For the traveller, navigating the world of the best Tokyo bars is no easy feat. While the city abounds in izakayas and casual drinking dens, cocktail bars and whisky bars have become sought after destinations.
To put together the list of best Tokyo bars, we caught up with Bartender and Drinks Consultant, Quynh Nguyen after a recent visit to Tokyo. He shares with us some of his favourites bars which we’re featuring in addition to our own.
For first time visitors to Tokyo bars, he offers these handy tips:
- Most bars have a cover charge and some have a service charge on top.
- It is customary to be offered a warm towel on arrival.
- Standing up while drinking is frowned upon in most bars.
- If you’re a non-smoker, be aware that some bars and restaurants still allow smoking indoors.
- Taxis are expensive in Tokyo. Unless you can speak Japanese, to avoid confusion write down the exact address of your destination.
Here is the ultimate guide to Tokyo’s whisky bars and cocktail scene.
Best Tokyo Bars
Agave – a Mexican cantina with an impressive bar and lounge stocking over 400 varieties of tequila and mezcal.
Address: Clover Bldg B1F, 7-15-10 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Bar Ben Fiddich – (pictured) a dimly-lit space best known for apothecary style cocktails and the use of traditional elixirs and herbal liqueurs. The bar also boasts an impressive whisky selection.
Address: F Yamatoya Building, 1-13-7 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Bar High Five – sets the standard that many bars strive for and always rates highly in the World’s 50 Best Bars. It’s a given that every bartender visits this bar just to see Ueno-San in action, recently awarded Best International Bartender in the Spirited Awards 2016. No menu is given. Just leave yourself in his capable hands.
Address: Efflore Ginza5 Bldg. BF 5-4-15 Ginza Chuo-ward Tokyo
Bar Oak – located on the second floor of Tokyo Station Hotel, the bar offers a solid selection of whisk(e)y as well as a hand-picked selection of spirits.
Address: Tokyo Station Hotel 2F, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Bar Radio – a legendary vintage cocktail bar setting for classic cocktails and whiskies.
Address: 3-10-34 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Bar Trench – more of a classic European bar than Japanese bar with an old world feel and some serious drinks. The bar stocks a large selection of world’s herb liqueurs and rare bottles of spirits. A more casual vibe than most Ginza bars.
Address: 1F, 1-5-8 Ebisu-nishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Campbelltoun Loch – an intimate subterranean whisky bar with an ever-changing selection including whiskies from defunct (long gone) distilleries.
Address: Matsui Building (basement), 1-6-8 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku
Cask Strength – you might think you’re entering a Scottish medieval castle to get to this underground bar. Go for the Scotch and Japanese whisky selection including rare drams.
Address: Main Stage Roppongi B1F 3-9-11 Roppongi Minato-ku Tokyo
Codename: MIXOLOGY – located on the second floor of an ordinary building, the first thing you notice is a rotovap on the bar so you know this bar means business. Progressive drinks target all senses – sight, smell and taste – with food based on the same premise. You can order from a cocktail menu but you’re encouraged to tell the bartender what you like and they’ll create something special.
Address: 3 −14−3 Akasaka, 2F Minato-ku, Tokyo
Codename: MIXOLOGY LABORATORY – the newest bar by Nagumo-San is located in a non-descript office building up a few flights of stairs. Go for progressive drinks such as the Blue Cheese Cognac Martini where the bartenders are pushing the boundaries using modern techniques.
Address: Dai 3 Park Building 3F 1-6-1 Yaesu Chuoku Tokyo
Gen Yamamoto – named after the owner, the eight seat bar is focused on expressing local produce and Japanese seasonality through the cocktail.
Address: Anniversary Building 1F, 1-6-4 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Iron Fairies Japan – step into a fantasy wonderland where imagination runs wild with fairy dust bottles, suspended butterflies, pixie dust and blacksmith tools. The cocktails carry the inventiveness and fantastical theme with creative ingredients and presentation such as an octopus garnish.
Address: Ginza B1, 5-9-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Masq – one of the more progressive Ginza bars with beautifully crafted cocktails and food. Try their barrel aged negroni or their modern take on a cosmopolitan. The wow factor is just as much as in the expensive glassware as the drinks.
Address: Ginza Fotogu Bldg. B1, 5-6-6 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
Mint Leaf Mojito Bar – a Cuban-themed bar in Roppongi with 100 variations on a Mojito. The bar stocks a random selection of rare Japanese whiskies and other spirits.
Address: 4-4-4 Roppongi | 1F Maison Roppongi Bldg., Minato 106-0032, Tokyo Prefecture
New York Bar Tokyo Park Hyatt – the hotel bar from Lost in Translation. Go and live that moment. The lobby bar area oversees the whole of Tokyo. The bar opens at 5pm but the you can still have high tea and whiskies whilst waiting.
Address: 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo
Shot Bar Zoetrope – a specialist whisky bar with over 300 whiskies including hard to find bottlings. The venue combines the owner’s two passions: Japanese whisky and movies. The bar features film memorabilia, movie soundtracks and silent films.
Address: 3rd floor, Gaia Building No. 4, 7-10-14 Nishi Shinjuku, Tokyo
The Society – located on the 25th floor of the Park Hotel Tokyo, this is essentially a Scotch Malt Whisky Society bar with over 100 single malts with views over Tokyo.
Address: Shiodome Media Tower 1-7-1 Higashi Shimbashi, Minato-ku 1057227 Tokyo
Star Bar Ginza – quiet and intimate, this subterranean bar specialises in whisky and cocktails. Seating is limited so be prepared to wait until one becomes available but it is well worth it.
Address: 1-5-13 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061
Xex Atago Green Hills – essentially a restaurant with a bar, here you can sip on cocktails at 180m above Tokyo with views over Tokyo Tower.
Address: MORI Tower 42 Fl, 2-5-1 Atago, Minato-ku, Tokyo
— This article will be updated when new bars are added.
Photo Credit of Bar Ben Fiddich – Supplied.