Cocktails: Kyoto

Tech has a drinking problem. I won’t go into it now, but I am generally very hesitant to talk about alcohol on the internet because I don’t want to be part of a culture that -encourages- drinking (even though I have been in the past). Since this blog is mainly tech focused (with some baking interludes), I’ve gone out of my way to not write about drinking. The thing is, I really enjoy cocktails. It’s a casual hobby of mine.

When I plan for a trip, I research cocktail bars in the area(s) where I will be traveling. I make lists and put them on a map. I have priorities and notes. I get a lot out of blogs and articles on these things, so I decided I probably ought to “give back” to that experience.

So, here are my thoughts on the cocktail bars I visited in Tokyo.

Bar Rocking Chair

Web site

This was my favorite in Kyoto. The staff were very friendly and very nice. They were patient with my Japanese, even though they spoke excellent English. When we arrived they were a bit busy, but managed to just barely find a place for us to sit. Deeply appreciated.

I had a The Best Scene and a Jyu-raku, and very much enjoyed them both. I chose these because The Best Scene is their award winning cocktail, and the jyu-raku comes with port. They have an impressive port collection, and it seemed like it was a good place to try out a port cocktail.

I also really just liked the atmosphere here. Typically I strongly prefer to sit at the bar, but had a really lovely time sitting in a rocking chair by a candle-filled fireplace, admiring the port collection, watching the flames dance, and sipping on a great drink.

If I lived in Kyoto, I could see Rocking Chair becoming my cocktail home base.

L’Escamoteur

Web site?

L’Escamoteur is great, but let’s be clear, it’s a kitschy bar with a bit of a Steampunk flair, from the bartenders’ hats to the bathroom through a hidden bookcase door. I don’t think the kitsch is a detractor, but I was a little surprised after hearing how great the drinks are, as I’m not used to seeing such a marriage between over the top visual novelty and drinks that are actually worth the wait.

They specialize in showy drinks, including those that use smoke and fire. While I was not into the intense eye contact the bartender I didn’t chat with made while playing with chartreuse, aflame in that particular shade of blue alcohol burns, I was into how chatty everyone else was. We talked about drinks and Kyoto, how they ended up at a bar in Kyoto, and our shared experience of living abroad.

I forget what I had, other than something with chartreuse in it — something I normally stay away from — because I FORGOT MY COCKTAIL NOTEBOOK. For shame! I did enjoy what I had. We did have a drink made with smoked whiskey that tasted like biting into a delicious, sweet, burning piece of wood. I recommend that. I think there was a negroni, and something kind of sweet and spicy.

This place was a lot of fun, and I do recommend it highly.

nokishita711

Web site

I loved this place so much. A lot of that was the novelty of it. Nokishita711 is unrepentantly nothing but itself and what it wants to be. This bar probably comfortable fits eight, but Tomoiki (the drink director) will keep cramming people in, to share with them his unbridled love of gin and marrying its myriad tastes with those of Japanese traditional flavors.

He painstakingly makes one drink at a time, serves it to you, and then makes the next. He’s in no rush, and reminds you that you shouldn’t be either. Gin, and cocktails, are meant to be taken as a moment unto themselves, and savored for as long as it will last.

When we were there, he played low key hip hop, dancing along while mixing drinks.

Okay, maybe I was just charmed by Tomoiki. I really did enjoy the drinks though. They were creative, they were weird, they provided new experiences about what a cocktail is and can be.

Did not get to, but still want to check out: