The food and drink culture in Japan is extensive and delectable. There are several award-winning cocktail bars in Tokyo alone. Many Japanese bars serve anything from the classics to unique cocktails, often using fresh, seasonal Japanese ingredients for a local cocktail experience. Here’s a list of eight bars you’re sure to love whether you’re new to cocktails or a connoisseur in the heart of Tokyo.

Photo by Lisa Knight

Ishi no Hana

In an unassuming basement right by Shibuya Hikarie sits Ishi no Hana, a bar for a true cocktail lover. The award-winning owner-bartender, Shinobu Ishigaki, has won IBA-certified international competitions, but the drinks speak for themselves. Ishi no Hana boasts a wide variety of drinks, from spirit-forward classics with a twist (like the popular Japanese negroni, that uses yuzu bitters), to “farm-to-bar” fruit cocktails. As seen in the bar’s Bloody Mary, which uses a whole tomato in its recipe, Ishi no Hana is particular about using fresh, local ingredients in its mixology. Ishi no Hana offers an extensive English menu for foreign guests, but the bartenders can fix up anything based on the guests’ wishes. 

Photo by Lisa Knight

The SG Club

Ranking 14th in the most recent Asia’s 50 Best Bars, The SG Club is divided into three floors of different themes: Guzzle, Sip and Savor. The first floor is “Guzzle,” which sports a more casual ambiance with standing room and cocktails with funny names (try their Sexy Colada for an umbrella-themed surprise). The second floor, “Savor,” is a membership-exclusive cigar lounge, serving cocktails perfectly curated to pair with a decadent cigar. The most popular floor is the basement where you’ll find “Sip.” The cocktail menu here is inventive and exciting for all. With cocktails like the Whiskey Nigiri that emulates sushi in cocktail form, the drinks and atmosphere are not only a delight to the senses but also ground-breaking. 

Bar Centifolia

If you’re active on social media, you might recognize Bar Centifolia’s flashy performance and eye-catching cocktails. This reservation-only bar might not be your alcoholic cup of tea if you’re looking for a more quiet location, but it is popular for a reason — the drinks are as delicious as the mixology is fascinating. The bartender owner, Yuzu Komai, is dedicated to serving up an evening that is sensational, at times humorous and delicious. With buzz-worthy (pun intended) cocktail preparation like having ice cut right in front of you with a katana, or setting the entire bar counter on fire, a visit to this bar is unforgettable. 


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A post shared by Hiroyasu Kayama (@benfiddich_tokyo)

Bar Benfiddich

Ranking fourth in Asia’s 50 Best Bars this year and considered Japan’s best bar, Hiroyasu Kayama’s Bar Benfiddich is world-famous. Nestled in Shinjuku, the 14-seater bar has a relaxed ambiance that transports guests away from the energetic district. Known for its farm-to-bar mixology, the bar uses fresh ingredients from Kayama’s very own family farm to create some delectable concoctions. Bar Benfiddich doesn’t have a menu, but let the staff know your preferred spirit and flavors, and they’ll be sure to blow you away.

Courtesy of Bar Libre

Bar Libre

If you’re into innovative mixology techniques, Bar Libre might be for you. Despite having a relaxed ambiance, a lot of the cocktails here use liquid nitrogen or smoking guns, adding to the impact of the drinks. Bar Libre is particular about its seasonal menu, but also offers standard cocktails, an extensive food menu and a cigar menu as well. Wedged in Ikebukuro, try the “New Wave Cocktails” that use various kinds of technology, such as diffusers and centrifugal separators. The Royal Milk Tea cocktail is also good if you want to spice up your cocktail repertoire.


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Memento Mori

The only thing better than chocolate or cocktails is combining the two to make cacao cocktails. Memento Mori is a unique bar that mixes two already incredible offerings — cacao and alcohol — into an unforgettable experience. Located in Toranomon Hills Tower, this cacao bar offers hot chocolate and cacao infusions, as well as using surprising ingredients like fermented cacao syrup and cacao pulps in its drinks. Hand-crafted by acclaimed bartender Shuzo Nagumo, Memento Mori promises an indulgent, chocolatey evening.

Courtesy of Bar Opa

Bar Opa

Opened in 1996 by top bartender Kenji Otsuki, Bar Opa has all the qualities of a Ginza bar experience, most notably, hospitality and great attention to detail. The late owner and many of the staff at Bar Opa are award-winning bartenders. Known for its relaxed vibe and being easy to stop by even on your own, this authentic bar serves quality cocktails ranging from fruity drinks to classics. Do note that there is a dress code. You shouldn’t stop by in very casual attire, like flip-flops. 

Courtesy of Apollo Bar

Apollo Bar

If you’re from the East Coast and missing a classical New York bar experience, Apollo Bar is for you. Slightly hidden in the basement of Ginza Corridor Street and dimly lit, Apollo Bar is the kind of place that you feel lucky to discover. With no food menu, the drinks have the spotlight in this establishment. Apollo goes back to basics for the best cocktails, using homemade tonic water, ginger ale, syrups and beautiful ice. 

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