Here are some observations about bars in Japan from my trip with Suntory whiskies.
- You can smoke in bars in Japan. Bars were all a little bit smoky, but none of them I visited were smoky that your eyes hurt.
- When you enter a cocktail bar and most other types of bars, they give you a hot wet towel to wipe your hands. Even the low-end bars give you a wet-nap version of this. This is lovely and I'd like to see some bars in the US do it.
- For many bars it's seated customers only. You pop your head in and ask if there is room before entering.
- A lot of cocktail menus don't list the drink ingredients, only the name, even for original creations. What good is that?
- When barhopping at home, I can have just one drink at each bar. In Japan I noticed that my hosts always steered me toward a second drink. I think that it's impolite to leave after just one.
- Understanding Japanese gets easier after the third drink. However, it gets really hard again after the tenth.
- Japanese people can drink a lot. I have a healthy layer of fat and yet all of my skinny Japanese hosts kept up or surpassed me nightly.
- Bars have a cover charge.
- Almost every bar offers some food. A snack is often included in the cover charge, but they offer much more. Thus you can go barhopping without eating first -you're going to be eating at every place you go.
Thanks Japan, you are awesome!