Tokyo, famous for its bars and drinks, certainly offers a multitude of places to choose for a local tipple. Here are a few places for outstanding and memorable cocktails right now.
The Lobby Lounge & Bar, The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo
If you’re looking for the most decadent cocktail in Tokyo, then look no further — the Diamonds Are Forever Martini at The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo’s Lobby Lounge and Bar is it. The Grey Goose vodka martini with a twist of lime is garnished with a one-carat diamond — yes, a real diamond solitaire. If you can cover the ¥1,800,000 ($14,641) bar tab, then it’s all yours. A nice little touch is the musical accompaniment: The Lobby Lounge plays a live version of Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever” every time the drink is ordered. The bar is the perfect setting for such a dramatic drink service, too. From the 45th floor of the Roppongi-based hotel, cocktails come with a sweeping view of Tokyo and a gentle waterfall fountain, making it quite the place for a marriage proposal or an extravagant declaration of love.
Mandarin Bar, Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo is home to the glamorous Mandarin Bar on the 37th floor. Live jazz performances, lounge chairs in cozy corners and ikebana arrangements give the bar an elegant and intimate ambience. Not to be outdone by the gorgeous surroundings, the stellar cocktails range from the classic to the avant garde. There are several items on the menu devoted to Japanese sake and whiskey, too. One fine, fruity number is the tall and refreshing Ringo No Utahime, a drink that uses all Japanese ingredients: grain whiskey, local apple juice, sweet sake and Japanese pear liqueur served over crushed ice. Mandarin Bar also serves a rare Japanese delicacy: grasshoppers. Such bar snacks are optional, of course. Should you not feel the urge to leap into such adventurous noshing, you can always go for a bowl of nuts instead.
On a quiet corner in Shibuya, next to Yoyogi Park, lies a little gem called Fuglen. A Norwegian import that was introduced to Tokyo a few years ago, Fuglen serves coffee by day, craft cocktails by night and pours creativity at all times as a design studio. A warm, wooden interior, Fuglen features a retro Scandinavian feel that is quite inviting and perfect for drinks on a winter’s evening. Furnishings at Fuglen — expect to see high-quality pieces from Norway, mostly 50s and 60s vintage lounge chairs, plates and sideboards — are for sale. As for the other draw to the place, the drinks, expect a generous menu of simple, delicious cocktails. The signature drink is the Aquavit Sour, an exotic, frothy combination of nine ingredients that includes Norwegian aquavit, egg whites, lemon, vanilla and a preserved cherry garnish. The pièces de résistance are the ice cubes jewel cut by hand.
A tiny bar with only eight seats, Gen Yamamoto’s mixology goldmine is hidden down a side street in Azabu Juban. A quiet bar with the counter carved out of a 500-year-old oak tree, Gen Yamamoto only has the master himself working behind the bar. The menu is devoted to shiki (Japanese seasonality); Gen only stocks the freshest natural ingredients selected from all over Japan. Some of the concoctions have medicinal value. Others are designed to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night. Rather than going in and ordering a particular drink, Gen Yamamoto offers tasting menus of four to six cocktail “courses.” Fear not, the drinks are tasting sizes that won’t send you over the edge. The selections for December have an autumnal flavor with ginger, sweet potato, radish and sparkling sakes. The sweet, peppery fig and rye whiskey is a highlight.