The Bourbon House

March 15, 2010

Here’s a recommendation from Andrew Hill. It’s a bar called “The Bourbon House” in Nishi-Kawaguchi. Sounds ace!
Cheers, Andrew.

This bar isn’t particularly crazy, but it is particularly awesome, especially if you like whiskey. On the outskirts of Tokyo, there’s a small suburb called Nishi-Kawaguchi. Not far from the station, there’s a bar called the Bourbon House. I visited during my first ever trip to Tokyo back in 07. The owner was friendly and the inside had the feel of an American western saloon, complete with six-shooters and confederate flag. The best part though was the selection, kentucky bourbons so rare you can’t even find them in Kentucky anymore. Scratch that, the best part was, after telling the regulars and friendly bartender, Kaz, that bourbon was my favorite drink, I drank for free, for two nights, of delicious 101 proof or higher bourbon that I can’t even find when I go home to the American south and walk the Bourbon trail. It’s not far from Tokyo, and if you need to stay the night, you can probably stay in the bar till the trains open, or stay at JGH, the cheapest hostel in Japan.

Tel: 048-251-8445
URL: Bourbon House

The New Craze – Chocolate Booze!

January 25, 2010

A trip to my local convenience store today revealed not one but two new chocolate-based alcoholic drinks, so I felt duty-bound to try them both and write about them here.

First is Sapporo’s new chocolate-flavoured beer, “Chocolat Brewery Bitter”. Each mouthful tasted nice for a second, then repulsive. Chocolate and beer, while yummy on their own, inherently don’t go together, and the taste was much like guzzling lager while munching on a Mars bar at the same time, which nobody ever does for a reason- it tastes grim. Now, if someone made curry beer or peanut beer…

After that I tried Asahi’s “Chocolat Cocktail” which isn’t really my kind of drink, but will probably be a success with chocolate-lovers and booze-curious teenagers, because it tastes exactly like chocolate milkshake, without a hint of alcohol to be detected (although the can claims it’s 4% proof.) The sweet-toothed will love Chocolat Cocktail, whereas Chocolat Brewery Bitter will taste horrific to beer-drinkers and chocolate-eaters alike.
But, once again, top marks for trying, Japan!

Land of the Rising Sunburn and Suntory Whiskey

July 22, 2009

Monday was “Ocean Day” in Japan, which means that the rainy season is officially over, and the summer has begun! Also on Monday it started raining for the first time in weeks and hasn’t stopped since.
All across the land there are beach bar and beer garden owners shaking their fists at the sky.
But they needn’t worry, because before long I’ll be showing up and emptying my wallet. (Unless they’ve got cheap all-you-can-drink-deals, in which case they’re truly buggered.)
Yes, summer is a always a great time for al-fresco beer-imbibing, wherever you are (except Saudi Arabia, where it’s punishable by several months in prison.)
All across Japan, department stores and hotels cover their roofs with tables, call them beer gardens, and let people go there and get pissed-up for not much money. A particular favourite of mine is the Kudan Kaikan in Kudanshita, on Tokyo’s Hanzomon line, (and that has nothing to do with the fact that the waitresses are dressed as playboy bunnies, honest.)

About an hour south of Tokyo is the Shonan beach area (where I used to live, an hour on the Odakyu line from Shinjuku) where you can sit back and sup beers and watch the sun set over the ocean, while people let off fireworks. Enoshima beach, while dirty and overcrowded, is a favourite destination of mine (and this has nothing to do with the fact that the beach is teeming with nubile college girls in bikinis, honest.)

If you despise the beach boozing because your beer gets warm in the sweltering summer heat, never fear- I’ve just learned (from Japanprobe) of an amazing new innovation which will solve your problem. An enterprising company has started selling beer mugs carved from ice, and you can buy them online for 580 yen. They last an hour in the sun, apparently.

And if you want to avoid the heat altogether, you can always pop into Ginza’s Ice Bar to cool down. It’s entirely full of ice, and is cold enough to freeze your nipples off.
I might go there, myself- it’ll be nice to stop sweating for the first time since May.

Booze-Themed iPhone Game!

May 31, 2009

A reader has written to me to me, who’s created a mad “drinking simulation game” called “Get Dirk Drunk”, for the iPhone and iPod Touch, in both English and Japanese, no less, (Dirk’s called “Hebereke-kun” in Japanese). It’s quite simple and addictive- you have to shake a cocktail and pour it down a guy’s throat, and watch him get rat-arsed and puke everywhere. Sort of like Pac-Man for alcoholics. Fun for all the family!

Here’s a website about it: in English and Japanese, and an iTunes link. (It costs $0.99 or 115 yen.)

It’s worth checking out for a giggle. Good for breaking the ice at parties, between knocking back the cocktails yourself.

Honest Bar Names in Azabu

March 6, 2009

Strolling around Azabu in Tokyo the other day, I noticed that the bars have refreshingly honest names.

The name of the watering hole below accurately describes their typical customer.

And this place doesn’t shy away from letting you know how you’re going to feel the after drinking there.

“Gonna be hangover”!

John Travolta’s Groovy Chu-Hai Commercials

December 14, 2008

Ever wondered what John Travolta got up to in those wilderness years between between making “Saturday Night Fever” and “Pulp Fiction”?
He was strutting his funky stuff in these commericals for Takara Chu-Hai! (Chu-Hai is a fizzy alcoholic cocktail in a can.)

Travolta might be embarrassed by these ads today, but compared to the films he was making at the time, like “Saturday Night Fever 2: Staying Alive” and “Look Who’s Talking Too,” they were an artistic high point!

Japanese Office Party No-Nos

December 4, 2008

Around this time of year, Japanese companies start holding their end of year office parties, known as “bonenkai”. At these events there are certain protocols and niceties to be observed, but the presence of all-you-can-drink beer and cocktails tends to make people forget this.

What Japan Thinks has kindly translated a list of things not to do at a bonenkai, taken from an online Japanese survey of 1056 people.

I would have liked to have read this last year, before attending to my company’s bonenkai!

Here are the top twenty no-nos:

1 Droning on and on with the welcome speech
2 Fiddling with your mobile all night
3 Skiving off attending
4 Give everyone a piece of your mind
5 Pulling a colleague
6 Arriving late, returning early
7 Being a Soup Nazi with the stew
8 Not having enough money to pay your share
9 Talking shop all night
10 Picking a fight with your boss
11 Crying
12 Treating it as a dating party
13 Passing out drunk
14 Complaining about the food
15 Taking the unfinished booze home
16 Joining a different party
17 Scoffing all the food
18 Ordering extras
19 Paying by credit card to get points
20 Squirting lemon, etc over all the food

Yep, I think I’m guilty of most of them. (Except, naturally, the one about talking shop.)

Although they’re not on the list, it’s safe to assume that photocopying your tits and puking on the boss’s toupee are also bad form!