Skip to main content

Craft and Innovation by the Glassful: The Best Bars in Tokyo

Code Name Mixology best bars in tokyo
Image used with permission by copyright holder
If you’ve never been, Tokyo (and Japan as a whole, really) is a veritable drinker’s paradise. You can literally get a drink at pretty much any time of the day, no matter where you are. From convenience stores and vending machines to upscale cocktail bars, Japan services its drinkers’ needs in full.

We’re going to focus on the upper end of the spectrum for now, though, and look at cocktail bars. As it is in the high-end cocktail bars in the US and other places, cocktails in Japan are an art that takes years to perfect. Those charged with creating these masterpieces spend countless hours learning to shape ice, learning how to shake, and learning everything else needed to make a world-class cocktail.

Below, you’ll find some of our picks for some of the best bars in Tokyo. There are plenty others, but these will definitely get you started.

(Note: Many of the bars in Japan are not found on the ground floor, as they are here in the states. Often, bars will be located on the higher levels in a building, so if you can’t find the place at first, you might want to try looking up.)

Code Name Mixology (Akasaka district)

Code Name Mixology
Planter Sling Cocktail/Code Name Mixology/Facebook Image used with permission by copyright holder

For those that like leaving your cocktails in the hands of the bartenders, Code Name Mixology is a great place (if not one of the best in the country) for that. Owner Shuzo Nagumo (who has opened three other high-end bars since starting Code Name Mixology) has created an environment that is equal parts cocktail bar and crazy experimentation laboratory—each bar he owns has a wide variety of equipment, including but not limited to a rotary evaporator, dehydrator, and a vacuum wrapper. Also, foie gras vodka. ‘Nuff said.

Bar Trench (Ebisu)

Bar Trench
Bar Trench/Facebook Image used with permission by copyright holder

Bar Trench is where you go if you want a mix of classic cocktails and innovative potables that pair a wide variety of ingredients (blowfish, anyone?). Bar Trench is also a great place if you’re looking for the green fairy, or a cocktail that features the lovely potent potable absinthe in it. One of the signature cocktails here uses blowfish and squid-infused sochu, so if you’re feeling adventurous, you’ll want to check it out.

Bar High Five (Ginza)

Sporting a whisk(e)y list (or rather, a shelf) that numbers over 200, Bar High Five is a great place to sit back in the dimly-lit room for a martini or two (if whisky isn’t your thing). The bar has been so popular lately that they even had to move to a larger space to accommodate the eager drinkers. As with Code Name Mixology, the bartenders here will ask you your taste preferences and craft a cocktail based on that.

Bar BenFiddich (Shinjuku)

This bar is as close to a mad scientist’s dream as you can get. The bartender, Hiroyasu Kayama, makes his own infusions, tinctures, et cetera, which line the walls behind the bar and make it seem almost as if you’ve stepped into some magical laboratory. Kayama is perhaps most famous for using homegrown plants to fashion the bar’s very own version of the Italian bitter liqueur, Campari, which he uses in the drinks at Bar BenFiddich.

Bar B&F (Shinjuku)

Bar B&F Cocktail
Bar B&F/Facebook Image used with permission by copyright holder

The sister bar to Bar BenFiddich (and found in the same building), Bar B&F is a newer cocktail bar that specializes brandy-based cocktails (B&F standing for brandy & fruit). Utilizing brandies from around the world, the bartenders here craft inventive yet simple drinks that will amaze with every sip.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of The Manual’s larger Journey to Japan travel guide. Over the course of a month, our writers had the pleasure of experiencing Japan in its many forms, from high-rise bars in Tokyo to traditional tea-ceremonies in Kyoto. We hope this series of articles will not only inform, but inspire you to take your own trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
We paired summer beers with grilled meats and veggies — these are our fave combos
Beer and grilled foods are meant to be enjoyed together
Beer and grill

There are many reasons to look forward to the summer months. First of all, you can wear shorts and flip-flops every day. It feels like the sun is shining constantly, the days feel endless, there seem to be limitless ponds, lakes, and pools to swim in, and best of all, it’s grilling season. While we love everything about summer, it’s the latter we enjoy the most. Especially when we pair summer grilling with a nice, frosty beer (or three).

When it comes to summer beer pairing, yard games are fun, sitting on a dock with your feet in a lake is great, and downing a crisp beer after an afternoon of lawnmowing is exceptional, but nothing beats the classic, timeless grilling beer.

Read more
Find bars specializing in alcohol-free cocktails with this search engine
cherry-gin-cocktail

As more and more people are choosing to forgo alcohol, there's been a boom in thoughtfully made, delicious, non-alcoholic cocktails. Gone are the days of a couple of sad, overly sweet mocktails being tacked on to the end of a drinks list as an afterthought -- now, bartenders around the world are getting interested in the possibility of alcohol-free drinks. Whether you're doing a dry month, you're off alcohol altogether, or you just fancy trying something different, a night at a bar specializing in mocktails can be eye-opening.

But it's not always easy to find places that will suit a non-drinking crowd, which is why an alcohol-free search engine is hoping to change that. Mocktail Quest lists bars, restaurants, and shops that specialize in alcohol-free options.

Read more
Step back in time and learn how to make authentic Turkish coffee
You can have Turkish coffee any time, let us show you how
Making Turkish coffee

Turkish coffee is a concentrated, rich, and somewhat bitter drink made of unfiltered coffee. It's also one of the oldest methods of preparing coffee, dating back to 1555. Unlike a traditional cup of joe, Turkish coffee is made with super-fine grounds brewed in water versus drip style, where water is poured over coffee beans and filtered. Because of this variation, Turkish coffee is incredibly concentrated and perfect if you like your coffee or espresso strong. (Like we do.)

We went to Ciragan Palace Kempinski, a luxury hotel in Turkey that occupies a former Ottoman palace, to learn how to brew traditional Turkish coffee. Burak, the hotel's Gazebo Lounge barista, told us while coffee was discovered during the 11th century in Ethiopia, its brewing history dates back to 1555.

Read more