• Feature

Bars in Tokyo

  • delicious Japan
  • May 2023
  • Vol. 16
Bar Avanti
A healing space where working women can drop in with peace of mind, even alone

Bar Avanti is located in Ginza 8-chome. It opened in 2010 and continues to operate with only female bartenders. Its white base coloring and atmosphere that is not overly serious are well-liked and approachable for working women and women who enjoy drinking. Bartender Arai says, "We want our customers to go home with smiles on their faces, from delicious cocktails and great food." Arai worked as a cook at an Italian restaurant, then gained experience at a shot bar and an authentic bar before joining Bar Avanti in 2012.

Kana Arai
Bartender, Bar Avanti
What is your role at Bar Avanti?

As a bartender, I make all the food AVANTI serves, as well as cocktails. In addition to pasta and sausages, homemade raisin butter and nama chocolate have been popular items on the menu since we opened. The monthly curry, served only for one week at the end of each month, is also very popular.

What kind of bar time do you want your customers to spend at Bar Avanti?

The name "AVANTI" means "to move forward" or "please feel free to come in", so we try to give people come to Avanti a fun time with good drinks, make them feel like they are going to do their best tomorrow.

So what's your top selling point for Bar Avanti?

Both of the staff members who work there have won first place in Japan in cocktail competitions, and have competed in world competitions. Owner Okazaki has won numerous domestic competitions, as well as an international competition in Taiwan in 2017, while staff member Arai was the overall winner at the World Class 2018 Japan Finals. That's why Avanti is very popular for its delicious cocktails and strong food lineup.

What are your future aspirations?

I speak only a few words of English and would like to learn more about the language. I'd like to invite international customers to feel free to stop by Bar Avanti. When you visit, please ask "Is Kana here?" That's my first name. I'd like to extend a hearty welcome to you. Also, I've been making original cocktails for some time now and would like to make one every month. I would like to make cocktails for those who can't drink alcohol.

What does "true hospitality" mean to you, Kana-san?

We will devote ourselves to making our bar "a place where you want to stop by today" and "a place where you can truly enjoy yourself," so that our customers can recharge their energy and face tomorrow with a positive attitude.

Mixology Heritage
The Ultimate "Evangelist" for Classic Cocktails

Born in 1969, Mr. Ito entered the bar world at the age of 18. Hibiya Okuroji is a new commercial facility completed in September 2020 under the elevated bridge between Yurakucho Station and Shinbashi Station. Mixology Heritage opened in one spot there, with master classic bartender Manabu Ito at the counter. As the Heritage in the name implies, they use their extensive knowledge and blending skills to bring back to life the flavors of vintage bottles and serve them as classic cocktails.

Manabu Ito
Master Bartender
Mixology Heritage
What is the concept behind Mixology Heritage?

The bar's concept is "classic & vintage". Its missions are to pursue the ultimate classic cocktails, to pass on skills and knowledge to future generations, and to create a new era of classic cocktails. Many classic cocktails were created around the 1920s. There are American, European, and Japanese classic techniques, and I want young Japanese bartenders to learn how to fuse Japanese classics with international techniques. What's more, cocktails made with Japanese hard-to-melt ice have spawned a cocktail culture unique to Japan. Japanese ice is hard to melt, clean, shiny, hard, and pure, with a refreshing taste even when melted. Clear ice that does not melt easily is not found overseas, and the beauty of this ice is one of Japan's strengths.

How did you get into bartending?

One time, a senior colleague took me to a bar for a drink, we did a taste comparison there. The bartender was explaining things to me, and as we were talking, he said, "You have a good nose and tongue. Why not become a bartender". It was a very simple trigger.

What kind of bar time do you want your customers to have at Mixology Heritage?

The bar's concept is classic and vintage, and most of our customers from overseas like Negronis and Old Fashioneds, so I think it gives our overseas customers a "sense of security" in terms of taste. While they are in Japan, I hope they will enjoy the soft and smooth tastes of cocktails that take them back in time, so to speak.

What are your future aspirations, Mr. Ito?

First of all, I would like to pass on the art of classic cocktails to young Japanese bartenders. I want to promote the teaching and education of younger generations. It's fair to say that this bar is a fusion of the unique Japanese techniques of classic cocktails with foreign techniques, ideas, and tastes, all of which are found here. In the future, we would like to use this place as a starting point for spreading more information. A cover charge of 800 yen per person will be charged for each person who comes after 6p.m. However, from 3 to 6pm is happy hour, so there is no cover charge.

Bar & Café Camellia
A place where you can forget about time and enjoy conversation

An authentic bar located on the 2nd floor of The Tokyo Station Hotel in Tokyo Station. In a space that mixes the atmosphere of a bar with the casualness of a café, you can enjoy authentic cuisine and a rich lineup of wines and liquors. After the war, it opened in 1951 as Bar Camellia. In 2012, it reopened again with a new interior and location, as a bar and café that can be used from lunchtime onwards.

Aikawa Kazuhide
Bar & Café Camellia, Bar Oak
The Tokyo Station Hotel
What makes Camellia unique?

In the beginning, it was known as a "hideout for adults". The train platform used to be visible from inside the bar. There has always been a clock in the bar that was set 5 minutes ahead of the real time. We started doing that because we were concerned about people who drink until the last minute and miss the last train, despite being located inside Tokyo Station. The "STATION HOTEL" logo of cutout letters, which has been in place since 1951, has been re-installed in the bar to remind visitors of its history. Whether you've known Camelia for a long time or are visiting for the first time, you will enjoy an interlude of conversation.

How did you get into bartending?

I received two weeks of training at a hotel as part of an internship program as a college student. I was assigned to the bar. I was amazed at the variety of hotel work and learned about different types of cocktails, which sparked my interest in making alcoholic drinks.

What do you keep in mind as a bartender on a daily basis?

The world of bartending is a field where even younger staff can interact with a variety of customers on an equal footing, across the counter. As a bartender, I have always tried not to interrupt guests, not to say anything unnecessary, and basically to listen and return what is asked of me. I have been working in this world for over 20 years.

What is Bar Camellia's best selling point?

The bartender's original cocktails. These cocktails are changed on a monthly basis. This month's spirit is Hendrick's Gin, a single spirit used to create cocktails with a variety of flavors. Made from extracts of cucumber and rose petals, it has a pleasant, clean taste with a gorgeous, floral, citrusy aroma. You can fully experience the "Cocktail Journey," where you can enjoy comparing drinks.

What is “true omotenashi”?

It is to empathize with the guest. How do you feel about your guests as you interact with them? To what extent can you share happiness or sadness together, and feel the same feelings, so that when they leave, they go home with a smile. That, to me, is true hospitality.