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10 Best Tokyo Bars in 2018

By Catherine Flores
July 11, 2019
Updated: July 16, 2019

An exciting city, one of the best things about Tokyo is how lively and colorful the nightlife is. Your evening can begin by visiting the comforts of an izakaya with its familiar ice-cold drinks and grilled skewers, maybe a cocktail or two in a high-end Tokyo bar, sing in an all-night karaoke pub like in the movie Lost in Translation, or dance the night away in a hole-in-a-wall Tokyo bar while listening to the soft beats curated from the spinning discs of the DJ. Tokyo is home to some of the most diverse, bustling, and definitely one of a kind nightlife there is. It can be overwhelming with so many choices but the key to finding the right Tokyo bar is knowing where you want to drink, what you want to drink and what kind of crowd you want to be in. But whatever it is that you seek, there’s always a Tokyo bar in the corner street and it won’t leave you high and dry.

10 Tokyo Bars You Should Visit

1) Bar Kokage

Whether you just want to unwind after a loaded day at work or maybe just want to find solace in the drink you’re holding, drinking alone has its perks and you become aware of your surroundings and your thoughts. A perfect Tokyo bar for deep thoughts would be Bar Kokage. It opened in 1977 and was the top of mind choice of novelist and former Suntory employee Takeshi Kaiko. This classic bar has an ageless charm which is one of the things people come back to after they had their first visit. Their signature drink Kaiko Martini is a winner, a gin cooled to minus 25-degree Celsius. With their lavish décor, fine architecture, and beautiful atmosphere, one can order a drink and relax to the tune of fine jazz playing in the background. It’s the perfect place for those who want to find some quiet time for themselves while enjoying the beauty and delicious taste of a fine martini drink.

2) Angels’ Share

A bar is also a great place to hold a date. Get your romance brewing while having a drink or two over thoughtful, sweet conversations with your date in Angels’ Share. Its name was derived from a belief that every year, a portion of maturing drinks evaporate and this lost portion of drink is said to be drunk by angels, hence the name angels’ share. With its classic décor, a bold color of rich brown for background, and carefully decorated glasses in cabinets and barrels, it’s the best place to go with your partner to have a drink. The bar has friendly barmen behind the counter who will help you choose your choice of drink for the night or maybe recommend their best drinks for the couple.

3) Tenderly

If fine craft of a drink is what you’re looking for, Tokyo has endless choices of bars you can choose from and one of them is a master’s bar. It’s not for casual boozers because these barmen make some of the most handsome and one of a kind drinks in the world. They’re always the top of mind of people who want a carefully crafted drink and Tenderly is a great place to start. It’s a privilege to be served by the bar’s resident bartender Yuko Miyazaki who make mixing and making classic cocktails a walk in the park. She’s a local sensation and holds bartending classes at Tenderly bimonthly. If you’re visiting during sakura season, better ready yourself to queue up as early as five in the afternoon because it can get pretty crowded in the bar. Miyazaki’s Adagio, which is one of her classic mixed drinks, is said to have the perfect blend and balance of a drink that most people said to have brought tears to their eyes.

4) The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon Restaurant & Bar

A drink in hand and a breathtaking view is one of the few things most people crave for. Whether you’re burnout from work or just want to spend some quality time alone or with the company, nothing beats a beautiful view in front of you while you sip on chug on your beer or sip on your cocktail. The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon Restaurant & Bar is the best place for such a thing. It’s located on the 13th floor of the hotel, with fine tables and chairs outside, overlooking the quiet and peaceful state of the city. French food is served and with a fancy selection of fine drinks and a view that’s breathtaking, it’s no wonder a lot of people go here. It can be pretty hard to book a reservation but once you’re in, you probably won’t want to leave right away and savor every moment in the bar. You will enjoy the few hours of uninterrupted beauty of the city and the night in this wonderful Tokyo bar.

