1. Antonic
    Antonic
  2. カクテルワークス 神保町
    Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaCocktail Works Jinbocho
  3. カクテルワークス 神保町
    Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

8 best gin bars in Tokyo

Experience these top-tier craft gin establishments currently dominating Tokyo's bar scene

Mari Hiratsuka
Emma Steen
Written by
Mari Hiratsuka
&
Emma Steen
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Once written off as mother’s ruin, gin is making an exuberant comeback thanks to cool craft distilleries experimenting with new herbs, fruits and spices alongside the spirit’s signature juniper berries. In Japan, homegrown distillers are also incorporating local botanicals including tea, yuzu, cherry blossoms and sansho pepper into their production. The results are stunning, with Japan taking its place at gin’s top table with some really aromatic tipples that are distinctively different from its counterparts in Europe. Interested? Here’s our list of the best gin bars in Tokyo, where you can enjoy top class G&T and gin cocktails.

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Cheers to gin

  • Bars and pubs
  • Jinbocho

This cocktail bar in the bookstore neighbourhood of Jinbocho is helmed by Eiji Miyazawa, a well-known figure in the local cocktail scene who has seemingly won every industry gong going. Go check out its 160-strong international craft gin collection – of which 25 are Japanese labels, including Ki No Bi from Kyoto and Alchemiae from Gifu.

While purists will insist on tasting the gin on its own, the bar’s many cocktails (from ¥1,400) are worth coming down off your high horse for. We particularly love the Matcha Chai Latte that’s infused with cinnamon, star anise and Ki No Bi gin. Like chai, it can be served hot or cold. But whatever your choice of cocktail is, you can expect them to be beautifully presented.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Nakameguro

This cosy Nakameguro hangout reckons it’s Japan’s very first dedicated gin and tonic bar. It’s certainly well suited to the role, boasting shelves stocked with over 120 kinds of gin from around the world. 

Look out for local favourites like Roku Gin and Ki No Bi, popular brands such as The Botanist and Hendricks, and rare bottles like Bottega Bacur and Cruxland gin. If you’d rather something lighter, the bar even has a selection of non-alcoholic spirits designed to taste like gin, including Nema and Seedlip. Drinks range from ¥800 to ¥1,200 each.

Not sure which gin to pick? No problem – just consult the bartender, or you can check out the bar’s dedicated Instagram menu to see the full list of gin available with a description of each bottle. 

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Gaienmae

A short hop from Gaienmae Station, PR Bar’s warm, plush and altogether handsome interior was previously occupied by Pied Piper, an apparel store famed in the ’90s for its innovative fusion of art and fashion. Many one-time Pied Piper patrons continue to frequent the premises, not least because current PR manager, Shin Takeda, formerly tended the Friday-only bar at Pied Piper’s sister store A New Shop. Expect an arty, fashion savvy clientele.

Under Takeda’s guidance, PR Bar has become a go-to spot for Tokyo’s gin aficionados. Four domestic gins are on the menu, including the shochu-based Akayane and the distinctive Okinawan spirit Masahiro, which is made with a millet brandy base. Don’t overlook the house infusions, which see the juniper-based liquor given a twist with the addition of ginseng, mugwort and other herbs – perfect for those who prefer drinks that lean towards the botanical.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Asakusa

Hiding in plain sight on a Kuramae street corner, this distillery makes inventive, quality spirits from food waste. Tokyo Riverside Distillery is run by The Ethical Spirits & Co, which hit the headlines in mid-2020 with Revive, a gin made by distilling leftover Budweiser beer that was going to waste during Japan’s first state of emergency. 

In front of the gleaming 500L copper still on the ground floor is a streetside counter where you can buy all the company’s unusual but wonderful spirits, including Revive, Elegant (a range of two gins using sake lees as a base), and our personal favourite, Cacao Éthique. 

If you’re looking to get more than just an idea of what this place can do, head upstairs to Stage, the venue's bar and restaurant. A slick single room that’s all copper fittings, polished concrete and pot plants, Stage is where the distillery really gets to strut its stuff. 

Needless to say, the cocktails here are made to showcase both the company’s spirits and its sustainability ethos, like the mojito (¥1,200) made with Elegant gin and mint from the building’s own rooftop garden. Be sure to order the Cocktail from Beer (¥1,200), a fruity clarified milk punch featuring Revive. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Koenji

Koenji’s The Day Food Lab is a casual café-bar with a monthly rotating exhibition, the artworks of which are up for sale. When it comes to gin, the owners only carry craft gin that have passed their taste test; there are 40 on the menu at the moment. We love the new Sakurao Gin Original that was only launched in March this year. It’s a flavourful tipple where the citrussy notes of lemon and yuzu dominate, alongside some unconventional ingredients including hinoki cypress and oyster shells.

  • Restaurants
  • Toranomon

This izakaya and bar features a distillery producing craft gin made with locally sourced shochu from Tokyo and Ome spring water. The gin label featuring a black and white tiger on its front, Common, is exclusive to this Toranomon venue – you can pick up on the gin’s botanical notes in cocktails like the Toranomon Lemon Sour and Toranomon Highball. 

The izakaya menu here features homestyle classics like Napolitan pasta, garlic mentaiko toast and crispy karaage fried chicken, each matching perfectly with the restaurant’s seasonal gin.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Sangenjaya

Duck under the small arched doorway down the narrow street of Susuran-dori and you’ll find one of the best bars in Sangenjaya. Actually, you’ll find two of the best bars in Sangenjaya, as Cielo is a two-level establishment with separate spaces for gin and whiskey aficionados. On the first landing, you’ll find the warmly lit gin bar with rows upon rows of the distilled liquor. 

Labels range from the Spanish Gin Mare, infused with Mediterranean botanicals like rosemary and olives, to locally sourced bottles like Komasa and Roku. You can’t go wrong with a simple gin and tonic mixed with the bottle that first catches your eye, but it’s hard to resist the cocktail menu that has everything from sweet and strong concoctions like the Coffee Negroni (¥1,200)  to light, dry tipples like the Lemongrass Old Salty Dog (¥1,400). 

  • Restaurants
  • Ikejiri-Ohashi

This Ikejiri Ohashi café & bar serves over 100 types of craft gin in a relaxed modern-Japanese inspired interior. Make sure to pair your drink with obanzai, or light Kyoto-style dishes made with vegetables and seafood. Following the concept of ‘providing the world with excellent Japanese local spirits’, the gin-based cocktails here are adjusted to each customer’s preference. If you’re around earlier in the day, Sicx serves up hearty breakfast and lunch options such as homemade croque-monsieur sandwiches and some pretty darn good coffee.

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