Here Are The Best Cocktail Bars in Tokyo

Tokyo’s cocktail scene is alive and well!

The city is full of highly skilled bartenders perfecting their craft and pushing creative mixology to the highest order. Whether you want a cocktail made with traditional Japanese ingredients, or a tea-tail made with booze and tea, or the most perfect whisky highball there is, you can find all of the above and more at the best cocktail bars in Tokyo!

APOLLO BAR GINZA

Japan, 〒104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo City, Ginza, 8 Chome−2−15 地下1階 MEIKO BLDG.

Apollo Bar is a timeless institution in Tokyo’s cocktail scene. Revered bartender and owner, Hidenori Komatsu, worked with Suntory for over two decades before opening this speakeasy in Ginza that’s named after the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Everything about Apollo Bar is classic, unbothered and low-key. Tom Waits is the only music you’ll hear, and Komatsu is the only bartender that you’ll see in the dim, intimate space.

Apollo Bar Chocolate Orange
Apollo Bar Chocolate Orange. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Apollo Bar whiskey highball
Apollo Bar whiskey highball. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Apollo Bar Pistazier
Apollo Bar Pistazier. PHOTO NADIA CHO

At Apollo Bar, get ready for the most immaculate whisky highballs you will ever have the pleasure of consuming. For each highball, Komatsu deftly sculpts a long ice block into a geometric coffin shape of his own design, then theatrically fans the ice to get the temperature just right to keep the carbonation chilled. The sodas used at Apollo Bar are homemade with natural water and the bar has an ideal selection of whiskies and scotch curated to perfection; although the highballs will be made with Suntory unless you request otherwise. The result is the most fantastic whisky highball that’s crisp, with the perfect balance of flavor and carbonation that will make your mouth tingle.

Apollo Bar whisky
Apollo Bar whisky. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Apollo Bar
Apollo Bar. PHOTO NADIA CHO

At Apollo Bar, get ready for the most immaculate whisky highballs you will ever have the pleasure of consuming. For each highball, Komatsu deftly sculpts a long ice block into a geometric coffin shape of his own design, then theatrically fans the ice to get the temperature just right to keep the carbonation chilled. The sodas used at Apollo Bar are homemade with natural water and the bar has an ideal selection of whiskies and scotch curated to perfection; although the highballs will be made with Suntory unless you request otherwise. The result is the most fantastic whisky highball that’s crisp, with the perfect balance of flavor and carbonation that will make your mouth tingle.

MIXOLOGY SALON

Japan, 〒104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo City, Ginza, 6 Chome−10−1 GINZA SIX 13F

Located on the top floor of the swanky Ginza Six shopping center, Mixology Salon is a can’t-miss destination for any cocktail aficionado passing through Tokyo. Mixology Salon is an elegantly minimalist cocktail lounge with a focus on Japanese teas, aka tea-tails. The bar is cozy and only seats eight. The menu features elaborately prepared original tea-tails that you truly won’t find anywhere else.

Mixology Salon
Mixology Salon. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Mixology Salon Genmai Negroni
Mixology Salon Genmai Negroni. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Mixology Salon teatails
Mixology Salon teatails. PHOTO NADIA CHO

For lovers of stiff classics, go for the Gyokuro Martini which features two kinds of vodka infused with gyokuro green tea; one from Kyoto and the other from Fukuoka. The Hoji tea-tail #2 is a fabulously bittersweet elixir, mixed with aromatic and bitter hoji tea, Fonseca vintage port, cognac and Cassis.

The bar’s must-try item is the Green Tea Fashioned made with Maker’s Mark and Koval rye whiskey, kuromitsu sugar syrup and freshly whipped matcha whose powerful flavors shine through. There’s a hot, slightly dressed-down version of the matcha cocktail, which is also made with freshly prepared matcha, Disaronno and Hakushu single malt whisky.

There’s also the Genmai Negroni, a bitter and balanced number where the campari doesn’t overpower the delicate flavors of the genmai tea-infused gin. With a long list of elevated signature cocktails, Mixology Salon shows off the best talent in Japanese mixology.

Mixology Salon Gyokuro martini
Mixology Salon Gyokuro martini. PHOTO NADIA CHO

 

Mixology Salon Green Tea Fashioned
Mixology Salon Green Tea Fashioned. PHOTO NADIA CHO

FOLKLORE

日比谷OKUROJI G27, 1 Chome-7-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0011, Japan

From the same folks behind Mixology Salon comes Folklore, a cocktail bar which focuses on traditional Japanese spirits, mainly sake and shochu. Folklore is a beautiful bar decorated with natural and traditional motifs which transports you back in time.

