Japanese Bars (similar to Star Bar and Bar High Five in Tokyo)
We just got back from Tokyo and we are craving some of the incredible drinks we had at Star Bar and Bar High Five. Are there any bars similar to these in Los Angeles?
It seems a bit much to fly 12 hours for a Moscow Mule...
I don't know of any Japanese or Japanese style bars specifically. If you want a really good cocktail (whether classic or modern) at a place that takes its craft seriously, however, there are some good options around. My top picks (based on places I've been; there are certainly places that I still haven't visited) would probably be, roughly in order:
The Varnish (Downtown)
Tasting Kitchen (Venice)
Tar Pit (Hollywood).
None of these places are a total zoo, *but*, I don't think you'll find the kind of places you find in Tokyo where there are 10 or 15 seats total in the whole bar, and the place is only half-full.
If you haven't already, you should also check out this article from the most recent Imbibe:
as well as this list, and the associated feature:
Sorry if you already know all this and are looking for something more specific.
I was in Tokyo recently, and went to Kazuo Ueda's "Tender Bar", as well as one of his former apprentice's place, and a smaller place that specialized in American whiskey, and while I found the drinks excellent in Japan, I don't think the difference is anywhere near big enough to justify a 12 hour flight just for a drink. The style is slightly different, and I appreciate the attention to detail that the Japanese bartenders have, but I have had as good (or better) drinks at places in New York or Los Angeles.
The Tar Pit
609 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Yes. I believe I've recommended them in other threads on here, in fact. I've had good experiences there, especially when I've had Jason Bran making my drinks - I think he's got a great command of classic drinks, is good at reading people's preferences, and makes excellent, well balanced drinks. However, I didn't recommend it in my post above for a few reasons:
1) They let too many people in. The place is quite small, but it tends to get stuffed, even on weeknights. Difficult to get a seat, or even to have a conversation. Obviously, this is a matter of personal preference - maybe some people like the scene there.
2) Experience / quality of drinks isn't as consistent as at Varnish or some other places IMHO.
3) Can be a little on the gimmicky side, what with using stencils to spray bitters on the surface of drinks, over-use of the atomizer to spray absinthe / bitters, etc. Not to mention whatever drink that is with whipped cream on top?
4) The crowd.... it's good people watching, I guess... well I'm not going to say any more on this point, because it probably won't come out sounding very nice. Again, personal preference.
Overall, I do like Roger Room, and if it were closer, I'd probably visit more often, but based on my limited experiences in Japan, I think the 3 places I mentioned are a closer fit to what the OP is looking for.