The bustling city brimming with vibrant energy and bright skyscrapers has more to offer than just a photogenic landscape. It’s also home to thousands of drinking spots with an array of cocktail, beer and wine options — not to mention a wide variety of Japanese alcohol including sake.
Locals and foreigners alike are spoilt for choice in Tokyo; with so many options, it’s a challenge every night to find a bar — or a few bars, if you’re in a bar-hopping mood — that you know is going to be worth your time.
You’re lucky you came to the right page. We’ve shortlisted the top 7 bars in Tokyo that are definitely go-to’s — everything from refined cocktail bars to the casual chill standing ones. Read on to find out what they are!
1. 8-bit Cafe
This is not your typical bar — 8-bit Cafe is a concept bar where you can play all your favourite retro video games while sipping on your go-to alcoholic drink. Just around the corner from Shinjuku Sanchome Station, this is definitely a must-go for classic gamers!
This bar prides itself on custom-made cocktails named after characters and games that you won’t get anywhere else except here — try the Princess Peach or even the bestselling Dr. Mario which mixes gin, vodka, Dr. Pepper and Coke, and served in a beaker with a side of two sugar pills in a test tube.
A fan of the hardcore whiskey? Zoetrope is your ultimate stop, then! Lying in the heart of Shinjuku, this cosy bar is like finding a diamond in the rough — it has a whiskey selection like no other in all of Japan with over 300 types of domestic whiskey.
The owner, Atsushi Horigami, is truly dedicated to Japanese whiskey and is known as one of the pioneers of local whiskey collectors. You’ll find rare bottles like 18-year-old Kirin Fuji Sanroku single-malt all the way from Fuji Gotemba distillery. If you don’t know your whiskey knowledge, Horigami is more than willing to guide you through the learning journey of it all.
If you’re not all that into whiskey, Zoetrope also has a wonderful collection of Japanese rum, brandy and beer — so there’s always something for everyone at this dimly lit bar.
One of my personal favourite bars in Tokyo is the laid-back yet buzzing bar in Shibuya called Tasuichi. This is one of the most famous bars in all of Tokyo, especially among travelers and expats in Japan. You’ll definitely make friends and memories every time you step foot in here.
While it is a hot spot for foreigners, there are quite a few Japanese folks that come here as well. It’s a standing bar, so that makes it so much easier to mingle around and meet people. One thing’s for sure, though, is that Tasuichi can get loud and rowdy — that doesn’t really matter when the drinks are as cheap as ¥300, does it?
4. Two Dogs Taproom
Love beer and pizza together? Head over to Two Dogs Taproom that’s just a three-minute walk from Roppongi Station. This bar-restaurant has sort of an industrial theme that gives off the nostalgic American feel, making anyone feel at home — dare I say, even the non-Americans!
Choose from the 25 craft beers on tap — not a single one of them will disappoint you. The beer range is a collection of both Japanese beers and international ones. I recommend trying them all if you’re a beer enthusiast.
Of course, pair your pint of craft beer with homemade pizzas — their signature is the Californian-style pizza that’s made from Campo Grande Pomodorini-Perati Hall tomatoes for the sauce and then fired up at the bar restaurant’s very own wood-fired oven.
Happy hour is the time to be at Two Dogs Taproom — weekdays are often full of locals and foreigners hang out over the weekends, so you can take your pick of the kind of vibe you want to be in!
Another one of my go-to bars in Tokyo is, of course, the famous Hub. This is a British-style pub that has more than one location — there are tons of Hubs scattered all around the city! It’s kind of similar to Tasuichi, only there are seats and it doesn’t get as loud or rowdy; there’s a comfortable balance for that. The drinks at Hub are at extremely affordable prices, alongside classic British foods like Fish N’ Chips to eat alongside your pint of beer or glass of cocktail.
You’ll get a good mix of locals and foreigners here, and despite it being a seating bar, don’t be afraid to mingle around — the environment is perfect for that!
Hub also shows sports, especially British football, so if you’re ever in town when the Premier League is on, you know where to go!
Golden Gai is one of the most famous drinking streets in Tokyo — if not already number one. With so many options to choose from, one would question which one’s the best to get a pint to start off the night. Albatross is your bar; it is without a doubt one of the hippest bars in the city doubling as an art gallery as well, established in 1997.
You’ll notice the chandelier as soon as you walk in — that’s their signature look. Drink prices can be anywhere from ¥600 to ¥1,500, but you have a wide selection to choose from that’s considered reasonable for the price.
They also have locations in Koenji and another one in Shinjuku as well, so if the Golden Gai outlet doesn’t suit your fancy, head down to the other two!
7. Ginza 300 Bar
Onto the last on the least, but definitely no less compared to the rest, is Ginza 300 Bar. This is the ultimate super value drinking spot, right in the middle of the city’s expensive neighbourhood — quite ironic, actually. You’ll get a good balance between foreigners and locals at this bar.
This bar has a ticket system where you buy at the entrance and exchange it for your order. As the name of the place suggests, everything on the menu — drinks and foods alike — are only ¥300! No cover charge as well!
It is a standing bar, which can be a plus or minus point depending on how you look at it. If the one you go to gets crowded, just pop by to any of the other two locations just around the corner from the first one!
There are so many drinking bars in Tokyo to choose from — it really is a tough task to shortlist it to only these 7. But with this list, you’ll have a better idea of where to start your night depending on where you go as well as how much you’re willing to spend on a drink. From affordable standing bars like Ginza 300 to the more fancy cocktail bars like Zoetrope, you’ll definitely find one that fits you best!