Where to Drink + Dance in Tokyo

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Bar High Five

Tokyo, Japan

A tiny old-school institution that makes the perfect cocktails. Low lighting and an interesting mix of characters add an air of mystique.

Address

26 Polestar Building 4F 7-2-14 Ginza 104-0061

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Library Lounge These

Tokyo, Japan

An intimate late-night spot with a speakeasy vibe filled with vintage books and comfortable sofas. Sip on fresh fruit cocktails until the early hours of the morning.

Address

2-15-12 Nishi-Azabu Minato-kua 106-0031

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Bonobo

Tokyo, Japan

This achingly hip spot feels like you’re partying in someone’s house. It also has a secret club at the back that plays everything from electronic music to rock – check the listings on their website before you go.

Address

2-23-4 Jingumae Shibuya 150-0001

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Piano Bar

Tokyo, Japan

Once you find the ornately carved wooden door and get passed the ¥1,000 (£5) seating charge, you will sip on calvados from goblets in a sumptuous setting of red velvet and chandeliers. Be warned: it’s pretty small, with space only for eight…

Address

1-25-10 Shibuya Shibuya-ku 150-0002

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Two Rooms

Tokyo, Japan

When the weather is warm, which it often is in Tokyo, all you want is a great view and a terrace, and the rather slick Two Rooms Bar and Grill offers both.

Address

5F AO Building, 3-11-7 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku

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Gen Yamamoto

Tokyo, Japan

Mixologist Gen Yamamoto is to cocktails what Heston Blumenthal is to food. A cosy eight-seater sushi counter lookalike, this bar takes drinks very seriously. Not cheap, but this is an award-winning, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Address

Anniversary Building 1F 1-6-4 Azabu-Juban Minato-ku 106-0045

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Kinfolk

Tokyo, Japan

Hipster bicycle-makers from Brooklyn run this dimly lit wooden watering hole. Sip mojitos and rub shoulders with bearded cycle enthusiasts, travellers and locals.

Address

1-11-1 Kamimeguro Meguro 153-0051

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Zoetrope

Tokyo, Japan

Zoetrope is known among connoisseurs for its vast collection of whiskies. But the drinks menu is not the only reason to visit; subtitled films play on a projector here as an award-winning soundtrack reverberates around the bar. Dark and fitting only about 30 people, Zoetrope has a list of whiskies unrivalled anywhere else in the city and meeting the incredibly knowledgable barman/owner is the cherry on top.

Address

7-10-14 Nishi-Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku 160-0023

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Berry

Tokyo, Japan

Housed in a former jeans factory in between the old offices of VICE, a photo studio and a marketing agency, Berry is a clandestine bar where anything goes. Play beer pong with the hottest new start-up employees or simply revel in the randomness of it all.

Address

3F Fujiya Building 1-3-9 Kamimeguro Meguro-ku 160-0023

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8Bit Café

Tokyo, Japan

Almost impossible to find – it’s on the fifth floor of what appears to be an apartment block – this bar is about the size of a living room with eclectic furniture to match. The staff speak very little English and their menus are in Japanese, so ask (or sign) them to give you what they think you would like. All the drinks are based on different retro video-game characters and the bar has a variety of vintage games and figurines. The clientele tend to be both very eccentric and very friendly. It’s probably one of the best novelty bars to visit in Tokyo − if you can find it.

Address

Q Building 5F 3-8-9 Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku 160-0022

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Golden Gai

Tokyo, Japan

Golden Gai is a tiny fragment of old Tokyo that has miraculously survived the years, although it is somewhat dwarfed by the surrounding high-rise buildings. It consists of six tiny alleyways lined by almost 200 tiny bars. Some are so small that only five or six people can fit in at any one time and most have a seating charge due to their diminutive size.

Address

1-1-6 Kabukicho Shinjuku-ku 160-0021

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Albatross

Tokyo, Japan

Albatross is a tiny three-storey bar that seats around 30 people. You want to be sitting at the bar, where there are giant chandeliers and jewellery-wearing animal heads on the walls. Your favourite R&B hits will be played throughout the night and the drinks are fantastic, if a little overpriced.

Address

1-2-11 Nishi-Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku 160-0023

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Nana Bar

Tokyo, Japan

Set up by a Japanese woman called Nana who was a flamenco singer, the bar has since been passed down to friends, who are very loyal to her and the way in which she ran the business. The staff are extremely friendly and keen to tell you the story behind the graffitied walls and painted ceiling. If you hang around long enough the barman may offer you a taste of his traditional Japanese cucumber (grown on a plot nearby) with his secret dressing as a bar snack.

Address

1-1-8 Kabukichō Shinjuku-ku 160-0021

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Oath

Tokyo, Japan

This is the most influential club on the techno scene in Tokyo. There’s is no entrance fee and all drinks cost about £3. When you’ve had enough of Oath, venture deeper into the building to fellow techno club, Tunnel, in the basement.

