With the city under some form of emergency rules restricting alcohol sales for most of 2021, it hasn’t been easy to get a cocktail in Tokyo this year. But now that the recent state of emergency has been lifted and venues can serve booze until 9pm, drinkers – and their favourite bars – are ready to celebrate.
Virtù, the 39th-floor cocktail lounge at the luxe Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi, is marking the occasion with a slew of nine new cocktails on its special reopening menu. The bar has more reason to celebrate than most – Virtù’s first anniversary was in September 2021, but the bar was closed due to the emergency.
For all its shiny newness, Virtù also has a strong sense of history. The bar’s entrance is via a corridor-length library lined with books on food and drink from around the world. Once you’re inside, it’s hard to know where to look first. The floor-to-ceiling windows face east, offering spectacular views over Kanda towards the Sumida River, with the Tokyo Skytree in the background.
If the entrance is a library, the bar is an encyclopedia. The featured collections of cognac and whisky in ornate bottles give the biggest clue to the theme. Virtù is all about blending Tokyo with Paris, and the new cocktail menu does this to delicious effect. There are five new East-meets-West creations on the reopening menu, starting from ¥1,898 each.
AKA La Tomate is a lighter, spicier take on a bloody mary, using tomato-based shochu and hot sauce for a savoury kick. The tart Le Verger is a mix of brandies from Japan and France with grapefruit, lime juice and apricot liqueur.
For something more refreshing, the Fortunella Spritz combines Japanese kumquat liqueur, Lillet Blanc and Champagne with a rosemary sprig as a garnish.
The two heavy hitters on the new menu are La Matou and the Whisky Mendiant. The first is a twist on the classic 18th-century martinez cocktail – it’s a heady mix of Japanese Old Tom gin and the French apéritifs Dubonnet Rouge and Picon. Meanwhile, the Whisky Mendiant is a rich nightcap featuring sherry, Benedictine, chocolate bitters and Japanese single malt whisky.
Alongside these new drinks are four special seasonal concoctions celebrating autumn and Halloween (from ¥2,500). These limited-time cocktails include the Cavalier Sans Tête (that’s Headless Horseman in French), a tangy mix of ginger, lime, bitters, Nikka apple brandy and vodka. There are also five mocktails based on different Japanese teas (from ¥2,530).
These new cocktails should be around until just before Christmas. But if 2021 has taught us anything, it’s this: never wait to do the things you want.
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