Tokyo’s drinking scene is one of the best in the world, with boundary-breaking cocktail bars taking mixed drinks to the next level, while traditional izakayas bring you back down to earth in the best possible way. But such an overwhelming amount of options can feel daunting even for experienced boozehounds, who will inevitably be faced with the dreaded question – where next?
Well, one fitting answer is always 'to a master's bar'. What's that, you ask? A watering hole lorded over by a hooded monk? No: these veteran Tokyo barmen have earned their titles over the decades and are, above all, masters of bar etiquette – things like how to dress, what to talk about and how to carry oneself when faced with some of the finest cocktail artistry on this earth. The 15 bars listed below are no casual boozers: they're temples to the craft of bartending, and will reward a rightful drinker handsomely – as long as you remember these three rules:
1) Keep your voice down – these 'masters' won't hesitate to refuse loud drunks
2) Note the dress code – wear at least a collared shirt
3) Prepare to pay a cover charge of ¥1,000-¥2,000
Nervous yet? Good. Now get ready to discover the finer side of drinking in Tokyo.
Venues curated by Tamasaburau. Photos by Kisa Toyoshima and Keisuke Tanigawa