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Tokyo’s most upmarket neighbourhood, Ginza, boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Its streets are home to numerous luxury brand shops and high-class restaurants, as well as a plethora of exclusive bars frequented by the rich and famous. But you don’t always need connections and wads of cash for a taste of the fine life that Ginza is renowned for. Here are some of the area’s best bars.
While not as lavishly stylish as some of Ginza’s other cocktail bars, it is the drinks themselves that do the talking at Bar Mimi. Owner Fumiyasu Mimitsuka is a knowledgeable and award-winning bartender, who will happily recommend a cocktail to suit your tastes: from the fruity orange gin-based Red Carpet to the Starry Tail – a unique passion fruit and citrus drink with a hint of chestnut.
Located just a few minutes from Ginza Station, this bar consistently gets rave reviews. Run by a friendly and knowledgeable married couple, customers are encouraged to pick their favourite seasonal fruits to form the base of a cocktail created just for them. Don’t be surprised to see the staff combining modern ideas (such as using foam and liquid nitrogen) with classic techniques to create truly memorable and above all, delicious drinks.
Under the watchful eye of Hisashi Kishida, Star Bar Ginza has a reputation for honing some of Tokyo’s finest barmen over the years. This small, intimate establishment has a classic and traditional vibe, with brown leather couches and British-style counter area, while the clientèle tend to be mature, smart and quietly sophisticated. As for drinks, expect only the classics here, served with a choice of perfectly hand-carved ice. Arrive before 9pm as the place usually fills up.
A favourite haunt of writers, artists, poets and others involved in Tokyo’s literary scene since it opened in the late 1920s, Bar Lupin is steeped in history and has a timeless atmosphere. Enjoy classic cocktails (the signature Moscow Mule is served in traditional copper mugs) and soak up the history of the place. Relatively affordable prices, too.
Ginza may be best known for its chic cocktail bars, but beer lovers will also find plenty to whet their palates. Pilsen Alley is a small and intimate establishment, with room for around 12 at the bar and a focus on Japanese lager, namely Asahi Super Dry. Reflecting the bar’s narrow interior, the beer is served in long, slender glasses. The varied menu of nibbles and beer snacks are the perfect compliments to the uncomplicated and understated drinks and surroundings.
A popular haunt for locals serving some of Ginza’s best French cuisine at lunch and dinner, after 10pm Aux Amis des Vins transforms into one of the neighbourhood’s best wine bars. There is an extensive wine list to choose from and despite the plush surroundings, glasses and bottles start from the affordable end of the scale. The perfect place to unwind after a long day of window shopping.