Although Tokyo is bustling during the day, when the sun sets and the entire metropolis lights up, that is really when Tokyo comes to life. The average working Joe gets off the clock and heads to were everybody's knows their name and fun times are had--the local bar, of course! Visitors to Tokyo looking for a fine place to drink will be so overwhelmed with choice; they won't know where to start. So here's our guide to Tokyo for bar flies.
Sasagin - Sake for Beginners
Drinkers in Tokyo will want to give sake, Japan's own special brew of rice wine, a try. However, those who have never had sake before will want the best possible first experience. New sake drinkers will want to start at Sasagin in the Yoyogi-Uehara neighbourhood of Tokyo. Although the food menu is in Japanese, they provide a sake menu in English so foreign visitors will be able to order a flavour they will actually like. The knowledgeable sommelier will also be able to provide excellent recommendations based on the drinker's choice of food or their own personal palate. They take pride in their knowledge of sake and want to be the place that foreign visitors remember forever as their first sake drinking experience.
Kamiya Bar - The Best of the Classic Japanese Bar
Visitors that want to have a drinking experience like the average working-class Joe in Tokyo will want to head down to Kamiya Bar in the Asakusa district of Tokyo. Built in the late 1800s, Kamiya Bar is Tokyo's oldest western-style bar and a bit of a legendary one. With Formica bar tops and overly bright lighting, drinkers don't come to Kamiya for the decor, they come for the company. The bartenders are friendly whether the patron is a lowly office clerk or a curious foreigner. and because of it, Kamiya Bar hosts the rowdy atmosphere that is typical in most working-class neighbourhood watering holes. Visitors should be sure to try their house special of Denki Bran, or Electric Brandy, that is a unique blend of wine, gin and brandy. While it certainly may knock the socks off some less-seasoned drinkers, it goes down smoother than it sounds like it should.
300BAR - For the Bar Fly on a Budget
For those that need a drink or two, but are finding that Tokyo is living up to its reputation for being seriously expensive, there is a way to get some high-quality, yet cheap, cocktails as well as food. It does; however, mean going to Tokyo's most expensive neighborhood of Ginza. 300BAR is a touch of irony hidden among Tokyo's masters of the universe, every cocktail, every shot and every dish on the menu is only an affordable 300 yen with tax. Visitors won't be able to get the high shelf liquor, but they won't be served bottom shelf swill either. It is due to their budget-friendly food and drink that this hidden little hotspot has been in operation for nineteen long years. While visitors to Tokyo may have never heard of it, many locals have, which assures that the places is almost always packed by dinner time. Visiting bar flies will want to get an early start if they don't want to have a long wait.
Bar and Lounge Majestic - Bar with the Best View
For those who have the extended budget to support it, a visit to the Bar and Lounge Majestic cannot be missed. This stylish bar in the up-and-coming Shiodome district is the best place to go for drinks with a breathtaking view. The bar sits 215 metres above the ground with floor-to-ceiling glass windows to provide sweeping views over the glowing Tokyo metropolis as well as the iconic Tokyo Tower. The bar is also part of the Fish Bank Tokyo restaurant that sports surprisingly affordable seafood options considering the locale. Although the drinks may be expensive, the view is well worth going there to at least have one high-quality cocktail. It also serves as Tokyo's go-to bar to impress a date or a potential business client.
Zoetrope - Sampling Japanese Whiskey
While Japanese whiskey doesn't hold the same fame as Irish whiskey, it still merits a try while in its homeland. Zoetrope in Shinjuku boasts itself as the most passionate whiskey bar in all of Japan and has a collection of bottles that back that up. With over 300 different varieties of Japanese whiskey to offer, some of which not even for sale anymore, seasoned whiskey drinkers will not want for choice. Visitors can start with a sampler platter to get a taste for the distinct aromas and flavours of Japan's most popular whiskeys before moving on to small samplings of their rare bottlings. The rarer vintages will cost quite a bit while the popular brands are great for the budget drinker. Regardless, the visiting whiskey connoisseur will leave well satisfied and with a broader palate.
Alcatraz ER - Tokyo's Weirdest Watering Hole
Japan has become synonymous with bizarre oddities. From anime characters dancing in the streets to unique themed hotels and restaurants, there are some strange sights and experiences to be had in Tokyo. The bars are not immune to the oddness, as Shibuya district's Alcatraz ER bar proves. Alcatraz ER is an odd mix of a prison, medieval dungeon and a hospital where, upon entry, you must declare your blood type so that the lovely gothic nurses and doctors will know the proper medication for your ailments. For those dining in the restaurant section, they are handcuffed and taken to their cell while the drinkers are taken to the dark and creepy bar area. Either way, you aren't escaping the handcuffs until you get where they take you. Drinkers are administered shots of their "medicine" from syringes and all the cocktails have odd medical-themed names. Visitors can get bar snacks like human intestines and severed limbs off the menu or sip their drink as a deranged escaped convict runs through the establishment screaming and waving a plastic axe around. It may not be the most comfortable spot for a drink, but it certainly is a strange and entertaining place.