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Best bars and drinks in Ebisu (Tokyo)
Having lived in Tokyo for two and a half years I had plenty of practice to get this right. Ebisu is my favourite place in the world to head out for a night of bar wandering, incredible drinks, and laughs.
Fruit Cocktail at Matsutora 松虎
Start here just after 7pm when it opens. You want it quiet and to yourself, trust me. Ask for a fruit cocktail, and they will present a bowl of seasonal fruits that they pair with different alcohols to make the most incredible fruit cocktails you will ever drink. The ambiance of this bar is truly something else with the wood panels, stone, and open coal fires. Not cheap, so maybe just stay for one.
Monkey Gin Fizz at Bar Trench
This place is incredible and without a doubt my favourite place on this list. When you get here you will understand why. Its elegance comes through in every little detail. Whilst I can recommend every drink on the menu (which changes seasonally), given the night you have ahead of you I’d recommend you keep it light and the Money Gin Fizz is delicate, invigorating, and luscious. Bar Trench is tiny and fills up quickly so be sure not to dawdle on your way here. If it is full, I recommend heading instead to the next optional bar: Bar Triad.
Old Fashioned at Bar Triad (optional additional stop)
Same owners as Bar Trench (and their third is an absinthe bar called Bar Tram- if you are feeling very bold then consider it the optional-optional additional stop). This place is really hard to find, you need to keep an eye for the minimal branded sign Ultimately you walk to the back of the building and there will be a tiny lift that barely holds 3 people and continuously plays The Beatles as elevator music. Take the lift to the 4th floor. The menu here is different from Bar Trench, though still changes seasonally, but remains world-class. I recommend trying their Yoichi Old Fashioned, it packs a punch (as you would expect from an Old Fashioned) however is still smooth and somehow delicate. A dangerously good drink.
Food pit stop @ Ebisu Yokocho
A ‘Yokocho’ is a traditional Japanese arcade full of small restaurants and bars. They are one of the wonders of the nightlife of Japan and are lively and fun. Whilst you will have your choice of where to eat, for those who are feeling adventurous I recommend the Horse Nigiri that you will find in the stalls in the middle of Ebisu Yokocho. For those averse to smapling the horse, just walk around and you’ll find something that is more to your taste.
Frozen Nihonshu (sake) at buri
After the excitement of Ebisu Yokocho, and to assist with your digestion from the horse sashimi, next up swing by buri which is a standing sake bar. Unlike the previous bars, this is a lot easier to find! It’s a super fun bar that is open late and has a great vibe to it. The specialty here is the Frozen Nihonshu (or sake) which will leave you baffled and theorising about what just happened.
Nama Bieru (draft beer) at Luxis
This is one of those places you have to see it to believe. From the entry, head down two flights of stairs and you end up in this cavernous red room with slightly-off Italian styling and … wait for it … a two-story glass aquarium with incredible coral fish and even a large turtle! See why this plan waited until you had several drinks under your belt to land here? Weird and wonderful Japan baby! This place is open late and they also do a tasty Margarita Pizza that is reasonably priced at 980 yen (full disclosure, have never eaten this pizza sober). After all the walking, talking and turtle excitement I’d recommend ordering a crisp Nama Bieru or Draft Beer and sit back and reflect on the night.
If you still have life left in you, remember tomorrow is another day and Tokyo is the city that keeps on giving, if you keep on exploring. Or head to Karaoke…
To find these on the map to check out exactly where they are, or to rate them or add them to your own lists, click to check MyLists here on my profile. Of course, if I am missing anything or if you have ideas to share, please comment below.
Left off the list though of note:
Whiskey (Hibiki 17) @ Bar Martha
This just misses the list because people tend to have a love or hate relationship with this bar depending on their service, which has a reputation of treating foreigners differently. It’s still an incredible space that oozes style with some amazing vinyl always playing. It’s a whiskey bar and you’ll have a lot of choices though if you only having a couple I suggest splashing out on the Hibiki 17.
Whiskey (Nikka Coffey) @ Bar Urushi
If you are serious about your scotch and whiskey then I recommend you sub this bar into the itinerary. Whilst Bar Martha above is a more standard whiskey bar, this is a serious step deeper into the whiskey world. Bar Urushi has a menu that’s so thick it will remind you of an old telephone book. Behind the bar you will find what has to be one of the suavest and most knowledgeable barmen in Tokyo. The fit-out is lacquered wood and it’s the type of place you can easily spend a night in and never leave, though be warned it’s easy to get carried away and amass a bill large enough to pull Japan out of recession. I have a weak spot for good whiskey, and it’s particularly soft for Nikka Coffey Whiskey. Don’t say you weren’t warned.