City Guide to Tokyo

The bartender will guide you through a series of masterfully balanced drinks. They could be ornate, like his trophy-winning creations, or they might be stunningly simple, like his revelatory R&B (just rum and Benedictine).

Fuglen Tokyo, 1-16-11 Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku

When the owners of Oslo’s fashionable bar cafe Fuglen decided to open a second branch, they picked a location 8,400km away in Tokyo. They opened in spring 2012, and stuck closely to the template of their original location – cafe by day, cocktail bar by night, in a room furnished handsomely in mid-20th century Scandinavian design classics, all of which you can buy from them. 

There’s a permanent menu of classic cocktails and a seasonal menu that often showcases Japanese ingredients in ways you would never dream of. 

Oslo-based head bartender Halvor Digernes flies in each season to overhaul the menu. It’s a casual space — you can bring your own food — that attracts the laptop set, local residents and every visiting Scandinavian. If you’re there in the daytime, the coffee, roasted by the Fuglen team just around the corner, is superb. 

Ben Fiddich, 9F, 1-2-3-7 Nashi Shiniuku-ku

If you want to know how unusual a bartender Hiroyasu Kayama is, consider this – he’s got a cage with bottles of Ardbeg 10 Years Old sitting in a pond in Saitama Prefecture to see how it affects the flavour. While we wait a year for the results of that experiment, we can try his absinthe, distilled in the bar from home-grown wormwood, or sample a cypress-infused vodka tonic, or one of his Mojitos that’s so packed with herbs you could sit and smell it all night. He’ll make you a root beer by grinding the botanicals in a mortar, adding it to a plastic bottle of soda, then blasting it with gas. Kayama seems to have a limitless appetite to make simple drinks the hardest, freshest way possible, and it’s part of what makes the year-old Ben Fiddich one of the most exciting bars on the Tokyo drink scene right now.