(excuse the orangey lighting, didn’t want to turn on the camera flash and interrupt the low-lit, discreet ambience…)
After years of being deluged with sloppy, sugary, sham cocktails everywhere, I’ve finally been shaken and stirred from my faux cocktail stupor. AMEN! NOW LETS GET A DRINK LADIES AND GENTLEMENNNN! Tokyo–classy lady that she will always be – has shown me what a REAL cocktail is in the last 2 years here. Low-lit smokey jazz-filled cocktail bars, understatedly spirited away in quiet alleys or top floors of inconspicuous buildings, is where I learnt just how cocktail-making has been elevated to a fine art by bartenders who’ve spent years perfecting their craft. Years spent learning to craft THE perfect ice ball to mastering THE perfect chilled serving temperature. Oh yeahhhhh
One night after dinner at the amazing Oreno Kappo (am officially obsessed with the Oreno-chains in Tokyo and will post review soon!), Jen Sonia and I hopped over to Bar High Five just around the corner for yummy drinks.
As one of the reigning grand dames of the must-go-cocktail-places in Tokyo, Bar High Five is tiny (seats less than 15), with a low-lit discreet ambience. Helmed and owned by head bartender Hidetsugu Ueno (who used to head another legendary Ginza cocktail mecca Star Bar), there is no menu here… YOU tell Ueno-san what your drink preference is, and the maestro will work his mixology magic on your drinks. Our drinks – a Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned, Pina Colada – were exquisitely mixed and served, and tasted like icy liquid gold which retained their chilled perfection even after many sips… My Old Fashioned was oh so silky smooth – infused with smokey Japanese bourbon whiskey and hints of zest from the perfectly skinned orange rind. Sonia’s pina colada was just as the maestro described: “Milkshake for adults”. Said to be David Chang’s (who owns the Momofuku joints) go-to-drink when he drops by, I can totally see why!
Snacks are placed before you while you imbibe your drinks. They serve a pretty interesting cracker with crumbly cheese topping, which tasted like a sweet cream cheese pate… it’s a little heavy and rich, but if you like your desserts you’ll like this :)
It was a great chilled out place to end the night with very delicious cocktails, which come at a pretty steep 3,000+ JPY each. But it’s more than just exquisite cocktails you are paying for, as you get to watch Ueno-san mix, shake, stir and bring amazing cocktails to your table. If the place doesn’t get too crowded, you can always chat with him and discover Tokyo’s hidden gems, like how we found out about his fav Tonkotsu ramen joint (Azabu Ramen) at San-no-hashi near where I used to stay! His last visit was 15 years ago..so hopefully it’s still standing and we can pay it a visit post cocktails to round up the night par-fact-lyyy.
Wherefore art thou?
Bar High Five (map here, ~7-10mins walk from Ginza station)
4th Floor, No. 26 Polestar Building
7-2-14 Ginza Tokyo