sizeable pour, you can quickly hone in on a personal favourite. The knowledgeable bar staff are happy to help and for the indecisive there’s a tasting flight, allowing you to sample a variety of blends – all the sake you could ask for in an hour for just ¥2,000. Simple bar snacks are on hand to amplify the umami and shelves of small-batch shoyu (soy sauce) from across Japan are available to sample freely.

Yata Shibuya: ILA Dougenzaka Building 5F, 1-6 Dougenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


A mecca for whisky buffs: Zoetrope

Whisky enthusiasts bound for Tokyo should look no further than Zoetrope. With an extensive library of whiskies and a proprietor who knows everything there is to know about Japanese whisky, it’s the perfect place to sample Japan’s best blends. Tucked away on a Nishi-Shinjuku backstreet, Zoetrope is a cosy, dimly lit bar where owner Atsushi Horigami fuses his two great loves – whisky and cinema. Silent black-and-white films play in the background whilst Horigami enlightens customers on the provenance of rare bottlings, and as a home for his 300-plus domestic whisky collection, Horigami enlisted the late Takeo Kimura – a legendary art director in the world of Japanese film – to design the bar’s interior.

Zoetrope: 3F, 7-10-14 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo


For creative cocktails: Code Name Mixology

Finally, for those in search of cocktails with flair, Code Name Mixology serves up Tokyo’s most creative concoctions. Part bar, part laboratory, Nagumo’s cocktails are not just shaken or stirred, but evaporated, dehydrated or vacuum wrapped by mixologist-slash-mad-scientist Shuzo Nagumo. Whipping up house favourites that include the White Tomato Fizz (basil gin with centrifuged tomato water and olive oil) and the Sansho Gin and Tonic (flavoured with spicy Japanese pepper), Nagumo’s dimly lit, elegantly styled bar attracts an international crowd keen to sample his imaginative recipes.

Code Name Mixology: 1-6-1 Yaesu, Yaesu Dai-3 Park Bldg. 2F, Chuo 103-0028, Tokyo

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