The shelves of Tokyo Whisky Library have been stacked with over 1,000 bottles of both domestic and imported whiskey since the bar’s opening in October of 2016. Located in Omotesando, the bar seeks to match the sophisticated atmosphere that the neighborhood’s abundance of high-end clothing boutiques evoke. Visitors who would like to browse the stacks at this distinctive library must pass through a vine-covered archway into a church courtyard, then climb a flight of black iron steps before entering through a black doorway framed by shelves of books.
Once inside, patrons will find themselves in a large and decidedly eclectic room. The leather button-tufted sofas and extravagant chandeliers juxtapose the exposed brick walls, mounted deer heads and large communal table, to create an inviting and impressive atmosphere. While the aforementioned decor and design choices add to the pleasant mood that the establishment seeks to distill, it’s the shelves upon shelves of beautifully lit whiskey bottles that ensure the room lives up to its title of a whiskey library.
Early in the afternoon, when the bar opens, the space is brightly lit and happy hour options are available. This bar evolves as the day passes and it’s an experience, catching the end of the happy hour to watch the lights slowly dim and the atmosphere liven up. The well chosen music and cheery customers create an environment in the evening which is less like a library and more like a contemporary cocktail bar.
The service is quick and the staff is comfortable explaining the hefty whiskey menu with patience and detail. With nearly one hundred pages in the whiskey menu alone, even the most knowledgeable whiskey aficionados might want to ask the staff for recommendations. The large black book is divided into sections, with over 50 pages dedicated to seven regions of scotch whisky alone. It also includes a special section dedicated to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, whose whiskey has poetic names such as More Reviving than Smelling Salts or Dirty Margarita on a Yacht. The Tokyo Whisky Library website is also worth perusing, prior to one’s visit, to check out the new arrival list.
If straight whiskey doesn’t suit your palate, or if flipping through chapters on the subject of whiskey is overwhelming, Tokyo Whisky Library offers a single page of signature whiskey cocktails overseen by Michito Kaneko, the world champion for the World Class Club 2015 Bartender Competition. The cocktails on this list are mixed with a variety of unusual ingredients and some borrowed elements from Japanese cuisine, including shiso leaves. The era — new generation cocktail includes Yoichi Single Malt, orange bitters, kumquat, fresh cream, lemon and honey.
Just in time for Tokyo’s cherry blossom season, Tokyo Whisky Library is offering a limited springtime cocktail, springsound. This cocktail is a delicate blend of whiskey from Miyagi Prefecture, Cherry Heering liqueur, okra, kelp tea with plum, egg white, honey, lemon and umami bitters. It is a subtle and sweet blend of Japanese ingredients to create a wholly singular cocktail.
The simple food menu features many small smoked dishes and rich meat flavors to pair well with your whiskey. The menu also has some dishes that feature the use of whiskey as an ingredient, like the pasta with salmon cream and whiskey sauce or the whiskey ice cream. Other dishes include Hida wagyu steak as well as smoked tuna mayo mushroom pizza. While this isn’t the best place for a full dinner, there is plenty of food to keep you satisfied while you enjoy your whiskey.
Tokyo Whisky Library is sure to scratch any whiskey itch you might have. It offers a huge selection and knowledgeable staff to help you navigate the said selection. Whether you are a seasoned whiskey expert, or just curious about the relatively recent hype the Japanese whiskey scene has been garnering, this is one of the best whiskey experiences Tokyo has to offer.