Cocktails in Tokyo
Going to be in Tokyo for four days in June. Where are the must goes in terms of really good cocktail bars. Looking for small spots where you can really engage w/ the bartenders. I've read about the following:
Are any of these really that good? Any other suggestions?
Sounds like High Five is your place. Fluent English, very friendly, intimate, and run by one of those people that really deserve to be called "master bartender".
Star Bar is probably the most respected bar in the country, and rightly so, though whether it's friendly depends on your behaviour. Definitely somewhere you should see.
Neither Albatross nor La Jetee are cocktail bars, though both are fun.
Ishinohana is really down to earth, Little Smith isn't always. Radio Bar is good for dates, but not so much for chatting to the bartender. Tender is good if you have far too much money and want to pay to see someone sort-of famous. Never been to Shoto Club.
If you don't need fluent English, the new spinoff from Star Bar is Land Bar, and it's very intimate, with first-rate cocktails. You'll see techniques there that you won't see anywhere beyond Star Bar or High Five. Open from 3am too.
You could also check out the Bar a Vin in the Park hotel in Shiodome. The bartenders all speak English, make some inventive cocktails and have an amazing whisky collection. The head bartender is one of the few in Japan to have trained in Tokyo and New York.
Spent some time in Star Bar in my trip to Tokyo
Liked it very much/ The owner was there as was very friendly, and even the other staff who didn't speak much English went out of their way to be helpful
Really is a professional bar that's quite impressive. Small but well done
They did wonder how I had found the place (I'm a westerner), as the place seems more local biased - but its a simple search on the web... :)
They do have two other spots down the other end of Ginza, which are apparently more westerner/tourist orientated
I was mightily impressed by Star bar though..
Star Bar Ginza is extremely good, however I would only recommend it if you are speaking Japanese. Also, I would suggest not wear to casual, sporty clothes.
In the end, Star Bar is kind of a stiff place where the bartenders take making cocktails VERY VERY seriously. Most times I went the crowd was almost exclusively 50+ yrs old Japanese salary men. You should also consider that they are quite expensive: We (2) always end up paying something between 10000-15000 Yen for a couple of drinks and maybe some ham.