Bars in Japan: Cocktail Bars
Bars in Japan: Miscellany

Bars in Japan: Standing and Highball Bars

On my five-day visit to Japan with Suntory whiskies I hit 21 bars by my count. I am talking about them in groups. Next up: Standing and Highball Bars.

The difference between the various styles of bars is subtle and I'm defining them as I see them. I'll be describing whisky bars, cocktail bars, highball and standing bars, and pubs/clubs/dives. As far as I can tell, highball bars are all standing bars but I'd imagine there are standing bars that don't specialize in highballs. 

As you can guess, standing/highball bars are bars in which everyone is standing up drinking at tall tables rather than seated. They are popular after-work bars. Perhaps they're Japanese happy hour bars. 

Anyway, in Kyoto we went to a bar called Getto, which is a pretty great name. The bar is as big as a hallway, with lots of traditional Japanese beverages. You stand up the whole time but are essentially leaning against the wall behind you. 

Getto bar Kyoto Japan_tn

There I tried aged awarami, a beverage from Okinawa that is aged in ceramic containers. It tastes like shochu for the most part. A little gamey but nothing special. 

Getto bar Kyoto Japan2_tn

I also tried kokutojochu, which is sugar cane schochu fermented with rice mold. Basically, it's Batavia arrack and I wanted to see if it tasted the same. More or less! It was, as expected, completely disgusting, like fermented sweatsocks

However, the cucumber was awesome.

Getto bar Kyoto Japan cucumber_tn

Gindaka is a highball bar in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. It's  basically a take-out restaurant with one window facing the street and another into a tiny room for standing customers. They have a tap that serves highballs of Yamazaki 10 and Suntory Whisky (a blended whisky sometimes called "koku" which means "box" as the bottle is short and squareish.)

Shinjuko tokyo2_tn
(This is the neighborhood where Gindaka is located. Busy, to say the least.)

Gindaka highball bar shinjuko tokyo on tap_tn
(Highballs on tap, with Suntory Premium Malts beer also on tap in the middle.)

Sign at gindaka highball bar shinjuko tokyo_tn
(Koku bottle in ad.)

 When they served us the Koku, it came with a lemon slice, served in a plastic mug. For the Yamazaki 10, they put it in a highball glass. And when we ordered a highball with Hakushu 10 they put it in the same glass with a tiny piece of mint on top. A nice little indicator that you've moved up in your drinking choice.

Highball of suntory at gindaka highball bar shinjuko tokyo_tn
(First drink with Suntory Whisky.)

Highball of yamazaki 10 gindaka highball bar shinjuko tokyo_tn
(Second highball, Yamazaki 10 in highball glass.)

Hakushu 10 mint garnish gindaka highball bar shinjuko tokyo_tn
(Hakushu 10 highball, with tiny mint garnish.)

Marugine, my hosts tell me, is the most famous highball bar in Japan. It's what I would call 'regular bar' sized, but with all tall communal tables for standing and eating or drinking. 

Marugine highball bar tokyo_tn

 As this was my sixth bar of the evening, I am a little hazy about any other details. 

Marugine highball bar tokyo2_tn

Get Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF.