Travel

Five must-visit bars in spectacular Tokyo

Cosy up and sip on some of the city’s finest drinks offerings

Lobby Lounge at Shangri-La Tokyo 

A glorious view never fails to hit the spot as the perfect cocktail accompaniment, and Shangri-La’s refined Lobby Lounge fits the bill perfectly. Opulent interiors complemented by dark wooden furnishings evoke a classic cocktail bar ambience, while the venue’s lofty location on the 28th floor imbues a tranquil feeling of floating over the city, with a vista across Marunouchi and beyond. The menu’s alluring concoctions are a greatest hits of Shangri-La Hotel signature cocktails across the world, while more-ish libations like Roku gin-infused ‘Lavender Moon’ link by ingredients to different regions of Japan.

Ben Fiddich

Discover the apothecary-like world of Ben Fiddich, where Hiroyasu Kayama’s alchemical skills take centre stage. This snug, 17-seater bar is a vibrant visual spectacle, tucked away in an unassuming Shinjuku tower block – yet the true feast for the senses lies in Kayama’s creations. Whisky features abundantly but the bar staff are glad to go off-menu and produce a cocktail to your tastes. The house-made spirits and infusions add to the feeling of a unique Tokyo experience.

The Bellwood

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Originally modelled on an early 20th-century Japanese coffee house – or kissaten – expert mixologist Atsushi Suzuki has created a Shibuya bar as stylish as his drinks menu. That menu changes with the seasons but there are separate lists of coffee and tea-based cocktails to offer you a perfect winter warmer (although not in the shape of the frozen coffee-based Udabra, made with golden rum). This dark wood-panelled bar also offers a surprise at the back: an even smaller bar dedicated to an alternating rota of experimental food and drink concepts.

Bar Trench

Brazilian cocktail guru Rogerio Igarashi Vaz, with drinks as wondrous as his lavish moustache, is the brains behind this grand speakeasy bar in trendy Ebisu. Think all the style of Peaky Blinders’ flat caps but a far cosier, more inviting ambience and meticulous bartenders happy to share insight into an extensive absinthe collection. In the 13 years since it opened, Bar Trench has built up a cult following. One claim to fame is apparently the widest collection of bitters in Japan but – whisper it – one of the city’s finest highballs made with rye whisky.

Winestand Waltz

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Specialising in natural wines from Japan and across Europe, this miniscule hidden gem caters for only eight to 10 people. Yasuhiro Ooyama is your enthusiastic sommelier, happy to talk through his latest bottles and finds. If you can discover Winestand Waltz, 10 minutes from Ebisu station, decorated in French film posters and with vintage crystal cutlery, be prepared for a compact but perfectly formed wine list of rich reds and captivating whites. A small plates menu changes regularly.