The Old Imperial Bar, in Tokyo’s Hibiya district, is a place for those with an appreciation for the finer things in life. This main bar of the luxurious Imperial Hotel Tokyo offers far more than the average hotel drinking spot: it's a place to step away from the modern life and spend a few moments surrounded by old-style glamour. The bar's appeal is far-reaching, attracting patrons wanting a taste of its expertly made cocktails and classic atmosphere.
While the bar first opened its doors in 1970, its history reaches back quite a bit further, using elements from the disassembled 1923 Imperial Hotel, designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. A mural made from the Oya stone of the old hotel is one of the highlights, as well as the elegant lighting fixtures that softly illuminate the room.
Before arriving at the bar, guests must first walk through the elegant corridors of the Imperial Hotel Tokyo. At the entrance, you can see several old photos of notable guests of the Imperial Hotel, including Helen Keller, Babe Ruth, and Marilyn Monroe. Inside, you’ll notice touches of classic style in just about every detail: plush leather chairs, individual spotlights above every counter seat, and even an old fashioned rotary telephone that is still in use. Ashtrays are placed at every table and counter seat, as smoking is permitted throughout the entirety of the bar room.
The beverage menu is impressive, featuring a variety of wine, beers, spirits, and sake. The bar boasts its own original label whiskies, a single cask and a blend.
The bar is home to several unique cocktail creations. One of the favorites among visitors to Japan is the “Mount Fuji” (¥1630), a sweet blend of gin, maraschino, lemon and pineapple juices, egg white, whipped cream, and sugar syrup. Created in 1924, this cocktail resembles Japan's most famous mountain, complete with a maraschino cherry, bringing to mind the sunrise over the snow-covered summit of the real Mount Fuji.
Still, classics like the martini (¥1580) remain among the most requested.
Drinks may be the main feature of the Old Imperial, but the variety of gourmet food on the menu should not be overlooked. Food such as paella (¥3570), Vienna veal cutlets (¥3240), and Chaliapin steak (¥6480) are also available.
As is the tradition in many Japanese bars and pubs, a light snack of rice crackers and peanuts, called kaki-pi, is provided along with drinks. In fact, the Old Imperial Bar was the location where the kaki-pi combination was created! Customers may also want to order some delicious assorted fruit as a dessert.
Old Imperial Bar is open from 11:30 a.m. until 12:00 a.m. Whether you’re a guest of the adjoining hotel, or happen to be in Tokyo, it would be worth stopping by to experience one of Tokyo’s most well-known bars.
Old Imperial Bar
*This information is from the time of this article's publication.