Best cocktail bars in Tokyo

Whether you fancy a classic drink or the kind of creative concoction you’d only ever find in Tokyo, these cocktail bars are the best in the city. By Tamasaburau

ガスライト霞ヶ関本店
1/3
リトルスミス
2/3
Old Imperial Bar
3/3
By Time Out Tokyo Editors |
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Cocktail culture in Tokyo is a serious business, and at times it can almost feel like a tea ceremony. The bars are solemn, conversations are spoken in hushed tones, while the well-suited bartenders craft their drinks in measured and masterful movements. The drinks are elevated into an art form – made with the utmost precision, boasting the freshest seasonal produce and chilled with impossibly clear ice that’s chipped by hand.

Cocktail-making in Tokyo is often approached with the same perfectionist philosophy that drives the city’s food culture, and you can experience all that at these exceptional cocktail bars. Just try not to look like you’re having too much fun.

Also see: Looking for a fun, casual night out? Go to these bars instead.

Shaken and stirred

Bars and pubs

Little Smith

icon-location-pin Ginza

Although it’s been open for 25 years, Little Smith still pops up in conversions about the top bars in Ginza. But you wouldn’t guess its age based on the contemporary interior design, which boasts an unusually high four-metre ceiling. The sleek island bar made of wood and wrapped around an imposing column remains a much-loved aspect of Little Smith. It is the work of the late renowned architect Takahiko Yanagisawa, who was also responsible for some of Tokyo’s most iconic landmarks such as the Yurakucho Mullion and the Opera City Tower...

Bars and pubs

Old Imperial Bar

icon-location-pin Hibiya

The beloved Old Imperial Bar is classic Tokyo: a genteel atmosphere, all decked out like a gentlemen’s club in dark wood and leather, presided over by a staff of immaculately dressed bartenders. It is the only place within the iconic Imperial Hotel which still retains art deco traces of its former 1923 building designed by the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright...

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Bars and pubs

Bar Centifolia

icon-location-pin Azabu-Juban

Despite being a relative newcomer, this pristine and smart-looking bar, all decked out in the classic get-up of wood and marble, already has a regality about it. A stunning collection of 100-plus antique glasses is given pride of place on the shelves behind the bar. Whether you’re after a classic or a house special, you can trust Komai to make you a superb cocktail – he is, after all, an award- winning maestro mixologist...

Bars and pubs

Star Bar Hibiya

icon-location-pin Hibiya

This Star Bar in Hibiya feels like a next-step evolution from its Ginza outlet. There’s the same air of confidence – but the design is now built around a sophisticated but modern palette of dark blue and black. The bar counter is particularly stunning: hand-polished and adorned with an oil- paint-like pattern and unique natural indigo gloss inspired by Japanese denim...

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Bars and pubs

Gaslight

icon-location-pin Kasumigaseki

Opened in 1989, this Tokyo institution is themed after the historic members-only Gaslight Bar in 1950s Chicago, which once counted Elizabeth Taylor as one of its many celebrity clients. While you’re unlikely to spot any Hollywood stars enjoying a nightcap in Kasumigaseki, this classy bar has a similarly discreet air and is known for featuring bartending greats such as Takao Mori...

Bars and pubs

Rooster

icon-location-pin Ginza

Bars offering fresh-fruit cocktails have become rather common in Tokyo. But this Ginza bar – whose cheeky name is a play on the word ‘cocktail’ – goes the extra mile by installing a cooler specifically for its seasonal fruit. Rooster even sends out newsletters to its regular customers to introduce new seasonal cocktails...

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Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Ishinohana

icon-location-pin Shibuya

Seasonal cocktails are the speciality at Ishinohana, Shibuya's answer to the high-end cocktail bars of Ginza. At a basement location just a minute's walk from Shibuya Station, owner Shinobu Ishigaki wields an array of fresh fruit and vegetables when creating his distinctive drinks: a gin and tonic is enlivened with kumquat, a margherita gets an injection of housemade cassis confiture. There are entire menus devoted just to mojitos and martinis...

Nightlife

The SG Club

icon-location-pin Shibuya

Named for its legendary bartender, Shingo Gokan, The SG Club takes its cocktails extremely seriously. Shingo Gokan won international bartender of the year back in 2017 and is now churning out his exemplary creations at The SG Club in Shibuya, just opened in July 2018. The club is spread out over two floors. The ground floor is named Guzzle – a more casual watering hole – while the basement is named Sip, with the vibes of a speakeasy...

More great Tokyo bars

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