Address

Aoyama Building 1F 4-5-9 Shibuya Shibuya-ku 150-0043

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Vanity

Tokyo, Japan

Models and bottles, Vanity is Tokyo’s answer to Boom Boom Room in New York. Situated on the 14th floor with a phenomenal 360-degree view of the city, it is a great spot for Tokyo first-timers. DJs spin cheesy crowd-pleasers like Rihanna and Avicii for the boys and girls dressed to the nines. There are also private karaoke rooms for when you get tired of dancing.

Address

ROI Building 13F 5-5-1 Roppongi Minato-ku 106-0032

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Air

Tokyo, Japan

A famous old-school techno club (as seen in Lost in Translation) that has become part of Tokyo’s fabric. Large but not impersonal, come here to listen to some of the best DJs in town. When you get hungry pop upstairs to the decent café for a bite to eat.

Address

Hikawa Building, B1F-B2F, 2-11 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku

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Sound Museum Vision

Tokyo, Japan

A well-respected establishment that has one of the best sound systems in the world, Sound Museum Vision is an enormous club sitting in the heart of Shibuya. It is separated into rooms which have different moods and considers itself a meeting point for motion graphics and music.

Address

Shintaiso Building B1F 2-10-7 Dogenzaka Shibuya-ku 150-0043

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Trump Room - CLOSED

Tokyo, Japan

Head around the back of the block and you will find a diverse mix of Japanese and foreigners from the fashion, film and art worlds overflowing from the club.

Address

301 1-12-14 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku

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Fuglen

Tokyo, Japan

This Scandi café is a dark, wooden refuge serving coffee in the daytime and alcoholic treats by night. Surrounded by vintage Norwegian furniture, or sitting outside on benches watching the world go by just minutes from Yoyogi Park, customers at Fuglen come for the nostalgic atmosphere of 1950s Norway and stay for the perfectly roasted brews, supplied by Fuglen’s own small roastery.

Address

1-16-11 Tomigaya Shibuya-ku 151-0063

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Hitachino Brewing Lab

Tokyo, Japan

The Kiuchi Brewery in Ibaraki creates some of Japan’s most well-loved craft beers. At its flagship brewery bar near Akihabara station, beer fans can study the art of brewing in hands-on classes, while 10 taps serve all the Hitachino Nest favourites; from the espresso stout through to its white and ginger ales and lager.

Address

1-25-4 Kanda-Sudacho Chiyoda-ku 101-0041

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Tokyo Saryo

Tokyo, Japan

Billed as “the world’s first drip-tea shop”, this unassuming café in Sanenjaya lets customers sit at its counter bar and watch as staff prepare hand-dripped tea in beautiful apparatus. The café claims to showcase the difference between bottled teas – commonly consumed in Japan and purchased from convenience stores and vending machines – and the carefully prepared drip teas. For 1300 yen (about £9) you can try both and pick your team.

Address

1-34-15 Kamiuma Setagaya 154-0011

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Dagashi Bar

Tokyo, Japan

Dagashi refers to low-priced street snacks and sweets that have largely disappeared Tokyo and provide something of a nostalgic treat for those in their 20s and 30s. A new wave of dagashi bars have sprung up in Tokyo, with Showa-era style exteriors, all-you-can-eat sweets (for a fixed price or after purchasing a drink), alcohol, memorabilia and occasionally retro games. The main chain, Dagashi Bar, currently has four premises in Ebisu, Ningyocho, Ikebukuro and Shibuya.

Address

1-13-7 Ebisunishi Shibuya-ku 150-0021

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Peak Bar

Tokyo, Japan

Luxuriating with a cocktail and an eye-popping night view is an absolute must before leaving the capital – if for no other reason than to appreciate its magnitude and feel a sense of awe at the vast, twinkling city so far below. The Peak Bar on 41st floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, offers a setting softly lit by Japanese lanterns and enshrouded by a bamboo grove. Even better is the 4,000 yen “happy hour” deal between 5pm and 9pm, when cocktails, wine and canapés just keep on coming.

Address

41st Floor Park Hyatt 3-7-1-2 Nishishinjuku 163-1055

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Mt. Takao Beer Mount

Tokyo, Japan

Exclusively open from 15th June – 15th October each year, Beer Mount is the highest beer garden in Tokyo, situated on the slopes of Mount Takao at an elevation of 500m. After hiking this rare green space in the city, the beer garden offers hikers two hours of all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink deliciousness for around £24 per person, with DIY highball stations, cocktails, wine and beer. Outdoor seating provides flawless views over the city, including the garish but alluring Tokyo SkyTree tower and the bay of Yokohama.

Address

2205 Takaomachi Hachioji 193-0844

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Tokyo Whisky Library

Tokyo, Japan

Walls lined with over 1,200 different bottles of whisky from across the globe make up this atmospheric hideout in Aoyama. For first time whisky drinkers there’s a clear standard menu to get started with, while connoisseurs can delight in finding all of their favourites in one spot.

