Drinking and nightlife in Tokyo

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Harajuku & Aoyama

    Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience

    Tea master (and former bartender) Sakurai Shinya's contemporary teahouse is a must-visit for anyone hoping to deeper their understanding of o-cha (Japanese tea). The course includes several varieties – you might be surprised how different tea can taste – paired with small bites, including some beautiful traditional sweets. Come in the evening (¥500 cover charge after 7pm) for tea cocktails. Reservations recommended.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Kōrakuen & Akihabara

    Imasa

    It's not every day you get to sip your coffee or tea in a cultural property. Imasa is the real deal, an old timber merchant's shophouse dating from 1927 but with Edo-era design and detail, and a few pieces of contemporary furniture. Very few houses like this exist in Tokyo or are open to the public.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    Bar BenFiddich

    Bar BenFiddich is dark and tiny, with vials of infusions on the shelves and herbs hung to dry from the ceiling. The English-speaking barman, Kayama Hiroyasu, in a white suit, moves like a magician. There's no menu, so just tell him what you like and he'll concoct something delicious for you (we like the gimlet with herbs). Expect to pay around ¥2000 per drink.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Shibuya & Shimo-Kitazawa

    SG Club

    SG stands for 'Sip' and 'Guzzle' but also for award-winning bartender Shingo Gokan. Ground-floor Guzzle is a social, counter space; the house drink is chawari, shōchū and tea (¥1400), made with gyokuro (high-grade green tea) and with a new twist every month. Downstairs, Sip is intimate booths and deliciously complex concoctions, like the Rain & Moss Gin Fizz'(¥1700), flavoured with proprietary extractions and infusions.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Marunouchi & Nihombashi

    Ao

    This swank and sophisticated little salon – think red velvet banquettes, round, low tables and shelves of books – has a unique cocktail focus: tea and traditional Chinese medicine. For example: its version of a sidecar is made with aged roasted tea, cinnamon and ginger (the latter two considered to fortifying properties). And if you just want tea, they serve that, too.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Roppongi, Akasaka & Around

    Gen Yamamoto

    Gen Yamamoto takes the seaonal tasting menu concept and applies it to cocktails. Here they're made with fruits and herbs, with the same kind of devotion to presentation seen at restaurants serving kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine). Choose from sets of four (¥4800), six (¥6900) or seven (¥7800). Fear not, they're designed to be savoured, not to get you sozzled (servings are small).

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Shibuya & Shimo-Kitazawa

    Mikkeller Tokyo

    Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is a pioneer 'gypsy brewer', one who dreams up wild concoctions, but outsources the actual brewing. His beers are served at world-famous restaurants and also at the select bars scattered across the globe that bear his name, including this recently opened one in Tokyo. Most of the 20 brews on tap are his, but there are also some Japanese craft beers, too.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Ebisu, Meguro & Around

    Gem by Moto

    Gem specialises in boutique sakes collected from all over Japan. There's a menu, which is always changing, but if you're here to broaden your appreciation of the myriad styles of nihonshū (and that's why everyone is here), it's best to leave the choosing to the savvy people behind the counter. Tell them what you like and don't like; you're in good hands.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    Lonely

    Arai-san established Lonely 50 years ago because he wanted his friends to always have a place to go. Some of those friends, like the creator of classic manga Ashita no Joe – you'll see posters on the wall – also happened to be famous. Lonely is everything you want a Golden Gai bar to be: rough around the edges but warm and full of character(s).

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Ebisu, Meguro & Around

    Yakumo Saryō

    Shinichiro Ogata, head of design house Simplicity has put everything into creating his ideal contemporary take on the traditional Japanese teahouse. The result: Yakumo Saryō, elegantly minamalist, with artisan crockery, a lightly tamed garden and a near-impossible to find location deep in a residential district. It's open all day, but asa-cha (morning tea service; 9am-10.30am) is a truly special experience; reservations essential.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    Zoetrope

    A must-visit for whisky fans, Zoetrope has over a hundred varieties of Japanese whisky behind its small counter, including many hard-to-find bottles and already sold-out limited editions. Cover charge ¥600; the average pour is ¥1500 to ¥2000 (reasonable, considering the going price for Japanese whisky these days) and there are some good-value tasting flights, too. Larger groups should come before 7.30pm.

  • Nightlife in Ginza & Tsukiji

    Ginza Lion

    So what if Sapporo's beers are not among the best you can quaff in Tokyo? Dating to 1934, the gorgeous art deco design at Japan's oldest beer hall – including glass mosaic murals – is to die for. The oom-pah-pah atmosphere, with waiters ferrying frothy mugs and plates of Bavarian-style sausages to the tables, is also priceless.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Kōrakuen & Akihabara

    Beer-Ma Kanda

    Down an alley of sketchy-looking drinking dens is this nirvana for craft-beer lovers. It's principally a bottle shop stocking hundreds of different beer brands, all of which you can buy and drink on the premises (corkage ¥200). There's also eight taps of barrel beer available with servings in a range of sizes.

  • Nightlife in Kōrakuen & Akihabara

    Craft Beer Server Land

    With some 14 Japanese craft beers on tap, going for a reasonable ¥500/840 a glass/pint, plus good food (the deep-fried eel in batter and chips is excellent), this brightly lit basement bar with wooden furniture and a slight Scandi feel is a winner.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Ginza & Tsukiji

    Ginza Music Bar

    A superb sound system showcases the 3000-plus vinyl collection that ranges from the likes of cool classic jazz to contemporary electronica. There are deep-blue walls and comfy seats in which to enjoy inventive cocktails (starting from ¥1400), such as the matcha and wasabi martini.

  • Nightlife in Asakusa & Sumida River

    Fuglen

    This Norwegian coffee and cocktail bar brings its oh-so-cool vintage Scandi stylings to Asakusa at this outlet opened in 2018. The coffee is very good but it's also a sophisticated place to chill in the evening over delicious concoctions, such as a rum and maple marmalade cocktail.

  • Nightlife in Marunouchi & Nihombashi

    Bridge Coffee & Icecream

    Occupying a corner plot and with big windows and a cool arty vibe this is one of the Bakurochō area's more pleasant cafes. The espresso or hand-drip coffees are well made and there's pastries and gourmet icecreams to savour alongside.

  • Nightlife in Shibuya & Shimo-Kitazawa

    Little Nap Coffee Stand

    Near Yoyogi-kōen's often overlooked west gate is this small coffee shop, popular with local dog walkers and joggers. Which isn't to say that convenience is the only appeal here: the lattes and single-origin pour-overs (¥450; from beans roasted at Little Nap's roaster up the street) are excellent. There's only a few seats; take your coffee to the park.

  • Nightlife in Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    Samurai

    Never mind the impressive record collection, this eccentric jazz kissa (cafe where jazz records are played) is worth a visit just for the owner's overwhelming collection of 2500 maneki-neko (beckoning cats). Running for over 40 years, it's a slice of old bohemian Shinjuku. It's polite to keep voices low, to appreciate the music.

  • Nightlife in Ginza & Tsukiji

    Turret Coffee

    Turret Coffee (right around the corner from Starbucks) makes some of Tokyo's best espresso drinks: the signature two-shot Turret latte (¥580) hits just the right balance and is photogenic to boot. The shop is named for the three-wheeled delivery trucks that beetle around Tokyo's fish market – there's one on the premises. Ideal for an early-morning espresso en route to or from Tsukiji Market.