Xia Fei Chiew

Shibuya’s Bar Ishinohana

Gourmet Tipples that are value for money

Xia Fei Chiew
Xia Fei Chiew   - 3 min read

You have not had cocktails until you have had them in Japan, more specifically, Tokyo.

If you are a casual drinker, cocktails probably do not mean much to you besides a few liquors mixed into a palatable girls’ drink. But bartending is an art-form in which cocktails are the masterpieces. And here in Tokyo, the artistry of bartending, or as it is now recently called, mixology, has been elevated to the next level.

Bar Ishinohana is manned by Shinobu Ishigaki, a creative and talented bartender who has been racking up international cocktail prizes left and right in recent years. If someone can change your perception on how flavorful a single glass of cocktail can be, it is definitely this man.

Even for seasoned cocktail lovers, Bar Ishinohana will probably radically shake your world with their innovative drinks that utilizes fresh seasonal fruits and herbs. You probably did not think it was possible to invent so many different types of cocktails, but when they say that the sky is the limit, here it really is. Constantly churning out something new and refreshing, Bar Ishinohana boasts a prolific menu that spans three books. Yes, three books. Aside from the classic cocktails, seasonal creations, spirits, liqueurs, liquors and house-recommendation, Bar Ishinohana has two menus dedicated for just Mojitos and Martinis. In each of these menus are 50 variations of Mojitos and Martinis, each of them delicious and awe-inspiring.

The drinks are genuinely delicious, the watermelon martini made using fresh watermelons is slightly sweet, only a wee bit tart and very refreshing. So much so that you will almost forget that there is alcohol in the drink. Those looking for the dry kick of liquor can of course, order the classic Old Fashioned or Godfather, both made with bespoke whiskey carefully chosen by the bartender. In fact many of the classic cocktails here, while staying true to their roots, are made with the highest quality (and sometimes elusive) liquors that even the familiar drinks will surprise you pleasantly.

However what has been winning competitions are definitely the innovative cocktails. Combining traditional Japanese flavors such as Wasabi, Matcha and other local ingredients, bartender Shinobu Ishigaki has managed to create bold cocktails that redefines the limits of what a drink can be. For the brave and adventurous, the Wasabi Alexander is a delectable choice. The more relaxed can go for Oribe, a take on alcoholic Matcha Latte that is equal part tasteful and mellow.

Service here, as with all cocktail bars in Japan are impeccable. With bartenders assigned solely to cleaning the glasses and bottles, the glassware here are so spotless that if not for the refraction of light, you will not even know that the glass was there. In addition, the bartenders are constantly on the look-out for empty glasses, hence you do not even need to wave one order to order your next drink.

What really defines the Japanese bar experience however is the precision of the bartenders when they are mixing the drinks. Precise, sharp, clean and elegant, you will most definitely be mesmerized by the artistry that Bar Ishinohara has to offer.

Xia Fei Chiew

Xia Fei Chiew @xia.fei.chiew