Address

Minamiaoyama Santakiarakyoukai 2F 5-5-24, Minamiaoyama Minato-ku 107-0062

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Kurand Sake Market

Tokyo, Japan

At this serve-yourself sake bar a 3,000 yen (£20) entry fee allows free exploring, pouring and drinking of hundreds of types of sake. Customers are welcome to bring their own food and nibbles, and every hour staff and customers take part in a “kanpai” (cheers) with water, to avoid any brutal hangovers the next day. The brand has outposts all across the city, including Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ueno and Ikebukuro.

Address

S&K Building 4F 3-27-3 Nishi-Ikebukuro Toshima-ku 171-0021

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Bar Codename Mixology Akasaka

Shuzo Nagumo is a known alchemist in Tokyo circles. This bar, his second outpost, doesn’t disappoint. In true speakeasy style, the entrance is discreet – a simple sign above a brown slab of a door that reads “mixology salon”. That’s salon in the French use of the word, which is to say grand, old drawing room replete with oil paintings and draped in damasks. Behind the bar it’s a different story. Vacuum machines, smoke guns and centrifuges are just part of the arsenal of scientific gadgets at the bartenders’ disposal.

Address

3 Chome-14-3 Akasaka Minato City Tokyo 107-0052

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Bar Zoetrope

You might be tempted to turn back and find another of the speakeasies on this list once you arrive at Zoetrope’s entrance. A clunky lift bleached in UV light is your portal to this moody local institution: disembark three floors up and step into a whisky-lover’s paradise. The owner speaks perfect English and will be able to prescribe the appropriate tipple. Leave with your head-spinning. It’s all in the name, or perhaps it’s that horridly clinical lift…

Address

7 Chome-10-14 Nishishinjuku Shinjuku City 160-0023

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Star Bar

Can a bar beset with international fame and notoriety pass as a speakeasy? The jury’s out. Either way, this old-school, wood-panelled bar finished with art-deco flourishes and a coffered ceiling, is one of our favourites in Tokyo. Yes, the actual liquors and syrups used here are exquisite (fresh yuzu, plum and pomegranate are all on the menu), but the ice cubes are mini masterpieces in themselves, each hand-hewed into glossy orbs or spliced and chopped into glistening shards – or “brilliant ice” as the bartenders call them.

Address

1-5-13 Ginza Chuo-ku Tokyo 104-0061

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Wodka Tonic

As the name suggests, this bar takes inspiration from the far east – of Europe, that is. Hidden in an underground lair within the Nishi-Azabu business district, this serious-looking bar is like the sort of stony cave you might find in the Caucasus Mountains – albeit one that serves a delightfully extensive range of whiskies and, of course, martini-style cocktails.

Address

2 Chome-25-11 Nishiazabu Minato City Tokyo 106-0031

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Ant ’n Bee

Pull up a stool at Ant ’n Bee for a comprehensive introduction to Japan’s burgeoning craft ale scene. In a basement spot beneath the overwhelming morass of eye-catching storefronts in Roppongi you’ll find this place – the only bar in Tokyo with 20 Japanese craft brews on tap. It’s plastered with stickers and panelled in dark wood like a British pub. Shutters don’t close until 6am: that’s a pint every half hour if you grab an 8pm table. Beer lovers, take note.

Address

5 Chome-1-5 Roppongi Minato City Tokyo 106-0032

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Bar Martha

Zip it. Bar Martha’s all about listening to great vinyl not making conversation, and the whip-cracking bartenders will be sure to pull you up on it if you forget. To describe the entrance as understated is an understatement in itself. There are no windows, simply a concrete step and a small, perfunctory plaque engraved with the bar’s name. It sits in a breeze-block shell of a building in Ebisu, one of Tokyo’s more fashion-forward enclaves, and the punters at Bar Martha are accordingly well-dressed.

Address

1 Chome-22-23 Ebisu Shibuya City Tokyo 150-0013

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Bar Gen Yamamoto

If you’re looking to be transported to the dancehalls of prohibition-era New York, don’t come here. This concept bar is an exercise in minimalism. Each guest sips a cocktail tasting menu made from locally sourced fruit, herb and liquor, curated by resident mixologist, Gen Yamamoto – a man always dressed in a signature white dinner jacket. The bar sits on the ground floor of an ever-shifting meshwork of scaffolded residential buildings in Minato City. There are only eight seats so best to visit in a small group.

Address

1 Chome-6-4 Azabujuban Minato City Tokyo 106-0045

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Le Baron

An outpost of the Parisian hotspot, Le Baron is the latest addition to the list of hidden clubs. Located behind an unmarked door in an alleyway off Omotesando, the tiny club is every bit as glamorous as its Paris flagship.

Address

Aoyama Center Building B1F 3-8-40, Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku Tokyo 107-0062