It's easy to see why Bard is considered one of the best bars in Asia. You’ll find this little oasis just outside Katase-Enoshima Station in Kanagawa. While most travellers make a beeline straight over the Benten Bridge towards Enoshima Island, this is one place you won’t want to miss. The cosy bar occupies a ground-floor spot right on the river, and all its old-fashioned stained glass windows are perfectly positioned to give the best views of the water and the island.
Bard opens at 3pm, but we recommend stopping by after you’ve visited Enoshima, otherwise you might never make it to the island at all. Everything about the venue will have you in the mood to stay put just a little longer, from the comfy leather armchairs by the windows to the old-school jazz playing in the background.
This is no place for a quick beer before the train – beer and wine aren’t even on the menu. Bard is all about whisky and classic cocktails. A sign apologetically warns you that the bar has no Japanese whisky, but the staggering collection of mostly Scotch and Irish drams going back decades is nothing for owner-bartender Takeshi Tanabe to be ashamed of.
Drinks start at ¥1,000 and there’s a seating charge of ¥500 per person. There’s no menu, but with so many old bottles on display, whisky fiends will be spoilt for choice. As for cocktails, Tanabe knows all the classics, but if you’re not sure what to order, look at the bowl of seasonal fruit on the counter, pick your favourite, and Tanabe will whip something up featuring the fresh fruit. You might even find your drink served alongside some sliced fruit, cakes or other little snacks.
For those who smoke, Bard has an extensive array of fine cigars. For those who don’t, the bar is well ventilated, but if the atmosphere gets too heavy, you might want to head out onto the two-person terrace at the front. Bard may be small, but it’s worth exploring – no visit is complete until you’ve spotted the bathtub holding oversized champagne bottles.