The Luxury Bar: Five Amazing Ones to Check Out!

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A person preparing a delicate pink cocktail in a luxury bar.

If you’re into liquor, spirits, or any other types of alcohol, then you will definitely enjoy bar hopping in Japan! In particular, a few bars in Japan are on “Asia’s 50 Best Bars to Visit” list! Here are five luxury bars that serve classic and innovative cocktails you can enjoy alone or with company! 

Gen Yamamoto 

Gen Yamamoto is located in Azabu-Juban, Tokyo. The bar is famous for its special cocktail omakase courses, which vary between four and seven cocktail-tasting sets. Cocktails are made based on the customer’s dietary preferences, the time of day, the season, and the present weather conditions. The cocktails come individually, and explanations of the origins of the ingredients are in both English and Japanese. The omakase experience lasts 90 minutes.

An artisanal cocktail in Gen Yamamoto, a luxury bar in Tokyo.
This bar was one of the first in the world to feature an omakase menu. Image via Conde Nast Traveler

Gen Yamamoto, the owner and bartender, previously worked as the head barman at Daniel Bouley’s Brushstroke in New York. Working in New York inspired him to open a bar in Tokyo. This dream came true in 2013 when he opened the bar with his name. The bar has eight seats and a 500-year-old slice of Japanese oak as a counter. Because of this, you need to book your seat at least seven days in advance, only by phone. This exclusivity makes it an amazing luxury bar in the city!

The Grey Room 

If you’re looking for cocktails with a spicy twist, then be sure to visit The Grey Room in Ginza, Tokyo! The bar offers drinks, afternoon tea, and light snacks, focusing on South Asian flavors. The drinks are prepared by the award-winning bartender Yukiyo Kurihara, who is known as an innovative pioneer in the current Japanese gastronomy scene. 

The inside of The Grey Room, and luxury bar in Tokyo.
This bar also features Indian cuisine as well. Image via World Architecture

The cocktail menu features signature cocktails such as Mumbai Tonic, Chai no Latte, and Coriander Gimlet, all using various spices and liqueurs. In addition to the cocktail menu, the afternoon tea option is very popular with ladies. It features a range of Indian and European desserts, Indian savory snacks, and tea. Located on the 11th floor of the Gicros Ginza Gems building, you can enjoy spectacular views of the bustling city during the day or at night. 

The Bellwood 

The Bellwood, in Shibuya, Tokyo, is an award-winning bar and is one of Asia’s 50 best bars to visit. Its manager is the legendary Chivas Masters World Champion Atsushi Suzuki, known for creating unique cocktails. The bar is modeled after an early 20th-century Japanese coffee house with sepia-toned photos, wood relief, and stained glass. Following the theme, the menu features unique cocktails with a tea or coffee base. 

The inside of The Bellwood, a speakeasy in Japan.
This bar harkens back to the Taisho-era (1912-1926). Image via Timeout Tokyo

In addition to unique cocktails, The Bellwood is famous for its events, such as blindfolded food pairing menus and barista collaborations with famous cafes in Tokyo. If you love sushi, you will also love The Bellwood’s secret sushi restaurant, which features only four seats. You can have an omakase experience featuring flavors worldwide at the sushi restaurant. The omakase experience includes three cocktails, so if you want a unique and intimate bar experience, you should visit The Bellwood! 

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Bee’s Knees 

If you love bars with a speakeasy vibe, you should check out Bee Knees! Listed in Asia’s 50 best bars to visit, the bar is located in the heart of Gion in Kyoto. Slightly hidden in the alleyways of Kyoto, Bee Knee’s is built around the theme of the 1920s alcohol prohibition era in the United States. The bar disguises its entrance as a yellow door with the words “The Book Store” written on it. 

A dimly lit bar at Bee's Knees.
This is a speakeasy in Kyoto! Image via Trip Advisor

But don’t be fooled; the only book in this bar is the menu with 12 signature creative cocktails. In addition to their signature cocktails, bartenders create cocktails based on customer’s preferences. All cocktails have their ingredients sourced locally, and the Bee’s Knees staff works closely with farmers and other producers in the area. 

Bar Shiki 

Bar Shiki is located in Shinsaibashi, Osaka. While the outside of the building has no distinctive features, the inside can make you feel like you’re traveling back in time. The interior’s beautiful mahogany setup features unique ornaments and a counter with eight seats. Bar Shiki has no menu; describe what you want to the bartender and owner, Mr Nakaichi. 

The red interior of Bar Shiki, a luxury bar in Osaka.
This unassuming bar is in the heart of Osaka. Image via Wine and Spirits Association of Japan

Nakaichi understands English and Japanese, so you don’t have to worry about getting your ideas across to him. Many visitors have said Nakaichi is like a cocktail alchemist, creating drinks with various homemade syrups, spices, and herbs. Additionally, the bar proudly showcases several bottles of the Hungarian herb liqueur Unicum, which is popular with visitors. If you’re looking for a low-key luxury bar with incredible drinks, then make sure to visit Bar Shiki! 

Why should I check out a luxury bar in Japan?

If you’re looking for an innovative bar experience, then these bars in Japan should definitely be on your radar! From omakase cocktail courses to fusion cocktails and speakeasy-inspired bars, there’s something fun and unique for any cocktail lover to enjoy! Many of these bars also utilize local and seasonal ingredients, giving you the best gastronomic experience in Japan. What’s your favorite cocktail and why? Which luxury bar would you like to visit the most? Let us know in the comments below!

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