3 Bars Where You Can Meet Legendary Bartenders
This bar brilliantly lights up Tokyo's nightlife.
It's always fun to check out the shops of up-and-coming young chefs, but when you've come all the way to Tokyo, you'll want to try Japan's best cocktails shaken by legendary bartenders during the night.
This article will introduce 3 long-standing bars run by legendary bartenders whose names are known far and wide.
Finish off your sightseeing in Tokyo with a delightful cocktail and just let time pass you by.
1. BAR HOSHI IRIS
This bar's owner, Yuuichi Hoshi, was awarded overall best at the Nippon Bartenders Association's 1998 nationwide tournament of skill, and in 2001 he came in first at the International Bartenders Competition, making him the best bartender in the world.
His original cocktail, "Sakura Sakura," crowned the best in the world, is a slightly sweet short cocktail themed after the ephemeral beauty of cherry blossoms (sakura).
"Since it was to be introduced at an international competition, I wanted to make something that would let even foreigners get a feel for Japan. Cocktails are showy and dreamy, so I make them with a story in mind to tell."
Hoshi, called the "most successful bartender in Ginza," has already established 8 store locations.
Supposedly he travels between the 8 locations as he sees fit to flourish his shaker, with no set pattern to where he'll end up next.
He has said that, "If you ask the staff and they give me a call, I'll hurry on over if I'm nearby," so maybe it's not so impossible to get a chance to experience the legend himself.
Address: AOKI TOWER 2F 6-3-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
[Monday-Friday] 19:00-3:00 the following day
[Saturday, Sunday, Holidays] 19:00-1:00 the following day
Regularly closed: None
2. STAR BAR GINZA
The head of this bar, Hisashi Kishi, won what's said to be the world's greatest cocktail competition at just 31 years of age.
Thanks to his competitive cocktail-making skills, he is the first bartender to be recognized as a "Contemporary Master Craftsman," and he is currently the head of the Nippon Bartenders Association.
Kishi never uses expensive liquor, instead crafting each of his unique cocktails using his years of research and his impressive skills.
For example, he changes the speed of his shakes as well as the shaker's trajectory for each different cocktail he makes.
One of his shaking methods, called the "infinity shake," also moves from left to right as it's being shaken back and forth, and due to its complexity it's said that the only person in the world able to pull it off is Kishi himself.
Kishi's signature cocktail is the brandy-based "Sidecar."
The bubbly foam made using the infinity shake can't be replicated in the Sidecar of any other bar, and it creates a light flavor that seems to almost melt in your mouth.
Address: B1F 1-5-13 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Regularly closed: None
This long-standing Tokyo bar has attracted droves of cultured patrons and celebrities alike.
Akio Watanabe, this bar's owner and a legendary bartender in his own right, trained at famous bars in Ginza and Ueno after graduating from high school, and around 45 years ago he opened "EST!"
Back then there weren't any books that you could study to learn how to make cocktails, so he thought of his drinks' flavor profiles himself and adjusted based on the reactions of his customers.
Even today he still maintains that same approach to making cocktails.
He's in search of the "best drinks" for different types of weather and physical conditions.
During the cold season, he recommends an "Irish Coffee," Irish whiskey poured into hot coffee and topped with fresh cream.
The aroma of the Irish whiskey, hiding in the coffee's bitter flavors, creates a delightful drink.
Address: 3-45-3 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Regularly closed: Sundays