Event Report: Tokyo Cocktail 7 Days

Tonight we’ll do a rapid-fire introduction of a handful of bars in Tokyo that I recently visited as part of Tokyo Cocktail 7 Days, a citywide celebration of the cocktail.

What is Cocktail 7 Days

As we sit down at the bar, it’s best to introduce the event itself. Tokyo Cocktail 7 Days (TC7D) is not some event at a specific time and place. Instead, it’s nearly 100 bars participating in the same promotion at the same time. Despite the name “7 Days,” this year’s TC7D ran from October 26 to November 5, so 11 days.  

For drinkers, participating in TC7D is simple. Just go to the official website, purchase your Cocktail Passport book, and visit as many (or few) bars as you want of the participating bars over the course of the 11 days, Passport in hand. The Cocktail Passport even included a coupon for a free drink. Additional drinks are available for 1200 yen apiece from the special TC7D menu. Depending on the bar’s standard pricing, that’s either an “okay” deal or a significant discount. If you’re familiar with London Cocktail Week, you know the drill.

In total, 87 bars participated this year. Doing some quick math on the back of your coaster reveals you’ll need to hit 7 to 8 bars per day to do them all. Realistic? Probably not, but that’s not to say some don’t try. One of the first people I met took vacation days for the entire duration of TC7D to do them all! 

With bars spread everywhere from Setagaya to Shin-Koiwa, even for someone already somewhat familiar with Tokyo’s bar scene, this presents an excellent opportunity–or excuse–to visit new bars. For bartenders, it’s a good way to get more new people coming through the door. 

This year’s theme was “Cocktail Trip.” Kanpai, and don’t forget your Passport! 

Shibuya: Bar Old Pal

The cigar-friendly Bar Old Pal is just a stone’s throw from everyone’s favorite Shibuya station. Relaxing with a decent selection of whisky as well. The highlight for me was probably the Itsuki Highball, with mizunara-infused Whistlepig, herbal liqueur from Iwate Prefecture, elderflower syrup, soda, and a mint garnish. A chill drink for a chill bar.

Shibuya: Bar Rocaille

Like the above Bar Old Pal, Bar Rocaille is also open from 3PM so you can get your fill of cocktails just after lunch. In fact, I’d suggest getting there early as the bar doesn’t seat many. “1688-20XX” used Whistlepig, X-Rated, kinmokusei syrup, soda, lemon juice, and ginger ale for a tasty take on a whisky ginger.

Daikanyama: Flying Bumblebee

I’ve been meaning to visit Flying Bumblebee since they opened, so TC7D was even more reason. Like much of the Daikanyama area itself, Flying Bumblebee has a more international vibe in both its sophisticated atmosphere and menu focusing on gin, absinthe, and other herbal liqueurs. That should come as no surprise as owner/bartender Ai Igarashi used to be over at Ebisu’s famed Bar Trench. At Flying Bumblebee, the bar counter is open on all sides, so it’s easy to see the master at work.

Meguro: Bar Day Break Tokyo

Just across the street from Meguro station, Day Break Tokyo is pretty big by Tokyo standards. They stock 600 different kinds of liquor, including 200 different kinds of rum at any given time. “Rocky Mountain” used Whistlepig, cheesecake syrup, and fresh creme.

Meguro: La Vie En Rose

Pretty much all of the cocktails on the TC7D menu here were crafted to knock your socks off. I was particularly fond of “Wrong Island Beach,” a twist on a Long Island, with Beefeater, X-Rated, Flor de Cana, Don Julio Blanco, white curacao, lemon juice, and cranberry juice. It’s just outside Meguro station as well.

Nakameguro: &Spirits

Part bar, part cafe, and part liquor store, &Spirits is a great fit for the Nakameguro area with its trendy atmosphere and younger clientele. Here, “Simulated Reality” used X-Rated, bubblegum syrup, gin, lemon juice, and an egg white for your liquid dessert.

Roppongi: The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, The Bar

While I’ve been to the Ritz’s bar before, I couldn’t resist the temptation of drinking here, more… affordably. Perched high above Roppongi on the 45F of the Tokyo Midtown complex, Wada-san came up with the smashing “Himalayas Crossing” with Hendrick’s, Indian spice shrub, cucumber bitters, tonic, and it’s topped off with aromas of rose and sandalwood. Great naming!

Azabu Juban: The Lively Bar Tokyo Azabujuban

Only a stone’s throw away from Roppongi is the new and fairly swank bar at The Lively Tokyo Azabujuban. Some nice terrace seating offers a nice vista of Tokyo Tower. Basic cocktails here start at 1,450 yen. For the TC7D menu, “Don Fruity” combines reposado, rooibos tea, passion fruit, and clarified milk.

Koiwa: Cocktail Bar Raven

Koiwa is essentially your last stop in Tokyo when heading into Chiba Prefecture, but the bar scene here offered some quirky options for the TC7D menu. “Wakaˈmole” sort of bridges the gap between nachos with guacamole and, well, a drink that tastes exactly like what you would expect it to. I also can’t remember the last time I had a drink out of an IV drip. Cannabis is also highly illegal in Japan, but CBD isn’t, so “Trip to Wonderland” offers a healthy serving.

Koiwa: Bar Soutsu

Nearby Raven is Bar Soutsu. Soutsu is fairly famous amongst the Koiwa crowd for their selection of craft gin — over 700 bottles — and the TC7D menu took full advantage. My person favorite was probably “A Dreamlike Way Home,” with X-rated, dry gin, shikuwasa brown sugar syrup, spumante, french herbal liqueur, and Okinawan sea salt. A great send-off to a fantastic TC7D!

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