Okay, so we can admit that there are FOR SURE other hidden gems in Japan that we don’t know about. Duh. But these are our three favorite watering holes from our recent trip to Japan. We want to share this with you, but would advise that you don’t tell anybody else. Part of the amazingness was that we always found a seat. If the secret gets out, good luck. These bars are all small, incredible, and hard to find. So let’s get to it.
Little Smith- Hike two stories underground (below an office building) and you will meet bartenders dressed to the nines in white tuxedoes, ready to concoct homemade libations based on your liking. There is no menu here, so you say “Omakase” (“trust the chef”) and tell them what your spirit of choice is. Since there is probably a cover charge here, you’re going to want to hunker down at the beautiful oval shaped bar and enjoy a couple cocktails at Little Smith. We suggest sharing something off the menu as well, as all of their food is amazing!
Bar Core- Japan is known to have a plethora of small bars. This may be the smallest. Please find it and enjoy a Japanese whisky with five of your friends (it only holds 6). It is a standing-only bar that we stumbled upon after dinner one night, and we will never forget it. Great whisky selection, great pours, and a great vibe. (If you’re not a fan of whiskey, ask for a gin cocktail. We’re not sure what all was in it, but Alli is still dreaming about it!)
Bar Bunkyu- While all three of these spots are a little different (and really hard to compare), Bar Bunkyu was probably our favorite. It is another tiny, 8-person bar with great pours (you order a single and the bartender pours a double – yes please!!) It’s dimly lit, totally hidden, and as Alli liked to say, it’s just “sexy”. We were in Kyoto for 3 nights, and always ended the night here. It is primarily a whisky bar, but the bartender Nao has plenty of delicious cocktails to offer up as well. Please go here. And take us with you.
There’s a reason we titled this blog “You’re welcome”. Go find these spots and you can thank us later.