How does one stake out the best cocktail bars in Tokyo when virtually every bar presents its drinks with immaculate attention to detail? The omotenashi tradition of hospitality can be sensed in the bartender’s precise pouring, stirring, and tasting before presenting each impeccable drink. The ingredients used in the cocktails are also heightened, including locally made syrups and bitters, and Japanese spirits such as shochu, sake, awamori, and whisky.
Many of the bars featured in this guide are an easy train ride away on the Yamanote Line – the major loop that connects Tokyo Station with Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ebisu and Ikebukuro. Each one has its own vibe and history, and all make masterful cocktails – many of these are listed as some of the best in Asia, if not the world. Continue your evening at one of Tokyo’s best yakitori restaurants or dive into the city’s acclaimed nightlife, before bedding down in one of these recommended hotels.
From tuxedo-wearing master mixologists and pocket-sized standing bars to sipping Japanese whisky highballs in a hidden cellar until late, here are the best cocktail bars in Tokyo. Kanpai!
Ginza and Yurakucho
Mori Bar Gran, Ginza
Best for: Martinis on the terrace
Location: Sakura Marks Ginza 6, 6-12-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Price: Drinks from 1900 JPY / 12.69 USD. 1000 JPY / 6.67 USD cover charge also includes a small snack and sake-sized cup of consommé
Mori Bar was established by Takao Mori, who is perhaps the most iconic bartender of Japan. Almost every bartender in the Tokyo cocktail scene currently earning accolades for their work has spent time studying under this martini master. Mori Bar’s martinis are the cleanest, purest around, and use Ki No Bi dry gin made especially for the bar in Kyoto – each bottle is marked with the bar’s name in resplendent calligraphy. Grab a seat on the rooftop terrace, or beside the yaezakura (multi-petalled cherry tree) on the terrace, with views of Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree.
Best For: Iconic cocktails and a sublime spectrum of Japanese whisky
Location: Sanwa Ginza Bldg, B1, 6-4-9 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Price: Drinks from 2200 JPY / 14.70 USD. Service fee of 1000 JPY / 6.67 USD gets you a small snack
Husband and wife duo Kazuma and Tamiko Matsuo are award-winning bartenders that trained under master Mori before establishing their own Bar Landscape in Ginza. Drinks are shaken by black tie bartenders and served in a warm, atmospherically lit environment, with highlights including the whisky sour, tomato martini and passion fruit cocktail. There’s an excellent list of Japanese whiskies, and classic cocktails like the gimlet. In what can feel like an all-male bartender scene, Bar Landscape is a refreshing change.
Old Imperial Bar
Best For: Exemplary service in a historic setting
Location: Imperial Hotel, Mezzanine, 1-1-1 Uchisaiwai-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Price: Drinks from 3050 JPY / 20 USD. Service fee of 1400 JPY / 10 USD which gets you a small dish
A bastion of Tokyo’s cocktail scene, Old Imperial Bar marked its centenary in 2023. It is set in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Imperial Hotel, and preserves the US modernist’s designs throughout, from the furnishing to the etched glassware. Lloyd Wright designed the hotel from 1913 to 1922, and lived and worked in Tokyo throughout the build. During this time, he visited gardens, waterfalls and temples, which inspired some of his other projects such as Falling Water in Pennsylvania. Stepping inside the warm, inviting Old Imperial Bar is like entering a film set in the roaring 20s.
Best For: Revered mixology using seasonal Japanese ingredients in a dark and seductive setting
Location: Yagi Bldg, 2 FL, 3-6-2 Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Price: Drinks from 1200 JPY / 8 USD. 500 JPY / 3.34 USD service charge gets you a small snack
Bar Ishinohana serves perhaps the best old fashioned in all of Tokyo. The umami-laden cocktail is built with Hakushu whisky that has been steeped in shiitake mushrooms for 36 hours, and mixed with umami bitters and garnished with mushroom. There is also an excellent green tea old fashioned, as well as sake and camomile martini. Anthony Bourdain was a fan of this bar, and it’s easy to picture him sitting at the dimly lit dark wooden counter enjoying the drinks. The menu changes monthly with seasonal produce, making repeat visits a must. While Bar Ishinohana is an upscale destination, it has a more casual air than other locations on this list.
Best for: Innovative cocktails in an atmospheric interior
Location: 41-31 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0042
Price: Drinks from 1500 JPY / 10 USD
Walk uphill from the hubbub of Hachiko Exit and Shibuya Crossing and continue as the street becomes quieter and you will reach The Bellwood, whose cinematic setting wouldn’t be out of place in a period-piece drama. World-class bartender Atsushi Suzuki and his team, clad in white lab coats, serve creative, fascinating cocktails here, in a cosy, wood panelled setting inspired by kissaten – coffee shops from the early 20th century Taisho period – with hints of a western saloon. The cocktails have a particular focus on incorporating tea and coffee, and the bar also serves brunch, bbq collaborations, and other bites.
The SG Club
Best for: Speakeasy feel in three contrasting bars
Location: 1-7-8 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Price: Drinks from 1500 JPY / 10 USD
The nearby sister venue to The Bellwood, SG Club is a conglomeration of three bars: Sip, a raucous, industrial speakeasy in the basement; Guzzle, a wood-clad lounge and cafe space on the ground floor; and Savor, a members-only cigar and cocktail club. The bar was founded by Shingo Gokan, who has equally lauded bars in Shanghai. The inspiration for the interiors is the first recorded voyage of a Japanese ship to America in 1860, and blends Japanese and American references. The SG Club is the sibling of SG Low, which is considered one of the best izakaya in Tokyo. If you’re peckish, head round the corner and check it out.
