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Drinking at Restaurants/Bars in Japan


robyn
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I like a few drinks before dinner. Sometimes a drink with dinner. Usually gin - on the rocks - or with something. My husband likes his drink before dinner (usually a martini) - and wine with dinner. I don't drink a lot of wine - but I do like champagne.

We'd like to maintain our drinking habits while in Japan :smile: - but we don't want to go broke doing so :sad: . At higher end bars/restaurants - what can we expect in terms of liquor options? Will English gin or imported wines cost a small fortune? What are the domestic drinks? Should we learn about sake? Like I said - all advice/recommendations would be appreciated. Robyn

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I don't drink, so I am sure some others have more to offer here but in general the Japanese love to drink and in most places a drink before you even order is almost expected. Most common drinks here are beer, sake, shochu and wine.

Cocktails have popping up in a lot of places that cater to women, but as for hard liquor I don't know too many Japanese who drink anything besides an occasional whiskey and often very watered down rather than on the rocks).

In most Japanese style restaurants there maybe no choice outside of beer, sake and shochu, though some are offering wine and cocktails recently. In western restaurants you might have a bigger selection.

Here is a menu from a Japanese style restaurant in Roppongi which shows fairly typical drink prices.

scroll down just past the food.

This site also offers menus for various restaurants in the Tokyo- Yokohama area, all in English, so you might want to browse it a bit to get a feel for how much they will set you back.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Here is a nice article that gives some information about liquors in Japan.

Also just some side notes if you happen to be drinking with others, in Japan you shouldn't pour your own drinks, doesn't matter if you are pouring from a can, a bottle or a little container of sake. You should let your drinking partners do the pouring and you do the pouring for them.

If you want to say 'cheers' in Japanese, you say 'kampai', but I am sure your husband has learned that word! :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Robyn:

As a general rule, most restaurants don't typically have a full bar and many don't have a bar area (space being at the premium that it is). I can think of a few places that could accommodate a request for a pre-dinner martini, but outside of hotel restaurants, they'd be the exception and not the rule. Almost every high end Western restaurant will have a wine list; don't expect any bargains though.

On the plus side, the gin selection at the bars in Tokyo has improved over the past few years. Tanqueray (regular), Beefeater and Sapphire are pretty common, but the bar I frequent has both Tanqueray 10 and Hendricks.

Have fun and let us know if you want any recommendations.

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Robyn:

As a general rule, most restaurants don't typically have a full bar and many don't have a bar area (space being at the premium that it is).  I can think of a few places that could accommodate a request for a pre-dinner martini, but outside of hotel restaurants, they'd be the exception and not the rule.  Almost every high end Western restaurant will have a wine list; don't expect any bargains though. 

On the plus side, the gin selection at the bars in Tokyo has improved over the past  few years.  Tanqueray (regular), Beefeater and Sapphire are pretty common, but the bar I frequent has both Tanqueray 10 and Hendricks. 

Have fun and let us know if you want any recommendations.

Thanks for all the information (from everyone). I'm just following a lot of threads here in the Japan section for ideas. When it gets closer to the time for our trip - I might have some questions about the places that have been mentioned.

What is shochu? Robyn

Edited by robyn (log)
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What is shochu?  Robyn

Unlike many other beverages, shochu is made from one of several raw materials. These include sweet potato, and shochu made from these is called "imo-jochu." Other materials commonly used include from rice, soba (buckwheat), and barley. There is even one island where there a few places that make shochu from brown sugar. It can also be made from more obscure things like chestnuts and other grains.

And, each of these raw materials gives a very, very distinct flavor and aroma profile to the final sake. These profiles run the gamut from smooth and light (rice) to peaty, earthy and strong (potato). Indeed, each of these raw materials lends a unique flavor in much the same way that the peat and barley of each region in Scotland determine the character of the final scotch whiskey.

from the shochu thread

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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