The Gate Hotel

5) Bar Branche

There are lots of old bars in Tokyo and whether you’re coming in alone or with some friends, a drink and conversations are always a good mix. Bar Branche is the kind of bar that you’d want to go back to over and over again. The place is beautifully bold in hues of brown and cream, where there’s a glowing gold in color of an elegant lamp in the door. This Tokyo bar is no longer a newcomer in the neighborhood and has been serving sophisticated rare bottles of wine and quality cigars for years. It gives off that natural laidback vibe to its guests, making them comfortable in their seats while they drink and relax. Head over to the counter and order up some of their best bottle of wine or maybe some cocktails to beat the blues.

6) Popeye

If you’re the type of person who swears by Super Dry or maybe Sapporo, you are more than welcome to visit beer bars in Tokyo. Some of them import beers from other countries while some brew their own concocted drinks, supporting the local microbrew scene. What started as a Western-izakaya, the legendary Popeye is where beer drinkers and enthusiasts go for that perfect ice-cold drink. They have more than 70 types of tap beers which are all produced in Japanese breweries. You can sit with your groups with designated tables and chairs but if you really want to know more about your beer and chat away with fellow drinkers, the best place to stay is at the bar where knowledgeable staffs will give you some of the most unfamiliar but really good stuff in the bar.

Popeye inside

7) Bar Buta-Bako

Bars are everywhere in Tokyo and they come in various sizes of places. Most of them are built big and wide so that more people would come but every now and then you come across someplace small and colorful and you begin to wonder where this place had been all your life. A perfect example is Bar Buta-Bako, a tiny little bar which can only accommodate five people. This hidden gem is sandwiched between a Chinese restaurant and a relatively bigger bar but if you like someone new and interesting, this bar is for you. The bar staff changes every day so there’s always a great chance to have new conversations with them. Loyal guests of the bar tend to recommend to newcomers that when ordering drinks, just leave it all up to the bar staff because they know the best drink you need. If you’re lucky, you get to meet the resident cat who lives in the bar.

Bar Buta-Bako

8) Bar Plat

Japan is not only known for its famous sake (rice wine) but also for their fascination and adoration with whiskey. Over the years, Japan bagged a lot of top prizes when it comes to whiskey competitions and you can already tell that Japanese people know their whiskey well. Literally, a hidden gem, Bar Plat operates it business at the back street close to the station, filling up people’s glasses with some of the best whiskey drinks in the city. They have been doing great business when it comes to whiskey long before it garnered its current attention and situation. If you’re swinging by this beautiful place, don’t forget to order their popular Ichiro’s Malt, a product of Saitama’s Chichibu Distillery. What’s more, it’s a locally grown malt so it’s one of the finest whiskey out there.

9) Goldfinger Bar, Café Lavanderia

Meeting new people is always a great thing and in Japan, everyone is welcome: whether you’re straight, gay, or non-binary, the LGBT community will always deliver. Opposite of the famous Goldfinger Bar, Café Lavanderia is the kind of place where you’ll find yourself drinking and planning a plot to overthrow the patriarchy and start a revolution in your seat. This beautiful café gives off that nationalistic vibe where they serve top-quality drinks, be it alcoholic or non-alcoholic. There’s also a selection of books to read and browse and gigs and political talks every now and then. And you need not worry because the staff here not only speaks English but also Spanish. You better be careful though and have your eyes sharp on the clock because it’s set ten minutes in advance for you to know that you must get to Shinjuku Station to hop on the last train home.

10) 16Shots

Lastly, if you’re into themed bars and have always to don on an anime character’s clothes and act like one, there’s always an otaku bar somewhere tucked in the busy streets of Tokyo. Geek out in 16Shots, a themed bar where one can feel as if they’re inside a video game. While enjoying your ice-cold beer, you can play in their 1983 Nintendo Entertainment System which you can’t find anywhere else. There are also cheat codes for you to use when you’re already feeling frustrated losing the games. This bar also encourages its guests to bring their own games to share with fellow guests which are a great thing to become friends with people.

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan’s food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Catherine Flores
She’s cooking and baking for her family and friends. She finds grocery shopping therapeutic, always takes the longest time in the Asian section and debates with herself whether she needs that extra pack of instant ramen. A lover of sweets, she dreams of owning a patisserie and publishing her book but most of the time, she’s just really thinking of what to eat for breakfast the next day.
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