In Japanese culture, there's a concept called omotenashi: the art of hospitality. From high-end establishments to the humblest ryokans, this spirit of hospitality — where the host wholeheartedly takes care of their guests’ needs — is clearly evident. Even outside the country, Japanese-style cocktail bars practice omotenashi, where highly-trained mixologists take pride in paying meticulous attention to each customer and the drinks served to patrons.
Enjoy a taste of omotenashi with our guide to the best Japanese-style cocktail bars in Southeast Asia.
Ranked 25 on Asia's 50 Best Bars, this Ginza-inspired bar offers a quiet, discreet space to unwind over expertly prepared concoctions. As its name suggests, D.Bespoke is where you can enjoy customised cocktails mixed by head mixologist Daiki Kanetaka, who trained under the famed Hidetsugu Ueno. Tasting flights and neat spirits are also available. With overstuffed leather armchairs and soft jazz piped in through speakers, you can easily while away an entire evening in this cosy 28-seat space.
Bar Shake (Kuala Lumpur)
Helmed by industry veteran Osamu "Sam" Kinugawa, the man behind the chic Bar NEMS in Tokyo, this cosy Japanese-style cocktail bar is well known for their fruit and sake-based concoctions. Kinugawa is particularly adept at putting a unique spin on time-honoured cocktails: using a Koji shochu as a substitute for gin in the classic G&T which gives the drink a refreshing citrusy flavour; smoking a Smoky Martini with cherry wood for 30 seconds for added aroma and more. Linked to the popular Sushi Ryu next door, this minimalist chic space is the perfect venue for after-dinner drinks.