Best For: Refined local standing bar
Location: 1-5-8 DIS Bld. 102, Ebisu-nishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Price: Drinks from 1760 JPY / 11.75 USD. 500 JPY / 3.34 USD service charge
Ebisu, a district in Shibuya, boasts a number of restaurants, izakaya and tachinomi (standing bars). On a narrow Tokyo side street near Ebisu Station is the diminutive 23 sq m Bar Trench. Its cocktails focus particularly on absinthe, and combine the spirit with herbal liqueurs and a range of bitters such as yuzu and cardamon. Highlights on the seasonally changing menu are the Nikka coffee gin with sparkling sake, a bloody mary with tomato juice from Nagano, and a mezcal milk punch with pear brandy green tea. The bartenders are incredibly knowledgeable, and make use of the biggest bitters collection in Japan. As the bar fills up, expect to stand outside on the street, expertly made drink in hand. For a guaranteed seat, consider making a reservation at Bar Trench Annex.
Best For: Private industrial setting
Location: 13-7 Daikanyama B1 Bellby Daikanyama, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Price: Drinks from 1800 JPY / 12 USD. 600 JPY / 4 USD cover charge also provides small snacks
Flying Bumblebee is made up of one long table in the centre of the room, giving it the feel of a private dining room, while exposed concrete walls, a black lacquered bar and strip lighting provide an edgy, industrial atmosphere to the basement space. The female-owned bar is a three-minute stroll from Daikanyama, a neighbourhood known as Tokyo’s Little Brooklyn, owing to its many galleries, restaurants and boutiques. Original cocktails make use of Japanese amaro and Hinoki whisky, including an aviation martini, and mezcal martini. Make sure to try the cream puff dessert, made with absinthe ice cream.
Best For: Jazz, folk and classical records with an old fashioned
Location: 2 F Matsumoto Bldg, 3-9-2 Shinjuku, Tokyo
Price: Drinks from 1800 JPY / 12 USD. Service charge of 1000 JPY / 6.67 USD also includes a small snack
Bar Nika is a listening bar hidden just off Shinjuku-sanchome. Loud talking is discouraged, but the vintage sound system is so superb that you’ll simply want to relish the sound. Photos are not permitted, so there is an electric sense that you have discovered a genuine neighbourhood secret. While the bar specialises in whisky and craft gin, bartender Ichi-san can make all kinds of classic cocktails. He’ll first cut the ice by hand and place it in a thin glass, followed by slices of lemon and sugar cubes doused in bitters. To sip an old fashioned by Ichi-san is to be transported back to the age of bebop. There are only seven stools here, so if it’s full, check out Bar Nika’s sister establishments Bar Martha in Ebisu and Bar Track in Shibuya.
Best For: Vibey basement bar; artisanal fruit-based cocktails served in various Japanese vessels
Location: 3-25-8 B1, Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Price: Drinks from 1800 JPY / 12 USD
Bar Libre’s famous nitrogen and smoking gun cocktails are a must try – or simply tell the bartender your favourite fruit and they will recommend an according cocktail. Other menu highlights include the Asian pear cocktails, pomegranate Jack Rose, myoga drinks and shishito margarita, served in Japanese ceramics and glassware. For food, we recommend trying one of their curries or the horse sashimi from Kumamoto.
Little Soul Cafe
Best For: Mezcal sipping to a vinyl soundtrack
Location: 22nd FL, Taisei Bldg, 3-20-2 Kitazawa, Shimokitazawa
Prices: 800 JPY / 5.30 USD for cocktails
Shimo, as the area is nicknamed, is known for its vintage shops and cafes. Little Soul Cafe is a listening bar that allows you to choose from 100-plus varieties of mezcal. Perch at the eight-seat counter, or one of the comfy sofas, and sit back as the bartender picks a record from the 1400-strong collection.
Coffee Bar Cielo
Best For: Coffee-based cocktails, laidback vibe
Location: 2-55-12 Sangenjaya, Setagaya, Tokyo
Price: Drinks from 770 JPY / 5.15 USD. Service charge includes a small snack
Coffee Bar Cielo is dedicated to boozy concoctions using house-roasted coffee. All the bottles are enclosed in wooden cabinets behind the bar, which are panelled in traditional kumiko woodwork. Select between herby or smoky espresso martinis mixed with Laphroaig whisky, or try an incredibly balanced coffee-infused pisco sour. You can also choose flame-lit, boozy coffee in two ways: sweet with sherry, or bitter.
Best For: Vintage records and cool cocktails to match
Location: Kagurazaka 5 2F, 5-26 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Price: Drinks from 1200 JPY / 8 USD
The neighbourhood of Kagurazaka is known for its French restaurants and one of the last surviving geisha and maiko communities outside of Kyoto. It’s also home to Ahiru Sha, a casual bar with a vintage 1950s record player and Showa-era vinyl (1926-1989). Smoking is permitted here, but there is a non-smoking section too. Try whisky-based cocktails like a sazerac, or a paloma, mezcal negroni, or Boccie ball.
Best For: Hyper-seasonal cocktails to celebrate each ingredient
Location: Anniversary Building 1F, 1-6-4 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Price: Cover charge of 1000 JPY / 6.70 USD
If a cocktail bar could be meditative, it’s here, at Gen Yamamoto’s gorgeous one-piece wooden bar. Instead of records playing, the only sound is the muddling of ice and the pouring of drinks. You’ll need to book your visit at least seven days in advance, but it’s worth it. The drinks are served by the white tuxedo-wearing owner as part of a set omakase menu of four to seven cocktails, and all make the most of seasonal ingredients. The bar is set in Azabu Juban, on the main shopping street.