Folklore traditional Japanese cocktail bar
Folklore traditional Japanese cocktail bar. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Folklore’s cocktails are fresh, colorful, and evocative as they are rooted in a firm sense of place and terroir. Start with the Aromatic wood x Sake cocktail, made with sake, Kyara vodka, white port, butterscotch and a geisha ice ball made of coffee ice. The flavors are smooth and aromatic as they all complement each other perfectly. There are colorful items like Strawberry Forest made with kaze no mori sake, Hanezu double strawberry gin, white port wine and strawberry port wine, which make a whimsical and fruity bouquet of flavors.

Folklore Aromatic wood x Sake cocktail
Folklore Aromatic wood x Sake cocktail. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Folklore
Folklore. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Folklore Sleepy Banana Fashioned
Folklore Sleepy Banana Fashioned. PHOTO NADIA CHO

For a real blast to the past, Origin is a highly original cocktail made with Doburoku unfiltered sake, chamomile vodka, pear vodka and honey. There’s lots of flavor and texture from the sake lees remaining in the cloudy sake. For a stiffer but still-balanced option, the Sleepy Banana Fashioned is a fun mix of 22-year-old Sleeping Elephant banana-infused shochu, orange bitters and frozen banana that’s caramelized before your eyes.

Folklore Petal Paloma
Folklore Petal Paloma. PHOTO NADIA CHO

For those who wish to do a comprehensive tasting of various drinks, Folklore offers omakase courses for sake or shochu cocktails as well. Folklore offers travelers a beautiful way to experience traditional Japanese culture in cocktail form.

Folklore Origin
Folklore Origin. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Tír na nÓg

Japan, 〒104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo City, Ginza, 5 Chome−9−5 チアーズ銀座 B1

Tir na nóg is an instant hit among anyone who loves fantasy, fairies and steampunk. This fantastical cocktail bar located in a basement in Ginza, transports you to another world. Iron keys, fairy dust and butterflies hang from the walls and the ceiling in the dimly lit yet dramatic space with lots of plush seating on comfy armchairs.

Tir na nog fairy theme
Tir na nog fairy theme. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Tir na nog Ash Backwards
Tir na nog Ash Backwards. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Tir na nog Pink Tako
Tir na nog Pink Tako. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Keeping with the theme, the drinks are just as fantastical as the decor. You’ll see patrons sipping on cocktails with over-the-top garnishes like sky-high cotton candy or macarons. The scandalously named Pink Tako might be the most outrageous cocktail on the menu, made with cranberry gin and yuzu, then served with grilled squid tentacles. The cocktail list leans towards the floral and fruity side, featuring flavors like grapefruit, yuzu, shiso, berries and lots of white rum.

Come for the dramatic decor and stay for the over-the-top drinks at Tir na nóg, where fantasy and steampunk fans are welcome.

Tir na nog pixie dust
Tir na nog pixie dust. PHOTO NADIA CHO

LIQUID FACTORY

Japan, 〒150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Udagawacho, 42−12 SALON渋谷 1F

Liquid Factory is a godsend for those who want a low-key bar which still serves excellent drinks whenever they find themselves in chaotic Shibuya. Liquid Factory is a cozy hole-in-the-wall type space that’s set up like a grungy minimalist garage that has hip-hop sounding from the speakers at all times of day. There’s not a lot of seating so most patrons will have to stand, but the plus side is that there’s no cover charge at the bar. Unsurprisingly, the bar owner, Keita Saito, is the coolest cat you’ll meet for miles, with sleeve tattoos and a friendly smile. You can even buy the one-off hats and bartender apron he has on, as they’re all merch made by his hospitality company, Liquid Works.

Liquid Factory Buddha's Day Off
Liquid Factory Buddha’s Day Off. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Liquid Factory in Shibuya
Liquid Factory in Shibuya. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Liquid Factory
Liquid Factory. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Liquid Factory has one of the dopest cocktail menus you will ever try. The cocktails heavily feature syrups, flavors and mixes which the team makes in-house themselves. When we visited, Saito had just returned from an inspiration trip to Brazil, from which he brought back various ingredients, wood and flavors to use for his recipes. His highly original cocktails include the Hoppin’ n Groovin’ which is mixed with homemade banana gin and an Aussie IPA called Metamorphosis. The banana gin is very smooth and very flavorful, plus the refreshing notes from the IPA make your tastebud tingle. Our personal favorite was Buddha’s Day Off which features homemade sandalwood rum infused with bergamot. It’s the perfect flavor profile for those who love a refreshing drink that’s not too sweet or too stiff.

Liquid Factory owner Keita
Liquid Factory owner Keita. PHOTO NADIA CHO

The Bellwood